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Posts Tagged ‘NBMAA’

This post comes to us from Lacy Gillette, former curatorial intern and current visitor services assistant supervisor.

Searching the Horizon: The Real American West 1830-1920 (Art from the Bank of America Collection) is on view in the McKernan Gallery until March 4, 2012 and has already drawn large crowds to the exhibition devoted to the American West, its landscape and its people. Divided into four thematic sections –  Settlement, Landscape, Native Americans, and Urbanization and Industry – the exhibition features over 100 artworks and objects to offer the viewer a range of interpretations of the American West. While the exhibition provides a rich historical account of the changing face of the American West, it is also elucidates the fact that painters’ and photographers’ portrayals of Western culture were often romanticized depictions of “a long-lost era” that influenced and reinforced “Eastern” perception of the people of the 19th and 20th century American West.

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Blue Boar, 2009. Victoria Bradbury (b.1981). Video still.

The phenomenon of “global art” emerged after a revision of the world’s relations. With the expansion of communication and technology, a new inter-connectivity was created throughout most of the globe. New media forms and aesthetic relations were born as a response to and embodiment of  the cross-cultural interchanges and easy transmutations of national borders.

Currently, many artists are using their practice to probe the new relations of power in a global world by creating works that set in place certain social relations. In each piece, the participating spectator and the artist reenact every-day social relationships that model aspects of global interactions as a whole.  In an attempt to describe this current in art, internationally-renowned curator Nicholas Bourriaud introduced the theory of relational aesthetics in his work Esthétique Relationelle (1998). His main claim is that the social interactions created between the viewing audience and a work of art hold the true meaning of art. Through “little gestures,” Bourriaud suggests, the “relational fabric” of society may be “re-stitched”(1).

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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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The Bird Cage, 1910. Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939). Oil on canvas, 32 x 32 in. New Britain Museum of American Art.

Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939) was an American Impressionist Painter who was part of the Giverny group, but until recently was not very well-known. Frieseke was born in Owosso, Michigan, in 1874 and, from a young age, he was interested in many forms of art. He first began studying art at the Art Institute of Chicago, but he also studied in New York and in France. While Frieseke studied only briefly under James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), he was perhaps more influenced by Whistler than any of his previous instructors. He was most inspired by Whistler’s use of gradation of color. Other influences on his work included the flat and decorative features of the Art Nouveau style. Frieseke himself also stated that “no artist in [the Impressionist] school has influenced me except, perhaps, Renoir.” (more…)

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