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The American Spirit: Paintings by Mort Künstler
August 27, 2006 - November 5, 2006
In The American Spirit: Paintings by Mort Künstler, at Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) from August 27 through November 5, 2006, the theme of American history is arranged chronologically, spanning the early days of the nation from the Revolution to the Space Age. This reflects the major project that has engaged artist Mort Künstler throughout his career. Regarded widely as the leading history painter of today, Künstler, who works in a heightened realist vein, is renowned for his paintings' fidelity to their subjects and their capacity to vividly convey the narrative that has animated our nation's growth. The American Spirit is an original exhibition organized for NCMA by the museum's chief curator, Franklin Hill Perrell.
Künstler's work is esteemed for its drama and artistry and for the extraordinary level of authenticity that results from the artist's intense research. He is regarded as the world's foremost Civil War artist: Dr. James I Robertson, Jr., the dean of Civil War historians and author of Stonewall Jackson, said "To study his paintings is to simply see history alive....none captures the human element, the aura of leadership, the sense of being there and sharing in the drama quite like Mort Künstler." Attesting to the artist's popularity with the public, NCMA's 1998 exhibition, The Civil War: The Paintings of Mort Künstler, broke all of the museum's previous attendance records and still stands as one of the museum's top-drawing shows ever.
The artist is widely acknowledged for his links to the Golden Age of Illustration, to artists such as Rockwell and Leyendecker, but as this exhibition will demonstrate, Künstler's work is also positioned within the larger context of American art. His techniques and style stands upon the foundation of a long-honored American tradition of realism, the premise of descriptive literalism.
Künstler studied art at Brooklyn College, UCLA and the Pratt Institute. He became a highly successful illustrator, receiving coveted assignments from books and magazine covers such as Newsweek, Saturday Evening Post, Mad Magazine and Boy's Life. It was his work for National Geographic, where he was creating highly accurate representations of historical subjects that pointed the way to his convincing depictions of scenes in American history. An assignment from CBS-TV to do the paintings for the miniseries, The Blue and The Gray, began Künstler's close association with the Civil War. The High Water Mark, his painting for that series, is considered the most accurate and exciting rendering ever of the battle at Gettysburg. It was unveiled at Gettysburg National Military Park Museum in 1988 in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the battle.
Mort Künstler will participate in several events at NCMA during the course of this exhibition: On August 27 and September 10 he will be present for Meet the Artist events during which he will sign calendars, prints, posters, books and the museum catalogue. On September 6, Künstler will present a lecture, The American Spirit: My Career as a Painter of American History, and on October 15 he will unveil a new Revolutionary War print, The World Turned Upside Down, which portrays the British surrender at Yorktown. Two exciting military reenactments will be held on the museum grounds: the Revolutionary War on September 16 and the Civil War on November 5.
On October 7, NCMA's chief curator, Franklin Hill Perrell, presents a lecture titled Rebellious Realists, from Manet to Hopper. The museum is also offering several Tea & Tour events featuring an introduction by Museum Director Constance Schwartz, followed by an exclusive docent-led exhibition tour and a menu of tea, sandwiches, scones and sweets in the Museum Café. For further information on these and other events, or to register, log onto nassaumuseum.com or call (516) 484-9338, ext. 12.
(above: Mort Künstler: The New World - ©2006 Oil on canvas)
(above: Mort Künstler: The World Turned Upside Down - ©2006, Oil on canvas)
(above: Mort Künstler: Oklahoma Land Rush - ©1988, Oil on canvas)
(above: Mort Künstler: Brief Encounter - ©2005, Oil on canvas)
(above: Mort Künstler: Custer's Last Stand - ©1986, Oil on canvas)
(above: Mort Künstler: Launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia, April 12, 1981, 7:00:10 EST, ©1981 Oil on canvas)
Wall panels for the exhibition:
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