Published: December 6, 2011
“American Paintings from the 1920s and 1930s in the Arkell Collections” provides a fascinating glimpse at two decades of collecting by an American industrialist Bartlett Arkell, the founder and first president of the Beech-Nut Packing Company. On view at the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie through March 11, “American Paintings” reveals the depth and variety of art within Arkell’s collecting parameters. There will be special gallery tours offered on December 10, at 1, 2 and 3 pm.
“American Paintings” looks at some of the artists working in the 1920s and 1930s who were promoted by Macbeth Gallery †the first New York City gallery to sell only American art. Arkell built an art gallery attached to the Canajoharie Library in 1927, and worked with Macbeth Gallery to acquire a remarkable collection of American paintings.
This was a time when many American painters continued to work in styles influenced by the French Impressionists, while others were encouraged by Robert Henri and The Eight (also known as the Ashcan School) to explore greater realism. During the 1930s, American artists became more interested in organic or geometric abstraction, but Arkell favored Realist and Impressionist works that presented nostalgic views of America unchanged by industry †not avant-garde art that held little appeal to most viewers.
Arkell acquired paintings by Impressionists and Ashcan School artists who had once shocked people with their controversial subject matter and method of painting, but who, by the 1920s, were hailed as America’s greatest artists. Arkell also collected Regionalist paintings that had won acclaim for their apparent embodiment of the values of America’s working people.
The exhibition includes portraits by two members of The Eight, George Bellows and George Luks. Regionalist artists are featured with works by Thomas Hart Benton, Paul Sample and Luigi Lucioni. The exhibition also includes watercolors and oil paintings by some of the best-known American artists from the 1920s and 1930s, including Edward Hopper, Charles Demuth and N.C. Wyeth.
The Arkell Museum at Canajoharie is at 2 Erie Boulevard. For information, 518-673-2314 or www.arkellmuseum.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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