Museum of Art

Knoxville, TN

(423) 525-6101

Masterworks Come to KMA


In the early 1900s American art lagged behind Europe's progressive styles. By 1945, New York had overtaken Paris at the center of the art world. This coming of age for American art can be seen in Masterworks of American Art from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, an impressive forty-three paintings and sculptures which comes to KMA February 27 - August 23, 1998. The Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute is based in Utica, New York and houses an extensive collection of American art established by renowned collector Edward W. Root.

Edward Hopper, "The Camels Hump," Collection of The Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute

Masterworks contains paintings and sculptures by many of the figures who were instrumental in the rise of American Art. Canvases by Ashcan School painters Robert Henri, George Luks, William Glackens and John Sloan capture everyday urban imagery with a brutal honesty that shocked American audiences of the early 1900s accustomed to academic pictures containing idealized subject matter. Other early modern paintings include scenes by Precisionist artists Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler and Ralston Crawford in which modern industrial settings are transformed into celebrations of geometric purity.

Robert Henri, "Dutch Soldier," oil on canvas, 1907

At the heart of the exhibition are key works of Abstract Expressionism, which is generally regarded as the most significant development in 20th century American art. Representing this highly gestural, individualized movement are paintings by Jackson Pollock, renowned for his spontaneous dripped compositions; and by Arshile Gorky, whose painted forms suggest vast atmospheres populated by anatomical structures. This section also includes canvases by Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Norman Lewis and Helen Frankenthaler.

Jackson Pollock, "No. 34," 1949

A group of sculptures provide an interesting counterpoint to the selection of paintings in the exhibition. A bronze architectural form by John Storrs recalls the geometric purity of precesionist paintings. An early welded steel sculpture by David Smith demonstrates his ability to create sophisticated structures resembling three-dimensional calligraphy. Smith is widely considered to be the most influential American sculptor of this century.

The Knoxville Museum of Art strives to be the premier visual arts resource for the diverse communities of East Tennessee. KMA is located at 1050 World's Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37916. For more information on this or any other exhibition call (423) 525-6101.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1998 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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