Published: October 16, 2001
Images and Icons at the Katonah Museum of Art
KATONAH, N.Y. – “: American Images and Icons 1800-2000,” a new exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art, demonstrates the varied ways in which the image of the horse has infused our culture. More than 150 fascinating objects from the fine and decorative arts, graphic design, photography, numismatics, sculpture, and popular culture are on view in this show, which was originated by the museum.
The installation is designed to demonstrate how similar images have diverse meanings depending on context.
“The objects in ” document the complex role of the horse in articulating American stories, whether personal, regional, or national,” explained Ezra Shales, co-curator with Dr Susan H. Edwards. “Each work of art has its own peculiar and distinct voice, and articulates a different way of ordering the world.”
A beloved image in art from prehistoric times to the present, the horse has been the subject of many museum exhibitions.
“But this is the first to use equine imagery to illustrate that the transition in America from pre- to a post-industrial nation was a complex tale, and the first to take into account the diversity of cultures and traditions that have coexisted in this country and influenced American visual culture,” explained Edwards, who is the executive director of the Katonah Museum of Art.
Shales adds, “It exists simultaneously in all time periods of our culture and in all mediums, in high art as well as popular art.”
Historically, artists were commissioned to paint portraits of famous racehorses and trotters, as well as portraits of wealthy patrons who posed with their prized companions. Thousands of paintings also prominently feature horses depicted in battle, mythological scenes and landscapes. “” presents works by Alfred Jacob Miller, Frederic Remington and Currier & Ives.
Among the distinguished Twentieth Century artists in the show are Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Mark Frank, Elie Nadelman; Eadweard Muybridge, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Bill Traylor, Andy Warhol and Susan Rothenberg.
Installations and montages by contemporary artists are also included. The Museum’s Sculpture Garden showcases a site-specific work by Michael Ballou, titled “Round Up,” that brings together numerous saw horses lent by museum supporters.
Additionally, there are pieces by folk artists and Native American craftsmen, plus books, currency, coins, badges, broadsides, cigar boxes, sheet music, trading cards, jewelry, magazines, figurines and other ephemera that ingeniously illustrate the theme.
Many of these objects were contributed by national and local historical societies and museums – from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Katonah Village Library; the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y., the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Somers (N.Y.) Historical Society.
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated 48-page catalogue with thoughtful essays by Edwards, Shales, and Deborah Bright, professor of art history and photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. The preface was written by Verlyn Klinkenborg, an editorial writer for The New York Times.
The Katonah Museum of Art is on Route 22, just south of Route 35. The museum is open 1 to 5 pm Tuesdays through Friday and Sunday; 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday. In conjunction with “,” the museum has planned several programs for adults and families. For information, 914-232-9555.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm