The turn of the 20th century was an explosive time for American culture - city populations increased exponentially, an infusion of a larger ethnic presence was infused with that growth, and the American people, both immigrants and residents, sought to define themselves in the volatile early decades of the century. Artists were compelled by these changes to document the beauty of everyday life, and chose to capture images not of the contrived, but of the experience of the average individual. This exhibition features works by several notable artists from this period, and chronicles how their lean towards urban realism influenced artists and their work throughout the rest of the century.
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This exhibition features work from American artist Theresa Bernstein (1890-2002), one of the few—if not the only—artist to display work in every decade of the twentieth century. Bernstein found great success early in her career as an art student, but struggled with fluctuations in popularity as various art movements came and went. This resulted in her work falling into obscurity for most historians and art critics. Despite this past neglect, recently Bernstein has begun to receive recognition and her work is being touted as noteworthy, even in comparison to her contemporaries such as Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, and John Sloan. Through her realist technique, Bernstein has captured some of the most iconic American themes from the twentieth century, such as women’s suffrage, World War I, the struggles of immigrants, jazz, and even Hassidic life. Bernstein’s work is therefore not only skilled and aesthetic, but is also another perspective on our history as Americans.
The Hudson River School emerged during the second quarter of the 19th century in New York City, the booming port and commercial metropolis at the mouth of the Hudson River. There, a loosely knit group of artists, together with like-minded poets and writers, forged the first self-consciously “American” landscape vision and literary voice. The Hudson River to Niagara Falls showcases 24 important paintings, executed between 1818 and 1890, drawn from the venerable collection of the New-York Historical Society, the oldest museum in New York. These works depict landscapes, historic sites, natural wonders, and waterways of New York State.
In the Dana Gallery, The Lay of the Land: Visions of America 1860-2013 explores how artists have interpreted landscapes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This exhibition features paintings, drawings, and photographs from the permanent collection, including works by Lloyd Mifflin, Thomas Moran and Warren Rohrer. Guest curated by Judith Stapleton ‘12.