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Archive for the ‘Appropriation & Inspiration’ Category

This post comes to us from Rena Tobey, Curatorial Intern.

The long summer days are here, and your thoughts may have turned to spending some time in nature, sketchbook in hand.  Another alternative is to visit the Henry & Sharon Martin Gallery at the Museum.  Here, you can immerse in nature as close by as New Haven and as far away as the California.

In the 1800s, the Hudson River School artists traveled to their favorite scenic spots in the Catskill, Adirondack Mountains and beyond, seeking out the same scenery we enjoy today.  Over the winter months in their studios, they transformed their sketches into luminous landscapes that had come to represent America and its abundant natural resources.

Thomas Cole, the founding father of the Hudson River School, imbues the land with even more power.  He inserted symbols and figures that represented philosophical ideas he hoped would sway his viewers’ beliefs and actions.

Cole came to the United States at 17 from industrialized England.  He knew first-hand how modernization and urbanization could devastate open space and pollute cities.  When he made his first trip up New York’s Hudson River in 1825, he was awed by the vast beauty of the land that was on the cusp of change.  He believed Americans were at a decision-point.  What would the future be like in this land?

What the artist actually saw and what he chose to paint present the different choices.  In 1807, the steamboat was invented, changing the navigation of rivers.  Now, timetables, not the wind and tides, dictated travel.  Maybe you’ve taken a daytrip during the weekend to break the routine of your life.  Two hundred years ago, people were no different.  They seized the opportunity to get out of New York City and into nature—for a picnic, a stroll in the woods—and still get back home the same day.

The Clove, Catskills, 1826.  Thomas Cole (1801-1848).  Oil on canvas, 25 ¼ x 35 1/8 in.  Charles F. Smith Fund, 1945.22.

Thomas Cole (1801-1848), The Clove, Catskills, 1826, Oil on canvas, 25 ¼ x 35 1/8 in. Charles F. Smith Fund, 1945.22.

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Gentleman with Negro Attendant, ca. 1785-88. Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Oil on Canvas. New Britain Museum of American Art. Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1948.06.

Upon a quick glance, the newest addition to the Colonial Gallery at the New BritainMuseum of American Art has left some visitors panic-stricken – an understandable  reaction considering the fact that the painting has two large holes cut out of it. But do not worry, the NBMAA has not been vandalized, in fact, the holes are meant to be there. The work, Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman, was recently commissioned by the Museum from New Haven artist Titus Kaphar as part of an new project of pairing contemporary art with older works from the permanent collection. The purpose of this project, Appropriation and Inspiration, is to highlight the ways in which historical awareness has shaped the practice of many contemporary artists.  Appropriation and Inspiration is not yet a full-fledged exhibition, but rather a budding initiative that will develop into a museum-wide installation in the near future.

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One of Efremoff’s artworks

Efremoff is on the forefront of New Media art. He obtained his MFA from the University of Connecticut, and has exhibited all over the United States and abroad in counties including Italy, Germany, and South Korea.

Working in this “new media” is, of course,  new and constantly in flux. New Media was pioneered in the 1960s, and modern technology has opened the door to endless possibilities. The very definition of “art” comes into question with these new parameters because of the plastic nature of the medium. (more…)

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Bryson Burroughs (1869-1934) worked as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 28 years in the early 20th century. During his time at the Met, he was responsible for their massive increase in American art holdings, in addition to numerous other achievements including the first acquisition for a public collection of a work by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Burroughs’ curatorial decisions and influences were prominent in the advancement of the art market in the early 20th century. Interestingly, his ideas also had a major impact on the NBMAA’s decision to collect solely American art, with a focus on contemporary work.

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Frederick Carl Frieseke, The Green Parasol, 1915, Oil on Canvas, 31 3/4 x 32 in. The Jack Warner Collection.

The Green Parasol, 1915. Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939). Oil on Canvas, 31 3/4 x 32 in. The Jack Warner Collection.

One of the main artists featured in the upcoming exhibition An American Odyssey: The Warner Collection of American Art is Frederick Carl Frieseke. Born in Michigan, he studied at The Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1893. Afterwards he went to the Art Students League in New York City in 1897, until he finally traveled to Paris in 1898. Abroad, he developed and refined his style. In Paris Frieseke studied at the Académie Julien and at the Académie Carmen under James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) for a brief period. (more…)

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Washington Square Park, New York City

Washington Square Park, New York City

New York City has hundreds of iconic landmarks, parks, monuments, streets, and buildings. During the early 20th century it was a bustling city, full of excitement, investment, and room for expansion and it quickly became a destination for travelers, immigrants, and artists. Art societies and academics became widely accepted and popular, and popped up all over the city. The depictions of New York increased dramatically throughout this time period. This metropolitan destination  could not be missed by any one in the art world, and many moved there to be part of the burgeoning art scene. Therefore, it is no surprise that dozens of prominent artists in the NBMAA’s collection lived and worked in New York City, and derived endless inspiration from the city. (more…)

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Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, 1824, Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in.

George Washington, 1824. Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860). Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Dr. Timothy McLaughlin.

Rembrandt Peale is known for his portraits of George Washington, one of which the New Britain Museum of American Art is delighted to have as a new acquisition this Presidents month. Rembrandt Peale is supposedly the last artist for whom Washington sat shortly preceding his death. Born in 1778 in Pennsylvania to the famous painter Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), Rembrandt began drawing at age eight. His father tutored him in art and the natural sciences, and he produced his first self-portrait at age thirteen. Peale’s most talented area and source of financial mainstay was painting portraits that were solid, accurate, and straightforward. By 1795, he painted a portrait of George Washington that honestly spoke to the hero’s humanity. Peale greatly admired and was inspired by the work of Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), who is known for his Vaughan and Athenaeum portraits of the first President. (more…)

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