Archive for the ‘Beyond Our Walls’ Category

This post comes to us from artist and NBMAA docent Ronald Abbe.

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912 by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was among the most radical works exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show. Oil on canvas, 57 7/8 x 35 1/8 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

One hundred years ago New Yorkers reacted with shock and awe to the Armory Show of 1913. This was their first encounter with European modernism as represented most notably by Picasso and Matisse.  When the show moved on to Boston and Chicago the reception slipped to actual dismay.  Students at the Art Institute of Chicago burned paintings by Matisse (in effigy).



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This post comes to us from Bethany Gugliemino, Curatorial Intern.

“It seems to me that an artist must be a spectator of life; a reverential, enthusiastic, emotional spectator, and then the great dramas of human nature will surge through his mind.”

The Big Dory, 1913. George Bellows (1882-1925). Oil on panel, 18 x 22 in. Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1944.21.

Currently on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is a retrospective exhibition of American artist George Bellows. This exhibit, which is the first complete exhibit of his career in over thirty years, will feature around 130 paintings, drawings, and lithographs. Among these works is one the NBMAA’s own masterpieces, Bellows’s The Big Dory. (more…)

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This post comes to us from Sara Cotter, Curatorial Intern.

A large detail of Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing #1105 “Colored bands of arcs from four corners”” which resides on the Dakille Building on Columbus Blvd.

Today in downtown New Britain a newly-created and highly anticipated Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) wall mural will be unveiled. Wall Drawing #1105 “Colored bands of arcs from four corners” was painted on the exterior of the Dakille Building on Columbus Boulevard as part of Connecticut’s City Canvases Project, which aims to revive urban areas across the state by promoting the visual arts and the work of local artists. This initiative was funded by the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Office of the Arts, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The City of New Britain, in partnership with the NBMAA and the LeWitt Estate, was thrilled to have the opportunity to create a public mural that will not only enliven the downtown area and an already thriving local arts community, but also pay homage to Sol LeWitt, a longtime resident of New Britain and lifelong patron of the NBMAA. (more…)

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Portrait of John James Audobon, 1826. John Syme. Oil on canvas. 35 1/2 x 27 1/2 in (90.2 x 69.8 cm). White House, Washington DC.

Since the early days of America’s founding, the close association between hunting and virility has remained unchanged. During the Victorian Era, outdoor, recreational sports  became increasingly popular among urban males. The hunt, formerly a recreational privilege of the rich and powerful in Europe, was democratized in America in the 1850s when private and public land became accessible to all. Hunters were free to exploit the wilderness and its wildlife with unfettered zeal, leading to a great reduction in the wildfowl population and the extinction of several species. Professional bird hunting became an accepted annual right for urban business men.  Mimicking the migrations of thousands of birds flocking along the east coast, men from the city would take fall and spring vacations to camp in the salt marshes and shoot all forms of wild fowl.  While hunting was purely recreation for some, others practiced the sport professionally.  Market gunners arose in great numbers during the 1850’s, responding to an urban demand for the inexpensive, abundant and undeniably tasty birds.


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Norbert Brunner (b.1969), an artist whose name may be familiar to visitors of the New Britain Museum of American Art, is one of many contemporary artists participating  in the 54th Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale was started in 1895 and was originally based around the decorative arts of Italy. Its focus gradually expanded, and after World War I it began to spotlight contemporary artists from all over the world. Several art movements including Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art had their debut at the Biennale.

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

This year, the main exhibition running from June 4, 2011, to November 27, 2011, is called ILLUMInations. Curator Bice Curiger explains the concept of the show: “The title of the 54th International Art Exhibition, ILLUMInations, literally draws attention to the importance of such endeavours in a globalized world. As the biggest and oldest Biennale, la Biennale di Venezia has always been buoyed by an international spirit, and even more so now in an age in which artists themselves have become multifaceted, discerning migrants and cultural tourists.”


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How much does the physical setting in which works of art are presented matter? Works put in contest of their original physical setting (such as churches and homes) can change the perception of the objects, as context endows certain values.

In the same way that a temple can plays a key role in the interpretation of the art within, the museum organizes the visitor’s experience, and the guest engages in an activity much like a ritual. The objects in the museum become its voice and face, and the decorative elements form a logical whole as an iconographic program that clarifies purpose. Although the museum is a ceremonial monument, the conventional art historian may ignore the meaning the work acquires in the museum, insisting on the viewer’s own experience of the art shaped by the artist’s intention. (more…)

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The Arts of America Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Arts of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The new Arts of Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, opened on November 20, 2010. The Wing was planned to bring together a more inclusive vision of “American” Art and its 53 galleries that house over 5,000 works. After a recent visit, it is safe to say that the new galleries do a remarkable job of presenting a cohesive display of the MFA’s vast and impressive collection. The Wing is divided into four floors,  arranged chronologically, each consisting of differing aesthetic interiors that compliment the works on display. (more…)

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