Indepth Arts News: |
"Scenes of American Life: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art
2000-09-13 until 2000-11-12
Telfair Museum of Art
Scenes of American Life: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art
Museum presents over 60 important paintings and sculptures celebrating American life in the first
half of the 20th century. The exhibition will be on view from September 13 to November 12, 2000.
Exploring farm and factory, jazz and street life, and workers and mothers, American artists captured the
carefree exhilaration of the Roaring Twenties, the stark drama of the Great Depression, the common
cause of the war years, and the new confidence of the years following World War II.
Edward Hopper, probably the most
well known artist in the exhibition, is
the quintessential realist painter. In
1933 he said, My aim in painting
has always been the most exact
transcription possible of my most
intimate impressions of nature.
Whether depicting East Coast
lighthouses or the diners, cafeterias
and movie houses of New York City,
Hopper imbued his compositions with
a sense of loneliness and isolation. In
addition to using dramatic contrasts of
light and shadow to heighten the sense
of mood, he frequently depicted a
solitary figure in his paintings.
Together these artistic devices
conspired to create a foreboding
quality, as in Cape Cod Morning. In
this eerie yet compelling narrative scene, the female figure watches intently out the window as the
gloomy wood in the background seems to encroach on the safety of the house.
In contrast to Hoppers work, Ralston Crawfords
figureless composition, Buffalo Grain Elevators,
celebrates the new industrialism that captured the
imagination of many American artists in the early
20th century. Emphasizing the geometry of
modern-day factories, Crawford contrasted the
massive cylinders of the grain elevators lining
Buffalos waterfront with the delicate bridges and
According to Elizabeth Broun, Director of the
Smithsonian American Art Museum, The idea of
painting the common man and daily life was new
at the turn of the 20th century. Artists moved
away from the elegance and formality of the Gilded
Age and began presenting everyday people at work and at play. These energetic and often witty
artworks seemed to symbolize the true strength of the nation.
On Wednesday, September 13th at 7:00 p.m., art historian Bill Kloss will give an opening lecture for
Scenes of American Life. Kloss will discuss works by Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Andrew
Wyeth and other American luminaries of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Kloss has lectured extensively on
the Smithsonian American Art Museums permanent collection and is the author of Treasures from
the National Museum of American Art. A reception will follow the lecture. Please note that
this opening will be held on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday. Scenes of American Life:
Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum is one of eight exhibitions in Treasures to
Go, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting
these treasures to the American people.