Published: November 2, 2010
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has organized the first major exhibition of its American works on paper from the years 1910 to 1960. “American Moderns on Paper: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art” includes more than 100 key works from the museum’s permanent collection †including a recently acquired Georgia O’Keeffe pastel †providing a new look at the diverse directions pursued by Modern artists in America.
“American Moderns on Paper” is on view through January 17, following a two-venue tour in 2010 at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, respectively.
The exhibition also highlights the Wadsworth’s role at the forefront of American modern art through its early acquisition of works by artists like Edward Hopper, Charles Demuth, Salvador Dali and Ellsworth Kelly.
“The collection of American Modernist works on paper is a point of pride for the Wadsworth, as we were one of the first museums to collect and exhibit these works, which have since been recognized as seminal reflections of the development of Modern art in this country,” said Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, who served as curator of the exhibition and until recently was the chief curator and Krieble curator of American painting and sculpture at the Wadsworth.
“We are very excited to be able to share these treasures with a national audience, including our most recent acquisition, a Georgia O’Keeffe pastel entitled ‘Slightly Open Clam Shell,'” Kornhauser continued. “O’Keeffe is one of the preeminent Modern masters and she worked on paper throughout her career, but her work was not represented in the Wadsworth’s collection of works on paper †making this acquisition a transformative addition to our existing collection.”
The exhibition also presents watercolor as an essentially American medium that was well suited to the restless, spontaneous and confident American spirit. The inclusion of works by both the Neo-Romantics and the Surrealists who came to the United States in the 1930s, in addition to that of native-born American artists, give the Wadsworth Atheneum’s works on paper collection its character. The diversity of styles in the early Twentieth Century, specifically the tension between Modernism and anti-modernism is also explored.
A dedicated website, www.americanmoderns.org, accompanies the exhibition and provides an in-depth exploration of 12 objects with video commentary from the curators and information regarding the conservation of the works and their frames. Original material from the museum’s archives, such as artists’ letters and photographs, has also been digitized and appears on the site.
A scholarly catalog, published by Yale University Press, also is available.
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is at 600 Main Street. For more information, www.wadsworthatheneum.org or 860-278-2670.
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