‘Moods’ to grace museum’s walls

 “The Subway”, 1950, egg tempera on composition board, 18 1/8 x 36 1/8 in., by George Tooker (1920-2011). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23. Courtesy of the Estate of George Tooker and DC Moore Gallery, N.Y. Photography by Sheldan C. Collins.

“The Subway”, 1950, egg tempera on composition board, 18 1/8 x 36 1/8 in., by George Tooker (1920-2011). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23. Courtesy of the Estate of George Tooker and DC Moore Gallery, N.Y. Photography by Sheldan C. Collins.

 

Opening Friday, June 27, 2014 at the Frist Center for the Visual Art in Nashville, Tennessee, “Real/Surreal: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art” will focus on art created between the 1920s and 1950s, the exhibition traces the influence of celebrated European Surrealists on American artists ranging from Man Ray and Federico Castellón to Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and more. The exhibition will remain on view through October 13, 2014 and will feature more than 60 paintings, photographs and prints.

Hopper approaches Surrealism with “Rooms by the Sea” (1951), oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 40 in., where an open door gives a view of the ocean, without an apparent ladder or steps and no indication of a beach.

Hopper approaches Surrealism with “Rooms by the Sea” (1951), oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 40 in., where an open door gives a view of the ocean, without an apparent ladder or steps and no indication of a beach.

 

     Surrealism was an international movement in art and literature that originated in Europe in the 1920s. While some of its practitioners explored abstraction and used the subconscious to directly influence the formal structure of their work, others developed imagery with strong roots in traditional painting.

     This vein of Surrealism flourished most famously in the work of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, and it was particularly influential for American artists who were academically trained and had a command of realistic painting and drawing techniques.

     As the movement spread to the US, the fundamental ideas behind it became more diffuse and were interpreted in a variety of ways. Frist Center Curator Katie Delmez says, “Most people don’t immediately think of Edward Hopper or Thomas Hart Benton as being influenced by Surrealism, but there are in fact links, in particular the notion of something unsettling lying beneath the surface.”

“La Fortune”, 1938, oil on canvas, 24 × 29 in., by Man Ray. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Simon Foundation Inc.  72.129. © 2009 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris.

“La Fortune”, 1938, oil on canvas, 24 × 29 in., by Man Ray. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Simon Foundation Inc. 72.129. © 2009 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris.

      The subject matter depicted in this exhibition will range from commonplace objects and experiences to fantastic and cryptic imagery as is the case in “La Fortune” (1938) by Man Ray in which a billiard table grounded in a barren landscape inexplicably projects into a sky of boldly colored clouds.

      Federico Castellón’s haunting and foreboding painting, “The Dark Figure” (1938) pairs crisp hyperrealism with fantastic imagery of familiar forms such as disembodied limbs in contorted positions, decaying architectural forms and a faceless silhouette.

“The Dark Figure”, 1938. oil on canvas, 17 3/8 x 26 ¼ in., by Federico Castellón (1914–1971). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 42.3.Digital Image © Whitney Museum of American Art.

“The Dark Figure”, 1938. oil on canvas, 17 3/8 x 26 ¼ in., by Federico Castellón (1914–1971). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 42.3.Digital Image © Whitney Museum of American Art.

      Themes of isolation and solitude typically associated with the pressures of contemporary urban life were common during this period. The female subject in “Subway” (1950) by George Tooker, for example, who is surrounded by ominous and clone-like strangers in a labyrinthine subway station, appears anxious and paranoid.

      Although the work of American artists Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth did not typically include fanciful imagery, their subject matter and composition often conveys similar moods of unease. “Hopper specializes in portraying the psychological isolation that many people were feeling at the time, either in urban environments as seen in the individual patrons of the diner in his well-known work “Nighthawks” or in small towns as demonstrated by “Cape Cod Sunset” in our exhibition. The unnaturally diffused lighting and lack of human figures or other signs of habitation or life, aside from half drawn window shades, evoke a literal loneliness and sense that something is not quite right,” says Curator Delmez.

“Nighthawks”, 1942, oil on canvas, 33 1/8 x 60 in., by Edward Hopper. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

“Nighthawks”, 1942, oil on canvas, 33 1/8 x 60 in., by Edward Hopper. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

      To explain this feeling of despair, scholars point to a litany of historical events and sweeping changes during the 30s, 40s and 50s: the rise in industrialization and urbanization, the devastating Great Depression and Dust Bowl, World War II and the realization of mass murder through technology. “The artists in this exhibition are responding to their times and reflecting some of the anxiety that was then permeating our society,” says Ms. Delmez.

“Cape Cod Sunset”, 1934, oil on canvas., by Edward Hopper. Whitney Museum of American Art.

“Cape Cod Sunset”, 1934, oil on canvas., by Edward Hopper. Whitney Museum of American Art.

     More can be discovered at www.fristcenter.org or call 615.244.3340.

About

The Vision of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is to inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways with its Mission is to present and originate high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities.

     Since it first opened in 2001, the Frist Center has hosted a spectacular array of art from the region, the country, and around the world; thusly it has become a magnet for Nashville’s rapidly expanding visual arts scene. With an exhibitions schedule that has new art flowing through the magnificent Art Deco building every 6 to 8 weeks.

     Editor’s note: A world class firsthand experience in the heart of the USA.

 




Published by on May 2014. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette NewsWire/AAPNW, News (Time related), Northwest Passage Record/NWPR, Palette News Arts Network/PNAN, Tennessee. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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