Published: May 22, 2007
The Hyde Collection presents the first major exhibition in a quarter century to explore Luminism in Nineteenth Century American landscape paintings.
“Luminist Horizons: The Art and Collection of James A. Suydam” will be on view June 3⁓eptember 16, 2007, in the museum’s Charles R. Wood Gallery.
The exhibition, organized by the National Academy Museum, features 57 paintings by American landscapist James A. Suydam (1819‱865) and the artists of his circle, including John F. Kensett, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, Sanford R. Gifford, Jasper Cropsey and others.
Suydam’s collection, bequeathed in its entirety to the National Academy in 1865, documents the many American and European influences on Suydam and his peers as they explored qualities of light and atmosphere in the landscape.
“Luminist Horizons” reveals the strength of the artist’s collection and presents the first ever retrospective of Suydam’s career, including his masterpiece, “Paradise Rocks, Newport,” 1860.
“Luminist Horizons” contributes a new perspective on the development of Luminism in Civil War America. Often characterized by art historians as an aesthetic of solitary isolation, Luminism was, instead, a gregarious experience for Suydam and his peers. His first acquisition was a landscape (1850) by Asher B. Durand depicting two artists conversing while admiring the landscape.
Accompanied by close friends, such as Kensett, Gifford and Worthington Whittredge, Suydam visited popular sites during the 1850s and 1860s, particularly in the Hudson River Valley, the Mount Washington region, and along the Rhode Island coast. He made these iconic sites his own by interpreting their well-known vistas with his unique colorism, crisp geometry and fresh compositional arrangements.
Suydam was a son of one of New York’s early Dutch merchant families. He inherited a considerable fortune early in life that permitted him to tour Europe and the Middle East for several years after he completed his studies at New York University. His career in art began in middle age, as an amateur painter working under the influence of Durand and the instruction of Kensett, whose landmark “Bash Bish,” 1855, Suydam owned.
By the later 1850s, Suydam transformed himself into a professional artist and was elected to full membership in the National Academy of Design in 1861, the same year as the onset of the Civil War. In the midst of national crisis, Suydam and his peers created an art of stability, peace and order.
“Luminist Horizons” is co-curated by Mark D. Mitchell, associate curator of Nineteenth Century Art at the National Academy Museum, and Katherine E. Manthorne, professor of American art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A full color catalog with essays by the curators, and published by George Braziller Publishers will be available for purchase in the museum store.
Mitchell will present a free lecture on the exhibition Saturday, July 28, in the Helen Froehlich Auditorium at 2 pm.
The Hyde Collection is at 161 Warren Street. For information 518-792-1761 or www.hydecollection.org .
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