Published: December 19, 2000
The Nelson-Atkins Museum Traces the Development of Our National Art
KANSAS CITY, MO. – Winslow Homer-the best loved and most fiercely criticized American painter in the 1870s-once personified the promise of a successful future for American art. More than 50 of Homer’s most famous oil paintings and watercolors, along with less familiar but equally significant works from 1868 to 1881, will be in the exhibition “: Forging a National Art in the 1870s,” February 18 through May 6, at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak Street.
The exhibition is organized by the museum and curated by Dr Margaret C. Conrads, Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art at the Nelson-Atkins. The works have been drawn from museums and private collections across the country including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, The Art Institution of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art and The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The show will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, June 10 through September 9, and October 6 through January 6, 2002, respectively.
Based on the success of his Civil War scene, Homer was catapulted to fame in the late 1860s. throughout the following decade, his scene of everyday life intersected with the pressing social and political topics of the day – women, children, African Americans, farming and the wilderness. Homer’s subjects and techniques – often considered sloppy and crude, giving his work an unfinished appearance- commanded the attention of art critics, who looked to the artist to provide a fully realized national art. Extreme reactions by the press simultaneously labeled Homer as both America’s art hero and renegade. Many artworks that sparked heated controversy during his first full decade as a painter will be displayed.
Homer rattled the art establishment with his honest depictions of contemporary life, and examples of his signature non-traditional approach to subject matter can be seen in “Eagle, Manchester, Massachusetts (High Tide)” and “Milking Time.” Others such as “The Country School” and “Answering the Horn,” show Homer interweaving his personal vision with contemporary requirements for art. Several works, including “A Visit from the Old Mistress,” explore the national search for a status quo after the turmoil of the Civil War. “Breezing Up (A Fair Wind),” “Furling the Jib, Gloucester Harbor” and others give insight to Homer’s fascination with relationship between man and the sea. Beautiful, unconventional images of women such as “Woman and Elephant and Backgammon” are also featured.
The museum is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm; Friday, 10 am to 9 pm; Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm; and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Admission is free on Saturday.
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