Published: February 7, 2012
Opening February 10 and on view through June 10, the Florence Griswold Museum presents “&sms: Unlocking Art’s Mysteries,” an exhibition of 100 works of American art and culture from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries that seeks to explain art movements and styles.
The exhibition is perfect for non-museum-goers as an introduction to these stylistic concepts. Seasoned art lovers will enjoy testing their knowledge and learning about the larger historical contexts that have informed artists’ work. The exhibition fosters a richer appreciation of familiar objects from the collection, as well as introduces new acquisitions and selected loans.
While some “isms” began as official movements initiated by artists, many, such as Impressionism or Tonalism, acquired their names from critics who recognized new developments in art and coined terms to describe them.
Occasionally, as in the case of Luminism, these labels were not assigned until a century later, when art historians discerned, in hindsight, qualities of light and mood shared by American landscape paintings of the mid-to-late Nineteenth Century. The air of serenity, glassy water and spiritual light effects in John F. Kensett’s “Fort Dumpling, Rhode Island,” 1871, identify it as a Luminist painting.
Some “isms” describe trends specific to the visual arts, such as Academicism. Other “isms,” such as Romanticism, reflect broad cultural trends that were explored not only in the visual arts, but also in literature, music and theater. Often, works of art embody the characteristics of more than one “ism.” By asking how different works embody the traits of a particular “ism,” this exhibition demonstrates that these stylistic categories are by no means rigid.
Two series are being conducted in conjunction with the exhibition. Assistant curator Amanda Burdan’s Winter Studies course is a ten-week lecture course elaborating on the characteristics of selected movements and puts them in historical context. Burdan also highlights key works on view in the exhibition. The lectures run on Fridays from February 17 through April 20. The morning session begins at 10 am and the afternoon session begins at 2 pm. Tuition is $250. Register at FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org or at 860-434-5542, extension 111.
A partnership between the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library and the museum titled “&sms: A Study of Styles in Art, Literature and Film” is an eight-session series investigating the notion of artistic styles in a variety of media. The series takes place on Thursdays at 7 pm from March 1 through April 19. Participants may attend any or all programs, which are free thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council. Registration is recommended by calling the library at 860-434-1684 or the museum.
The Florence Griswold Museum is at 96 Lyme Street. For additional information, www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org or 860-434-5542.
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