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American Seascapes: Artists at the Shore
June 5 - August 2004
American Seascapes: Artists at The Shore features 13 American works of art, made between 1912 and 1958, from the Museum's permanent collection. This summer exhibition will be on view in the Docter Gallery from June 5, through August 2004. (right: Selden Connor Gile, American, 1877-1947, Two Fishermen and Boat, 1917, oil on panel, 15 x 18 inches (38.1 x 45.7 cm). Purchase, the R.H. Norton Trust, 91.24)
Conceived as a refreshing visual respite for visitors to Florida in summer, all the paintings and works on paper in American Seascapes: Artists at The Shore depict coastline scenes. Artists represented include John Marin, Jane Peterson, Selden Connor Gile and Childe Hassam. John Marin (American, 1870-1953), a well-known watercolorist, was a master at capturing the fluidity of motion and of simplifying nature into semiabstract compositions. Cape Split, Maine, 1941 depicts the rugged Maine coastline, turbulent Atlantic Ocean, and a tottering sailboat at full sail.
Marin delighted in capturing nature at its points of greatest activity. Originally from New Jersey, he began painting watercolors when he was 15 years old. Eschewing his family's wish for him to become an architect, he took off for Europe to study etching. There he met Alfred Stieglitz, who arranged his first one-man exhibition at "291" gallery in New York. By 1914 Marin began to paint from nature, the inspiration of his youth. It was this year that he discovered Maine, to which he made annual sojourns for the rest of his life. (left: John Marin, American, 1870-1953, Cape Split, Maine, 1941, watercolor on paper, 15 3/8 x 20 1/8 inches (39.1 x 51.1 cm). Bequest of R.H. Norton, 53.120, (c) 2004 Estate of John Marin/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
Another artist in the exhibition, Jane Peterson, (American, 1876-1965) combines Fauvist and Impressionist styles with academic drawing. Her two paintings, Florida Landscape and By the Water, depict the Intracoastal Waterway near Palm Beach. Born in Elgin, Illinois, Peterson moved to New York City in 1895 to study at the Pratt Institute. Peterson also traveled to Europe, studying painting with Frank Brangwyn in London, Jacques Emile Blanche and Andre Hite in Paris, and Joaquin Sorolla in Madrid. At one point, she joined Louis Comfort Tiffany on a continental painting expedition in his private railway car. By 1912 she was teaching painting at the Art Students League in New York City and at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore.
Also included in the exhibition is a painting by Selden Connor Gile (American, 1877-1947). Gile was born in Maine, but became famous as a member of "The Society of Six", a group of California Bay Area painters devoted to a modernist style of representation most reminiscent of the French Impressionists and Fauvists. Two Fishermen and Boat, 1917 a colorful, sun-drenched scene, reveals his embrace of these modern styles.
The exhibition also includes a rarely seen etching by Childe Hassam, (American, 1859-1935), one of America's foremost Impressionists. Hassam was a founding member of "The Ten", a group of artists who seceded from the Society of American Artists in order to show their work in small, non-juried exhibitions. After extensive travel in Europe and living and studying in Paris for three years, he settled in New York. Many of his paintings in the 1890s and 1900s were scenes of New York in which he captured the life of the city with his unique sense of color and mood. He spent most of the rest of his life painting east coast landscapes. In 1919 Hassam bought a house, "Willow Bend," on Egypt Lane in East Hampton, New York as a permanent summer retreat. The Birth of Venus, Montauk, 1922, recalls Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, ca. 1485-1486. In this work, which Hassam described as "treating the modern with the classical" the strength of Hassam's draftsmanship is clearly visible. (right: Jane Peterson, American, 1876-1965, Florida Landscape, gouache on paper, 23 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches (59.7 x 44.5 cm), Gift of Dr. and Mrs. George Hyman, 74.60)
American Seascapes: Artists at the Shore was co-curated by Jonathan Stuhlman, curator of American art and Lisa Heard, curatorial assistant. The Norton Museum of Art's American Collection currently consists of approximately 1,000 works of art. Displayed in five galleries in the Museum's Main Building, the American art collection represents many major movements of this genre, including works by Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe and Jackson Pollock, and portraits by Robert Henri, George Luks and John Sloan, among others.
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