“American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell at The Ringling” by Pamela Beck

If you weren’t one of the 900 or so revelers at The Ringling for the recent opening of “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell,” when was the last time you saw an exhibition including paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Joseph Stella and Norman Rockwell in the same show?

ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.

If you weren’t one of the 900 or so revelers at The Ringling for the recent opening of  “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell,” when was the last time you saw an exhibition including paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Joseph Stella and Norman Rockwell in the same show?

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943). Handsome Drinks, 1916. Oil on composition board, 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Lowenthal, 72.3
Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943). Handsome Drinks, 1916. Oil on composition board, 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Lowenthal, 72.3

These paintings and works by other artists (57 artworks in total) comprise this traveling exhibition organized and co- curated by the Brooklyn Museum from their permanent collection.

Joseph Stella (American, born Italy, 1877-1946). The Virgin, 1926. Oil on canvas, 39 11-16 x 38 3-4 in. (100.8 x 98.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Adolph Lewisohn, 28.207
Joseph Stella (American, born Italy, 1877-1946). The Virgin, 1926. Oil on canvas, 39 11-16 x 38 3-4 in. (100.8 x 98.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Adolph Lewisohn, 28.207

Steven High, executive director of The Ringling, describes this time period in our country covered in the show as follows: “Between 1910 and 1960, both American society and art underwent tumultuous and far-reaching transformations. The United States emerged as an international power of economic industrial and military might, while also experiencing two world wars and the Great Depression.”

Max Weber (American, born Russia, 1881-1961). Abraham Walkowitz, 1907. Oil on canvas, 25 1-4 x 20 1-4 in. (64.1 x 51.4 cm), Framed- 30 1-2 x 25 1-2 in. (77.5 x 64.8 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Abraham Walkowitz, 44.65
Max Weber (American, born Russia, 1881-1961). Abraham Walkowitz, 1907. Oil on canvas, 25 1-4 x 20 1-4 in. (64.1 x 51.4 cm), Framed- 30 1-2 x 25 1-2 in. (77.5 x 64.8 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Abraham Walkowitz, 44.65

Mindful of the impact these enormous societal, cultural and economic changes had on artists during this particular time in history, the exhibition is divided into six themes:

Cubist Experiments

The Still Life Revisited

Nature Essentialized

Modern Structures

Engaging Characters

Americana

As a result, a broad variety of subject matter and styles can be contemplated and seen on a walk through the Searing Wing. For example, art depicting America’s urbanization and industrialization is displayed, as are reactions to these modern changes—seen in paintings of organic natural beauty. 2Oth century American artists’ responses to European cubism are on view, as are more traditional artworks reflecting American self-definition and identity.

The useful and beautifully illustrated catalogue reinforces this overview and is a wonderful companion to the exhibition. It parallels the curators’ choice to present the multi-faceted American Modern artist sensibility through thought provoking thematic commonalities and contrasts rather than dry chronological order.

Matthew McLendon, The Ringling’s curator of modern and contemporary art says what excites him about this exhibition is “seeing, in a very condensed way, the enormous amount of innovation, evolution and productivity in the American art scene during this time.”

This is a diverse group of artists. And while it’s wonderful to see “old friends” exhibited together, the inclusion of work by unfamiliar or lesser-known artists adds a welcome element of surprise.

George Copeland Ault (American, 1891-1948). Manhattan Mosaic, 1947. Oil on canvas, 31 7-8 x 18 in. (81 x 45.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 66.127
George Copeland Ault (American, 1891-1948). Manhattan Mosaic, 1947. Oil on canvas, 31 7-8 x 18 in. (81 x 45.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 66.127

But the old favorites don’t disappoint. From the exuberant splashes of bold color, controlled energy and hard-edged shapes of Stuart Davis, and the powerfully charged, course canvases of intense color and simple forms of Marsden Hartley (which somehow always feel like self-portraits whether they’re of a bird or a glass), to the up-close-and-personal Georgia O’Keefe—you’ll recognize the work of many artists from across a crowded room. (This speaks volumes about the personal “thumbprint” of every artist.)

 

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943). Summer Clouds and Flowers, 1942. Oil on fabricated board, 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm). © Estate of Marsden Hartley, Yale University
Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943). Summer Clouds and Flowers, 1942. Oil on fabricated board, 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm). © Estate of Marsden Hartley, Yale University

For O’Keeffe fans, the inclusion of two unusual choices is interesting to note:  “Green, Yellow and Orange,” a completely abstract painting, and “Fishhook from Hawaii,” a wonderful work with imagery created for a Dole Pineapple Company ad campaign which O’Keeffe worked on (while experiencing financial hardship during the Great Depression). The telescoping effect created by the loops of wire, and the oversized feathery fish lure, play beautifully with space, color and optical illusion (not illustrated here).

Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986). Green, Yellow and Orange, 1960. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe, 87.136.3
Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986). Green, Yellow and Orange, 1960. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe, 87.136.3

We’re fortunate The Ringling has brought in an exhibition to expose viewers to a period of American art not substantially represented in the museum’s permanent collection.

It’s all the more impressive that this exciting show takes place during our supposedly “slow” Sarasota summer months, yet had the biggest turnout on a members’ opening night in The Ringling’s history.

When you see the exhibition yourself, you’ll know why.

 

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

“American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell”

June 14- Sept. 8, 2013

5401 Bay Shore Rd.

Sarasota

941 359-5700

www.ringling.org

 

American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell, has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum

Pamela Beck
Pamela Beck

Pamela co-owned Pannonia Galleries in NYC. There she was also an art appraiser, private art dealer, art fair exhibitor and catalogued paintings at Sotheby’s. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she is also a psychotherapist. She has a keen interest in the arts and supporting Sarasota’s future as a lively, diverse and forward thinking city for young and old. Pamela is a member of The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Curatorial & Acquisitions Committee and Institute for the Ages Volunteer.

American Moderns at The Ringling

June 14 – September 8, 2013
Ringling Museum of Art

American Moderns, 1910–1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell presents fifty-seven artworks from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum in an exploration of the myriad ways in which American artists engaged with modernity. Ranging widely in subject matter and style, the fifty-three paintings and four sculptures were produced by leading artists of the day, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Rockwell Kent, Joseph Stella, Elie Nadelman, and Norman Rockwell. Significant works by these and other artists in the exhibition exemplify their unique contributions to modern culture.

Georgia O'Keeffe, 2 Yellow Leaves, 1928, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe, 2 Yellow Leaves, 1928, Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe

To See as Artists See: American Art from The Phillips Collection

February 2 – April 28, 2013
Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art will host a once-in-a-generation exhibition of American masterpieces from The Phillips Collection. Presenting 105 paintings by seventy-five artists that trace the course of American painting from the 1850s through the 1960s.

February 2 – April 28, 2013
Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art will host a once-in-a-generation exhibition of American masterpieces from The Phillips Collection. Presenting 105 paintings by seventy-five artists that trace the course of American painting from the 1850s through the 1960s. Artists included in the exhibition are Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, John Sloan, Rockwell Kent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, Jacob Lawrence, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko. The exhibiton takes its title from an oft quoted line from Duncan Phillips’ own writing on art, “All of us can acquire eyes wherewith to see the world as artists see it, variously, selectively, intellectually or emotionally, in full possession of the latent capacity for seeing nature in pictures and pictures in nature.”

Hassam
Childe Hassam, Washington Arch, Spring, 1890, Oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 21 5/8 in.;, 66.3575 x 54.9275 cm, Acquired 1921, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

To See as Artists See is the first large-scale, traveling presentation of the Phillips’s celebrated collection of American art, chronicling the broad scope and richness of its holdings. The exhibiton had its premiere in Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy, then traveled to the Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid, Spain, and National Art Center Tokyo, Japan. It has been shown at only two U.S. venues: The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. Tampa Museum of Art Executive Director, Todd D. Smith remarked, “The Tampa presentation will be the final showing of this spectacular collection before it is returned to Washington. It will be celebrated with a homecoming exhibition at the Phillips in 2014.”

Winslow Homer, To the Rescue, 1886, Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in.; 60.96 x 76.2 cm, Acquired 1926, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

The exhibition unfolds in ten thematic groups:

Romanticism and Realism (Works by Thomas Eakins, Edward Hicks, Winslow Homer, George Inness, and Albert Pinkham Ryder)
Impressionism (Works by Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast, Theodore Robinson, and John Henry Twachtman);
Forces in Nature (Works by Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, John Marin, Harold Weston, and others);
Nature and Abstraction (Works by Arthur Dove, Hartley, Kent, Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Augustus Vincent Tack, and Max Weber);
Modern Life (Works by Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, Walt Kuhn, George Luks, Guy Pène du Bois, and others);
The City (Works by Ralston Crawford, Hopper, Marin, Charles Sheeler, John Sloan, and others);
Memory and Identity (Works by Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, Grandma Moses, and Horace Pippin);
Legacy of Cubism (Works by Ilya Bolotowsky, Stuart Davis, John Graham, Karl Knaths, Marin, and others);
Transition to Abstract Expressionism (Works by Milton Avery, Alexander Calder, Morris Graves, Alfonso Ossorio, and Jackson Pollock); and
Abstract Expressionism (Works by Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolf Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still).

About the Phillips Collection
Founded by Duncan Phillips in 1918, The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., opened to the public in 1921 as America’s first museum of modern art. An astute collector, Phillips assembled much of his collection by patronizing contemporary artists, often buying a representative selection of their work. With the collection’s growth, in 1930 Phillips chose to give over the entire 1896 house built by his parents to the museum, allowing visitors to encounter the art within the intimate spaces of his boyhood home.

Phillips develeped an amazing eye for building a collection that was based on a vision that arose from deeply felt personal experience and was informed by a lifetime of search and study. Before the great histories of modern art were written, before there was a Museum of Modern Art or a National Gallery of Art, Phillips sought out with astonishing success the works of Impressionist and modernist masters. And he alone among his collecting peers assembled works with such a pointedly public mission, wanting from the start to share with the public the experiences of great works of art in circumstances that were personal and intimate. This exhibition tells the story of modern American art from the viewpoint of a profoundly prescient eye. The late Robert Hughes, former art critic for Time magazine, put it this way: “Everyone who loves early modern art loves The Phillips Collection and envies Washington for having it.”

GENERAL HOURS AND ADMISSION
The Museum opens daily at 11 a.m. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. General admission prices are: adult $10; seniors, groups, military plus one guest $7.50; students $5; and children ages 6 and under free-of-charge. A-pay-what-you-will fee structure is offered every Friday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The Museum’s address is 120 Gasparilla Plaza Tampa, FL 33602. Contact (813) 274-8130 with inquiries.


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