Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s

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Franz Marc, Stables (Stallungen), 1913

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Edward Hopper, Manhattan Bridge Loop, 1928

Edward Hopper, Manhattan Bridge Loop, 1928. Oil on canvas, 88.9 x 152.4 cm. Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; gift of Stephen C. Clark, Esq. 1932.17

Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s

June 28–October 12, 2008
The Peggy Guggenheim hosts the only Italian venue of this exhibition’s international tour from June 28 to October 12.

The exhibition opens with landscapes by Albert Bierstadt, Jasper Cropsey, Frederic Church, and others of the Hudson River School depicting a wild and uncontaminated America, together with landscapes by the Luminists, led by Fitz Hugh Lane, which are striking for their symbolic use of light. The Tonalists, influenced by the French Barbizon School, provide an emotional portrayal of more dramatic landscapes, while artists such as Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer interpret subjects and national landscapes through the lens of realism. The arrival of the new century is marked by both the reinterpretation of European Impressionist and Post-Impressionist aesthetics of Maurice Prendergast, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Morton Schamberg, for example, and by expatriate artists such as John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler who were painting in Europe. Early in the 20th century exponents of the Ashcan School (such as Robert Henri, John Sloan, and George Bellows) contributed, with a realism of European origin, to the general process of redefining American culture by depicting the New York urban scene, while other artists, such as Stuart Davis, Man Ray, John Marin, Alfred Stieglitz, and Georgia O’Keeffe, developed an American brand of modernism. The 1920s and 30s witnessed the arrival of European immigrants such as Josef Albers, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and Hans Hofmann, introducing a generation of American painters to new theories of color, form, and space, creating the basis for the development of the Abstract Expressionism of Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and David Smith in the late 1940s and contributing the notion of authentic American art. The primacy of New York is further reinforced during the 1950s, thanks to Abstract artists such as Ad Reinhardt and Frank Stella, claiming a central position for American avant-garde art on the international art map.

Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s is curated by William C. Agee, professor of art history at Hunter College, CUNY, New York, and by Susan C. Faxon, associate director and curator of the Addison Gallery of American Art. The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts, New York, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. It is made possible, in part, by The Crosby Kemper Foundation and by Frank B. Bennett and William D. Cohan, with additional support from the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation Fund for Collection-Based Exhibitions at the American Federation of Arts. In Venice the exhibition has the patronage of the Embassy of the United States of America in Rome and the Consulate General of the United States of America in Milan. It has also benefited from the support of the Regione of Veneto, from Codess Cultura and iGuzzini, technical sponsors, and from the collaboration of Vodafone.