American Works from the Paine Art Center
by Paul A. Manoguerra
The collection at the Paine also includes the revival of traditional figurative painting in both genre and landscape with a focus on the Midwest as subject matter. Beginning with a large gift in 1976, the Museum began collecting American landscape prints from the era of the Great Depression. The Regionalism of Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood lifted small-town, rural America into the realm of Romanticism.
Wood began making lithographs in 1937 and issued about twenty during his lifetime. Tree Planting Group is typical of the homespun, realistic themes which were most successful for Wood as prints for popular tastes. It was the artist's first lithograph, executed after a charcoal drawing. The renewal and new life metaphor abounds in the Depression-era print through the numerous children and the new tree planted in a desolate site.
Although the Paine Art Center's collection of American landscapes encompasses an entire century and several art historical eras, one current flows through all of the works in the exhibition: the ongoing relationship between nature and the individual artist. All of the artists in Tones, Impressions and the Landscape directly studied nature. All had an intimate and personal reaction to nature that manifested itself in their work. And all had a profound effect on Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine and the fifty-year history of Paine Art Center & Arboretum.
1 Draft of a letter dated October 30, 1926 from Nathan Paine to artist Pieter Van Veen.
2 Quoted in correspondence between Lloyd Goodrich, Director, Whitney Museum of American Art and Richard Gregg, Director, Paine Art Center & Arboretum, 1963.
3 Joni Louise Kinsey, Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
4 William H. Gerdts, et. al. Tonalism, An American Experience, New York: Grand Central Art Galleries Art Education Association, 1982.
5 Letter dated July 7, 1926 from C.N. Anderson, Anderson Art Galleries, Chicago to Nathan Paine.
About the Author
Paul A. Manoguerra is Curator of American Art at the Georgia Museum of Art
Resource Library editor's note:
The above article was reprinted, without accompanying illustrations, in Resource Library on March 10, 2006 with the permission of Paul A. Manoguerra and the Paine Art Center and Gardens. This text was written in conjunction with an exhibition titled Tones, Impressions and Landscape: American Works from the Paine Art Center & Arboretum held October 18, 1998 through January 3, 1999 at the Paine Art Center & Arboretum.
If you have questions or comments regarding the article please contact Dr. Manoguerra at the Georgia Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:
Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Laura Fiser, Curator at the Paine Art Center and Gardens for her help concerning co-permissions for reprinting the above text.
This article was also previously published in American Art Review, Volume X, Number 5, September-October, 1998.
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