Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation

Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation


First Survey Exhibition of American Art Ever Presented in the People’s Republic of China to Open in Beijing on February 10 Venue: National Art Museum of China


1 Wusi Street, East District, Beijing 100010
February 10–April 5, 2007


Press Preview: Friday, February 9, 2007, 10:00 am


(New York, NY – January 24, 2007) President George H. W. Bush has agreed to be the Honorary Chair of the Honorary Committee for Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, it was announced today by Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. The exhibition, organized by the Guggenheim in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, is the first survey of American art ever to be presented in the People’s Republic of China. Joining President George H. W. Bush on the Honorary Committee are Honorary Vice Chairs: The Honorable and Mrs. Clark T. Randt, U.S. Ambassador to China; The Honorable Sun Jiazheng, Minister of Culture, P.R.C; and The Honorable Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador of the P.R.C. to the U.S.


“We are delighted that President Bush shares with the exhibition organizers a sense of the historic importance of Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, and that he appreciates the great potential of U.S.-China cultural diplomacy and exchange,” said Thomas Krens. “The realization of this exhibition is truly an historic moment, and we are enormously pleased to have the endorsement of President Bush, whose distinguished service in China makes this all the more meaningful.”


Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation features approximately 130 important works of American art spanning the Colonial period to the present age, focusing on painting drawn from major U.S. and European collections, including the Terra Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation. The exhibition premieres in Beijing at the National Art Museum of China, from February 10 through April 5, 2007, and travels to Shanghai where it will be jointly presented by the Shanghai Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, from May 1 to June 30, 2007.

This exhibition has been organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.

This exhibition is made possible by Alcoa Foundation.

Major original funding is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Ford Motor Company Fund and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

The exhibition at National Art Museum of China in Beijing is also generously supported by Cadillac, while the presentation at Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai is generously supported by Hugo Boss.

“The Guggenheim’s commitment to China has been central to its identity and strategy as a global cultural institution,” said Thomas Krens, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. “We are pleased to work with our museum partners in Beijing and Shanghai to realize Art in America, the first historical survey of American art ever presented in China. The exhibition offers an extraordinary view of our nation’s cultural and historical developments and bold creative principles. This project promises to increase understanding of American history and culture among the Chinese public, and hopefully can be an inspirational threshold for greater dialogue between the peoples and cultures of America and China.”

“An international lens informs all that we do at the Terra Foundation,” said Elizabeth Glassman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Terra Foundation for American Art. “In the largest sense, our goal for Art in America is to expand and enrich knowledge of American art among Chinese audiences. By revealing the complexities of our nation’s history and artistic heritage, we seek to distinguish our own culture while simultaneously forging new and enduring connections with the Chinese. We are pleased to partner with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in this historic exhibition and extend our thanks to all the lenders for sharing their treasurers with the world.”

“Alcoa Foundation is pleased to support another important Guggenheim cultural exchange, Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, and we look forward to sharing these rich representations of the American experience with the Chinese people, particularly the opportunity to bring this history to a variety of regional audiences through the educational program,” said Alain J. P. Belda, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa. “We congratulate the Guggenheim for assembling this impressive set of works.”

“It was in 1998 that the Guggenheim first approached the Henry Luce Foundation with the exciting idea for the exhibition and catalogue Art in America,” said Michael Gilligan, President of the Luce Foundation. “Given our longstanding commitment to promoting better understanding between America and China and to bringing the work of American artists to more widespread attention, this is a natural fit. We are honored to assist in this important undertaking to bring 300 years of American art to China, and we look forward to sharing this artistic heritage with the Chinese people, who have long shared theirs with us.”

Exhibition Overview
Divided into six historical periods, Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation demonstrates how the art of each era both reflected and contributed to a complex visual narrative of the nation during times of discovery, growth, and experimentation. The exhibition explores issues of identity, creation, innovation, and scale—characteristics integral to the American consciousness and derived in part from the variety and vastness of the cultural, political, ethnic, economic, and natural landscapes of the United States. The six sections, each marking significant phases of the country’s development, are: Colonization and Rebellion (1700–1830), Expansion and Fragmentation (1830–80), Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism (1880–1915), Modernism and Regionalism (1915–45), Prosperity and Disillusionment (1945–80), and Multiculturalism and Globalization (1980–present).

The exhibition features approximately 120 artists from the early 18th century to the present and includes, among many others: John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, George Catlin, Frederic Edwin Church, Edward Hicks, Winslow Homer, Martin Johnson Heade, John Singer Sargent, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Frederick Remington, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Brice Marden, Chuck Close, Lawrence Weiner, Richard Prince, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Kara Walker, and Matthew Barney.

Included among the many highlights of the exhibition are: Benjamin West’s Penn’s Treaty with the Indians (1771–72 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Charles Willson Peale’s George Washington (ca. 1780–82, Walton Family Foundation); Thomas Cole’s Landscape with Figures: A Scene from “The Last of the Mohicans” (1826, Terra Foundation for American Art); Henry Inman’s Yoholo-Micco (1832–33, High Museum of Art, Atlanta); George Caleb Bingham’s Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (1851–52, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis); Asher B. Durand’s A Symbol (1856, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga); Edward P. Moran’s The Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886, Museum of the City of New York); Winslow Homer’s Watching the Breakers: A High Sea (1896, The Arkell Museum at Canajoharie); Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 50 (1914–15, Terra Foundation for American Art); Edward Hopper’s Corn Hill (Truro, Cape Cod) (1930, Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio); Walt Kuhn’s Clown with Drum (1942, Terra Foundation for American Art); Jackson Pollock’s The Moon Woman (1942, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice); Willem de Kooning’s Composition (1955, Solomon R. Guggenheim Musem); Andy Warhol’s Race Riot (1963, Daros Collection, Zurich); Dan Flavin’s green crossing green (to Piet Mondrian who lacked green) (1966, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum); Ed Ruscha’s The Back of Hollywood (1977, Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon); Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Man from Naples (1982, Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa); Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle (1994–2002, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum); Kara Walker’s Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On) (2000, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum); and John Currin’s Thanksgiving (2003, Tate Gallery, London).

The curatorial team of the exhibition has been led by Thomas Krens, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The following curators of American art contributed to the exhibition: Susan Davidson, Senior Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Elizabeth Kennedy, Curator of Collection, Terra Foundation for American Art; and Nancy Mowll Mathews, Eugénie Prendergast Senior Curator of 19th and 20th Century Art, Williams College Museum of Art.

The exhibition benefited from the expertise of the following scholars of American art and modernism: Michael Leja, Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania; the late Robert Rosenblum, Professor of Fine Arts, New York University, and Stephen and Nan Swid Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and John Wilmerding, Christopher B. Sarofim Professor of American Art, Princeton University, and a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

A fully illustrated color catalogue published in both English and Chinese editions accompanies the exhibition. Michael Leja contributed a main essay outlining the major movements in American art from the Colonial period to the present. Additionally, each section contains an overview essay written by a leading scholar of the period. Margaretta M. Lovell contributed a text on early American portraiture; David M. Lubin wrote on 19th-century art and material culture; Nancy Mowll Mathews examined Americans abroad and at home; Justin Wolff investigated the impact of industrialization on American art; Robert Rosenblum explored America’s rise as a world art power in the postwar period; and Susan Cross commented on the issues of American art in a global context. Shorter essays on relevant thematic topics are also included: Patricia Johnston and Jessica Lanier explored Chinese influences on early American visual culture; Anthony Lee contributed an essay on Chinese-American artists and the Chinese Diaspora in the United States; and Elizabeth Kennedy addressed the myth of the American cowboy.

Education Program
The educational program development for Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation has involved a dynamic cross-cultural exchange between the Guggenheim education staff and their curatorial and education colleagues at the museums in China. The exchange focused on learning about the educational philosophies and approaches employed by each institution and has resulted in the codevelopment of exhibition-related public programs relevant to the regional audiences of the host venues. Two working sessions, one in New York, and the other in China, have ensured that interpretive materials and educational activities prepared for this exhibition would best serve Chinese audiences and reflect a true exchange between Asian and Western museological cultures.

Education programs for Beijing will include an academic symposium on February 10, featuring talks by select American exhibition catalogue essayists and in dialogue with Chinese scholars responding to this historic presentation of American art. Participants include: Chen Danqing, Susan Davidson, Fan Di’an, Elizabeth Glassman, Gu Sen, Elizabeth Kennedy, Thomas Krens, Michael Leja, David Lubin, Nancy Mowll Mathews, Alexandra Munroe, Pan Gongkai, Wang Duanting, and Yu Ding. The Beijing university audience will be targeted through a series of outreach programs culminating in an on-site museum program. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the National Art Museum of China intend to sustain the impact of the exhibition through a library exchange program. The Beijing and Shanghai venues will incorporate docent training and public lectures on American art. A full-color brochure will accompany the exhibition and be available to museum visitors free of charge.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of visual culture, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, and to the collection, conservation, and study of the art of our time. The Foundation realizes this mission through exceptional exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications, and strives to engage and educate an increasingly diverse international audience through its unique network of museums and cultural partnerships. Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates three museums: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice; and the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas. The Foundation also provides programming and management for two other museums in Europe that bear its name: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. Through a unique alliance agreement, the Guggenheim Foundation shares its collections and collaborates on programming with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Dating to 1996, when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation collection was shown at the Shanghai Museum as one of the first exhibitions of modern Western art in China, the Guggenheim’s commitment to China has been central to its identity and strategy as a global cultural institution. In 1998, the Guggenheim presented China: 5000 Years, an unprecedented masterpiece survey of Chinese art, archeology, and culture from ancient to modern periods, drawn from China’s major museums and organized in cooperation with the P.R.C. Ministry of Culture. Recently, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum established a curatorial position for Asian art, the first within a modern and contemporary art museum in the west. In 2008, the Guggenheim in New York will present the first museum retrospective of the work of contemporary Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.

Terra Foundation for American Art
The Terra Foundation for American Art is committed to fostering innovative projects that emphasize multinational perspectives and participation. Throughout its 27-year history, the Terra Foundation has supported exhibitions, scholarship, and educational programs designed to engage individuals around the globe in an enriched and enriching dialogue on American art. The Terra Foundation’s collection of American art spans the Colonial era through 1945, and includes more than 700 works. Currently, the Terra Foundation operates the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny; actively lends works in its collection to national and international exhibitions that advance American art scholarship; awards grants to exhibitions and programs that explore American art in Europe, Canada, Latin America, and now, Asia; and supports scholars through residential fellowships at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., as well as through travel grants offered through the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, the John-F.-Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien in Berlin, and l’Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris.

January 24, 2007

Betsy Ennis
Guggenheim Public Affairs
212 423 3840


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