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Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism and its Response in Pennsylvania Painting, 1900-1950
August 4 - November 5, 2006
The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto has announced the opening of its latest exhibition, Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism and its Response in Pennsylvania Painting, 1900-1950. The exhibition is the result of a partnership between three Pennsylvania museums and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The partnership was organized in order to curate a major exhibition designed to highlight the commonwealth's most ground-breaking and important artists, and to celebrate the impact these artists and their work had on the development of the visual arts in the nation.
The partnership of SAMA, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and the Erie Art Museum began in 1998 and led to the exhibition, Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism in Pennsylvania Painting, 1950-2000. That exhibition, which toured the commonwealth in 2001, showcased the works of major Pennsylvania artists of the latter half of the 20th century. This second installment of Artists of the Commonwealth looks back to the opening decades of the last century, highlighting the artists who would be responsible for inspiring, teaching and paving the way for later masters such as Alice Neel, Philip Pearlstein, Andy Warhol, and Andrew Wyeth. The exhibition, which features 38 works, will be on view August 4 through November 5, 2006.
Pennsylvania has held a prominent place in the advancement of American painting since the dynasty of the Peale family in the early decades of the 18th century. Exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Carnegie Academy of the Fine Arts and Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) played an important role in the American art scene in the opening decades of the 20th century. This period in American art was an extremely energetic, creative and quickly changing one with artists addressing a barrage of new styles defined by abstraction and modernism.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the instruction and works of Pennsylvania artists such as George Hetzel, Thomas Anshutz and Thomas Eakins set the stage for Robert Henri, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Mary Cassatt, each of whom became synonymous with a different movement in American realism, one that focused on the city and modern life. These artists were closely followed by the likes of Aaron Harry Gorson, Joseph Hirsch, Everett Shinn and John Sloan, who continued this interest in urban life. N.C. Wyeth, Violet Oakley and Maxfield Parrish were artists whose works focused on images from mythology, history and literature.
The introduction to American artists of modernist European painters such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne, through exhibitions in New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, brought Cubism, Abstraction, and Expressionism to the scene. These "isms" would stimulate new directions in American art, as explored through the works of William Baziotes, Morton Livingston Schamberg and Charles Sheeler.
"This exhibition brings together the work of prominent American masters who, although stylistically varied, are firmly based upon the establishment of Realism," said SAMA Fine Arts Curator, Dr. Graziella Marchicelli. "The exhibition is truly a rare opportunity to see some of America's iconic names in the history of art. The show was beautifully organized by Barbara Jones, Curator of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and is a treat for all to experience."
The Museum will host a reception to celebrate the exhibition on Saturday, October 7. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served. The exhibition is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, through the partnership of three museums in the commonwealth: the Erie Art Museum, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
Artists included in the exhibition:
(above: Robert Henri (1865-1929), Gitana Vieja (Madre Gitana), 1912, Oil on canvas, 41 x 33 inches. Collection of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art)
(above: Malcolm Parcell (1896-1987), Portrait of Helen
Gallagher, ca. 1928, Oil on canvas, 44 1/4 x 40 inches. Collection of
the Wetsmoreland Museum of American Art. Gift of the Estate of Malcolm Parcell)
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