The Eight and American Modernisms

March 6 - May 24, 2009



 

Object labels for the exhibition

 

LILAC LABELS
 
 
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
The Art Student (Miss Josephine Nivison), 1906
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, M1965.34
 
 
 
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Figure in Motion, 1913
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.69
 
Robert Henri's sensational contribution to the 1913 Armory show, Figure in Motion, is a frank portrayal of the nude female body. The painting of an artfully arranged dancer is extremely complex. While it is a painterly tour de force, it also embodies the theoretical notion of élan vital, adapted from the French philosopher Henri Bergson, and the idea of movement, the conceptual spatial fulfillment of the fourth dimension.
 
 
Arthur B. Davies
Remembrance, c. 1903
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, John Butler Talcott Fund, 1909.01
 
Fountain Play, c. 1900
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of William Macbeth Incorporated, 1949.2
 
 
 
Arthur B. Davies
Hylas and the Nymphs, c. 1910
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1946.11
 
 
 
Arthur B. Davies
Reclining Female Nude, c. 1910
Charcoal and chalk on brown paper
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, 1974.2
 
Male Model with Bow, early 20th century
Charcoal and chalk on green paper
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, M1974.1
 
 
Arthur B. Davies
Struggle, 1917
Drypoint
New Britain Museum of American Art, gift of Mrs. Sanford Low, 1973.54
 
The Temple, 1918-19
Etching on blue paper
New Britain Museum of American Art, gift of the Alix W. Stanley Estate, 1954.57
 
Andante, 1916
Drypoint
Milwaukee Art Museum, Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection, 2004.173
 
Moonlight on the Grassy Bank, 1920
Aquatint and drypoint, printed in color on green paper
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert and Mrs. Barbara Abert Tooman, M1984.12
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Swamp Willows, c. 1928
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles and Elizabeth Buchanan Collection, 1989.34
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Winter Scene, c. 1909
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert and Mrs. Barbara Abert Tooman, M1981.188
 
Winter Scene is indicative of Ernest Lawson mastery of painting snow-covered landscapes with an infusion of romantic undertones. The country road is rutted from the repeated pressure of wagon wheels, thereby suggesting a temporal narrative for the twilight scene. The pale orange sun barely visible in the distance is poetry as the orange-brown pigments more prosaically indicates the fallen foliage on the ground and the slender trees. That works such as Winter Scene are rooted in ordinary landscapes only enhances the precious quality of their jewel-like surfaces.
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Boat Club in Winter, c. 1915
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, Samuel O. Buckner Collection, M1928.6
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Brooklyn Bridge, 1917-20
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.43
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Spring Tapestry, c. 1930
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles F. Smith Fund, 1948.09
 
 
 
George Luks
Pals, c. 1907
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1943.11
 
 
 
John Sloan
Girl with Fur Hat, 1909
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1950.21
 
 
 
George Luks
Bleeker and Carmine Streets, New York, c. 1905
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert and Mrs. Barbara Abert Tooman, M1976.14
 
By 1905 the sale and exhibition of his paintings permitted George Luks to leave the newspaper business, in which he had been an artist since the 1890s, and concentrate on painting. Bleeker and Carmine Streets, New York shows the style he developed in the 1910s for rendering street scenes, using flat strokes of unmixed color in geometric, mosaic-like patterns. Close looking reveals that the artist has taken a street scene and reduced it to a strict formal exercise emphasizing color, from and innovative composition.
 
 
 
John Sloan
Main Street, Gloucester, c. 1914-18
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1943.16
 
John Sloan
Isadora Duncan, 1911
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, 1969.27
 
In Isadora Duncan, a portrait of the modern dancer in a performance, John Sloan captures his admiration for this icon of feminism and aesthetic independence. Like many progressive artists, Sloan was inspired by her revolutionary ideal of regenerating society through natural movement. Sloan's attendance of Duncan's innovative performances and the latest silent movies mark his engagement with modernity.
 
 
 
John Sloan
Long Prone Nude, 1931
Etching and engraving
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Juel Stryker in honor of her parents, Clinton E. and Sarah H. Stryker, M1989.49
 
Nude studio models painted by Robert Henri and John Sloan were both pictures of real women and formal artistic statements. Sloan's more analytical approach was intended to eliminate the sensual in depicting the female nude. He intellectualized the modeling of form to achieve a volumetric expression of the figure, entangling the model in a geometric scheme of cross-hatching. Sloan was more successful in using his cross-hatching technique in his etchings of nudes, as in the elegant Long Prone Nude, which conveys both the vitality of life and the artifice of art.
 
Rose and Gray Nude, 1931
Crayon on paper
Milwaukee Art Museum, Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection, M2004.106
 
 
 
 
GREEN LABELS
 
 
 
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Portrait of Marjorie Henri, 1918
Oil and pastel on paper
Milwaukee Art Museum, Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection, 2004.78
 
 
 
John Sloan (1871-1951)
Anshutz on Anatomy, 1912
Etching
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Juel Stryker in honor of her parents, Clinton E. and Sarah H. Stryker, M1989.36
 
As art instructors, Henri and Sloan taught life study classes for advanced students, and they were dedicated to the representation of the human figure as the vehicle for portraying their expressive ideas. Anshutz on Anatomy, Sloan's etching of their teacher Thomas Anshutz instructing a mixed class of men and women students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, is a rumination on the rigors of artistic training.
 
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Blond Bridget Lavelle, 1928
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, Centennial Gift of Mrs. Donald B. Abert, 1987.28
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Dancer of Delhi (Betalo Rubino), 1916
Oil on canvas
Collection of Melinda and Paul Sullivan
 
The Eight's experimentation with theory-in both color and compositional strategies-is often overlooked. Robert Henri's many paintings of nudes and clothed models were vehicles for further color exploration, seen in Betalo Nude and Dancer of Delhi (Betalo Rubino). Surprisingly, nudes painted by the progressive artists of the 1920s and 1930s are rarely displayed in galleries of historic American art. This conundrum arises from the perception that nudes were interpreted as "realistic" and, thus, portray "naked" women. Understood as neither the "ideal" nude, as a statement of beauty, nor an exercise in formalism, these expressive paintings were unappreciated as theoretical essays.
 
 
 
George Luks
Pam, 1929
Oil on panel
New Britain Museum of American Art, gift of Olga H. Knoepke, 1992.38
 
 
 
George Luks
City on River, c. 1921-27
Watercolor on paper
New Britain Museum of American Art, gift of Olga H. Knoepke, 1992.25
 
Sunset, c. 1928-32
Watercolor on paper
New Britain Museum of American Art, gift of Olga H. Knoepke, 1992.26
 
George Luks bought an old farmhouse in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts in 1925. Sunset shows a farmhouse nestled under a protective expanse of trees, but its technique suggests a post-impressionist color sensibility. The sky is striped with red and blue in an evocation of the afterglow of the setting sun while broad washes of color and pointillist dabs of pigment evoke the scene in a full palette of saturated color.
 
 
 
George Luks
Cabby at the Plaza, c. 1920-30
Oil on board
New Britain Museum of American Art, John Butler Talcott Fund, 1941.02
 
Old Mary, c. 1919
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Charles D. James, M1968.47
 
Suraleuska, n.d. (possibly c. 1925-27)
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, gift of Olga H. Knoepke, 1996.13
 
 
 
George Luks
Knitting for the Soldiers: High Bridge Park, c. 1918
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.87
 
By 1912, George Luks moved from his small city apartment to a large home with an attached studio in northern Manhattan, just a few minutes walk from Highbridge Park on the Harlem River. The neighborhood was one of upper-middle-class residents. Knitting for the Soldiers shows nursemaids busy not only tending their small charges in the bright, purple-shadowed sunlight of winter. The brilliant color that had always enlivened Luks's dark palette came to the fore and his brushwork became dappled and more playful.
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
Brittany Coast, c. 1892-95
Watercolor on paper
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1947.01
 
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
Beechmont, 1900-05
Watercolor on paper
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1944.01
 
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
Evening on a Pleasure Boat, 1895-97
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.110
 
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
At the Seashore, 1895
Monotype on cream Japanese paper
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.69
 
The Breezy Common, c. 1895-97
Monotype with graphic additions on cream Japanese paper
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.73
 
Maurice B. Prendergast prized equally his watercolors and his monotypes or "colored prints" as he referred to them, and he exhibited them together regularly from 1895 to 1902. The colored monotypes are altogether original artistic achievements, exemplifying a Whisterlian mode in At the Seashore and a Japanese accent in The Breezy Common.
 
 
 
John Sloan
Hotel Dance, Santa Fe, 1919
Oil on canvas
Collection of Rhoda and David T. Chase
 
 
John Sloan (1871-1951)
Anshutz on Anatomy, 1912
Etching
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Juel Stryker in honor of her parents, Clinton E. and Sarah H. Stryker, M1989.36
 
As art instructors, Henri and Sloan taught life study classes for advanced students, and they were dedicated to the representation of the human figure as the vehicle for portraying their expressive ideas. Anshutz on Anatomy, Sloan's etching of their teacher Thomas Anshutz instructing a mixed class of men and women students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, is a rumination on the rigors of artistic training.
 
 
 
Everett Shinn
Cabaret Singer in Red, 1951
Gouache on paper
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mrs. Edward R. Wehr, M1957.17
 
Paris Street No. 2, 1902
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1943.15
 
 
John Sloan
Autumn Dunes, 1914
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, M1969.28
 
John Sloan increased his experimentation with color, form, and composition, especially during the summers of 1914-1918, which he spent in the seaport of Gloucester, Massachusetts. With its bright hues and impasto brushwork, Autumn Dunes like many of his other Gloucester canvases, explores the techniques of Van Gogh and Cézanne. Sloan also explored American theorist Hardesty G. Maratta's musings on the relationship of color harmony to musical scales.
 
 
 
ACCOLADE LABELS
 
 
 
Arthur B. Davies
Rhythms, c. 1910
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert in Memory of Harry J. Grant, 1966.57
 
 
 
William Glackens
Breezy Day, Tugboats, New York Harbor, c. 1910
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert and Mrs. Barbara Abert Tooman, M1974.230
 
 
 
William Glackens
Washington Square, 1910
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles F. Smith Fund, 1944.03
 
 
 
William Glackens
A Headache in Every Glass, 1903-04
Charcoal, watercolor, and gouache on paper
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection 1992.170
 
By the turn of the century, William Glackens had established himself as an illustrator of the first rank, contributing images to magazines. The sketchiness of his style animates the scene in A Headache in Every Glass, one of seven images Glackens made for "Our Melancholy.
 
Bal Bullier, c. 1895
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.59
 
Interior, 1899
Pastel on green wove paper
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1949.03
 
 
 
William Glackens
Portrait of a Young Girl, c. 1915
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, A.W. Stanley Fund, 1958.06
 
 
 
William Glackens
Julia's Sister, c. 1915
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.58
 
William Glackens dematerializes the presence of the young woman in Julia's Sister by surrounding her with colorful palette of aquatic greens and blazing oranges that is joyful but at odds with her passive expression. The bouquet of flowers over the girl's right shoulder, the ring of flowers around the brim of her hat, and the indistinct patterning of the wall around her, all position the sitter as the centerpiece of a complex floral arrangement. In the thin paint application, a few swirls of pigment, particularly in the flowers depicted, register the fluid strokes of his brush, imbuing the work with a measure of texture and tactility.
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Street Corner, 1899
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, 1974.7
 
 
William Glackens
Beach, St. Jean de Luz, 1929
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1988.8
 
Beach, St. Jean de Luz won the Jennie Sesnan Medal for the finest landscape in the 1936 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art's annual exhibition. William Glackens's images of the beach and of figures posed in lush interiors reflect both the charmed life of the traveler "on a perpetual holiday." Beach scenes formed the largest portion of Glackens's outdoor work; they were the most frequently exhibited and the most popular of his paintings.
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, 1903
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert in Memory of Mr. Harry J. Grant, M1965.32
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Dutch Joe (Jopie Van Slouten), 1910
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection, 1919.9
 
The Rum, 1910
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert in Memory of Mr. Harry J. Grant, M1965.31
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Chinese Lady, 1914
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, M1965.61
 
Chinese Lady shows a lighter palette and sharper contrast that appear in Robert Henri's post-Armory show paintings. Although painted during a sojourn to southern California, where the dazzling sunshine influenced many artists toward high-keyed color, Henri was here likely exploring the color theories of Waldo Denman Ross, a Harvard lecturer who focused on harmonic sequences of color, value, and tone. Ross also promoted the use of a set palette, a practice that Henri adopted and taught.
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Betalo Nude, 1916
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert, 1972.24
 
 
 
Robert Henri
Spanish Girl of Segovia, 1912
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, A. W. Stanley Fund, 1941.07
 
The impact of color theory on Robert Henri's own work is demonstrated in the use of complementary color schemes in his Spanish Girl of Segovia, with its bright green fan and red patterned shawl. Hardesty G. Maratta, whom Henri first met in 1909, manufactured and marketed a new patented system of synthetic pigments in tubes based on chromatic scales. He based his system on mixing the three primary colors -- red, yellow, and blue -- in equal amounts to achieve a variety of hues arranged in a pyramid. Correspondence between color and music was a popular notion, one that paralleled modernist artists' justification of abstraction.
 
 
 
Robert Henri
An Imaginative Boy, 1915
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1950.04
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Springtime, Harlem River, 1900-10
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.45
 
rnest Lawson explored the city's outskirts, especially the northern tip of Manhattan, the semi-rural region of Inwood, including Fort Tryon Park, and Washington Heights along the Hudson and Harlem rivers. Unlike his friend and colleague William Glackens, Lawson in general shied away from painting the prominent public places, such as Central Park, where New Yorkers promenaded.
Ernest Lawson.
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Colonial Church, c. 1908-10
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles and Elizabeth Buchanan Collection, 1989.33
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Spring Thaw, c. 1910
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.85
 
Ernest Lawson was a product of the art colony movement though his association with John Twachtman and J. Alden Weir at their Cos Cob, Connecticut, art school. He painted along rivers in Connecticut and around New York. From Twachtman and Weir, Lawson learned to infuse his landscapes with lyricism and mood. Over time, however, Lawson's application of paint became rougher and less refined. He frequently let areas of blank canvas show through and then juxtaposed such areas with thick layers of paint applied with palette knife or trowel.
 
 
 
Ernest Lawson
Spring Tapestry, c. 1930
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles F. Smith Fund, 1948.09
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
Still Life with Apples and Vase, c. 1910-13
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.122
 
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
Salem, 1913-15
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1944.15
 
Picnic by the Sea, 1913-15
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of the Donald B. Abert Family in His Memory, by exchange, M1986.49
 
The inclusion of female nudes in Maurice B. Prendergast's interpretations of his quintessential subject, figures promenading along a beach, indicated a new direction in his art. Noticeable in Picnic by the Sea is a partially drawn ghost-like figure that is frequently found in the artist's late canvases. As long as an oil painting remained in Prendergast's studio, it was susceptible to the artist's additional manipulations of the surface until he thought the picture finished.
 
The Grove, c. 1918-23
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.63
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
Salem Willows, 1904
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.120
 
Salem Willows and the watercolor Beechmont illuminated Maurice B. Prendergast's experimentation: both depict a favorite theme of leisure at the seashore and, notwithstanding their appearance of spontaneity, both emphatically demonstrate that the artist's art-making was anything but impulsive. Paradoxically, he achieved in watercolor a particular quality of iridescent light by applying the medium precisely and judiciously, leaving portions of the white paper untouched in order to brighten the final picture.
 
In oil painting, in contrast, he applied colors just as carefully but in layers to attain the desired shimmering effect. Beechmont's delightfully fresh color seems to be the primary achievement of the watercolor, while its figures' awkward scale and pert facial features are somewhat discordant despite their delicately nuanced suggestion of movement. Salem Willows reveals a master colorist in pigments and offers insights into the artist's style prior to his seminal sojourn in France in 1907.
 
 
 
Maurice B. Prendergast
St. Malo, after 1907
Watercolor and graphite on paper
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.121
 
 
 
Everett Shinn
Spoiling for a Fight, New York Docks, 1899
Watercolor and pastel on board
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert and Mrs. Barbara Abert Tooman, M1977.25
 
Taking his journalistically trained eye, Everett Shinn knew a good story when he saw it. Spoiling for a Fight, New York Docks would appear to be a typical example of so-called Ashcan realism. But is this scene realistic or theatrically dramatic? The rough-and-tumble subject suggests newspaper illustration, but the carefully arranged composition, the strategically placed colored garments, and, most importantly, the beautiful pastel surface required the inspiration and diligence of a painter not a sketch artist.
 
 
 
Everett Shinn
Theater Scene, 1903
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.136
 
Trapeze Artists (Proctor's Theater), 1940
Pastel on paper
Collection of Rhoda and David T. Chase
 
 
 
Everett Shinn
Nightclub Scene, 1934 (possibly reworked later)
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Abert in Memory of Harry J. Grant, M1966.112
 
The painting in its present form was on Everett Shinn's easel at the time of his death. Nightclub Scene repeats aspects of the earlier Theater Scene but also introduces modern themes of waiting, gazing, boredom, mass-entertainment, and visual confusion. Interpretations of Nightclub Scene's formal dynamics are complicated by the fact that the present painting may have been cut down from a larger canvas perhaps twice the size.
 
French Vaudeville, 1937
Oil on canvas
New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1946.22
 
 
 
 
John Sloan
Big Hat (also known as Blonde Girl), 1909
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Purchase, L1964.8
 
Dunes at Annisquam, 1914
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Juel Stryker in honor of her parents, Clinton E. and Sarah H. Stryker, 1989.29

 

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