John Singleton Copley
Charles Willson Peale
William Sidney Mount
George Caleb Bingham
John Singer Sargent
William Merritt Chase
Alice Pratt Brown
Carrie Rebora Barratt
American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915 brings together more than 100 of these iconic pictures that tell compelling stories of life's tasks and pleasures. The exhibition includes loans from leading museums and private lenders, and many paintings from the Metropolitan's own distinguished collection. Several large ink drawings by Pablo Bronstein suggests a mythical history of the Metropolitan Museum, imagining the building under construction. A series of computer drawings focuses on hypothetical futures of the Museum. Through drawings, installations, performances, and books, Pablo Bronstein has investigated a variety of historical periods and tastes. The Worlds of Luo Ping brings together nearly 60 works, including many Chinese 'National Treasures', by one of the most celebrated painters in 18th-century China.
Metropolitan Museum Exhibition Features 100 Iconic American Paintings That Tell Stories of Everyday Life
From the decade before the Revolution to the eve of World War I, many of America's most acclaimed painters captured in their finest works the temperament of their respective eras. They recorded and defined the emerging character of Americans as individuals, citizens, and members of ever-widening communities. Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art this fall, American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915 will bring together for the first time more than 100 of these iconic pictures that tell compelling stories of life's tasks and pleasures. The first overview of the subject in more than 35 years, the exhibition includes loans from leading museums and private lenders—and many paintings from the Metropolitan's own distinguished collection. American Stories features masterpieces by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, John Sloan, and George Bellows, and notable works by some of their key colleagues.
The exhibition is made possible by Alamo Rent A Car, The Marguerite and Frank A. Cosgrove Jr. Fund, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Oceanic Heritage Foundation.
It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The exhibition examines stories based on familiar experience and the means by which painters told their stories through their choices of settings, players, action, and various narrative devices. The artists' responses to foreign prototypes, travel and training, changing exhibition venues, and audience expectations are examined, as are their evolving styles and standards of storytelling in relation to the themes of childhood, marriage, the family, and the community; the production and reinforcement of citizenship; attitudes towards race; the frontier as reality and myth; and the process and meaning of art making.
The exhibition is arranged in four chronological sections. The first—Inventing American Stories, 1765–1830—begins with artists who told stories through portraits. Serving their sitters' self-conscious interest in how they appeared in the eyes of others, American portraitists often emulated British compositions. Although these artists focused on individuals and particular locales and relationships, the cleverest of them responded to broader narrative agendas and to the natural impulse to tell stories. In his portrait of his colleague Paul Revere (1768, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), John Singleton Copley embedded subtle narrative into a traditional single-figure format, with the silversmith's gestures and gaze conveying volumes about the time in which he lived. As their patrons learned to read portraits for more than likeness and to appreciate artistic license, portraitists began to gratify their sitters by telling subtle personal stories in increasingly elaborate compositions. In his ingenious double-likeness of Benjamin and Eleanor Ridgely Laming (1788, National Gallery of Art, Washington), for instance, Charles Willson Peale implied the sexual bond that defined the Lamings' marriage. Later in this period, some painters told grand stories in pictures produced for public exhibition, rather than purely for private enjoyment. In Gallery of the Louvre (1831–33, Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago), Samuel F. B. Morse proposed that his compatriots must achieve cultural independence from Europe even while they learned from the Old World's greatest artistic achievements.
In the second section of the exhibition—Stories for the Public, 1830–1860—American artists responded to an expanding and increasingly diverse audience for public exhibitions; new mechanisms for selling and reproducing art; and middle-class patrons' growing cultural literacy and wealth. They almost invariably looked to precedents in European genre painting to help them tell their stories, drawing inspiration from Old Master Dutch or more recent French and English examples, known through popular prints. Genre painters preferred domestic scenes, lighthearted narratives, clear settings, stereotyped characters, and obvious gestures and details so that viewers could read their pictorial dramas easily and recognize themselves in relation to them. Many American genre painters favored rural locales, which were associated with fundamental national values. In The City and Country Beaux(ca. 1838–40, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown), Francis William Edmonds suggested the virtues and vices of each locale as a young woman chooses between a slick Yankee and a self-satisfied country bumpkin. Painters in this era gently confronted the deepening rifts between the races, immigrants and native workers, and geographical divisions between north and south, east and west. For example, William Sidney Mount commented on race in a rural context in The Power of Music (1847, Cleveland Museum of Art), which shows a black man set apart from white listeners and yet enjoying the sound of the fiddle played by a young white man. In a similarly euphemistic vein, Missouri-born George Caleb Bingham tamed for eastern viewers the perceived perils of foreign types and the frontier in Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845, The Metropolitan Museum of Art).
The third section of the exhibition is Stories of War and Reconciliation, 1860–1877. Fought mainly by non-professional soldiers, the Civil War was essentially democratic, as Winslow Homer implied in his paintings of daily life at the front, including Pitching Quoits (1865, Harvard University Art Museums). To assuage the sorrow provoked by the war and to heal the nation's fractured spirit, painters in this period turned away from political content toward domestic and leisure-time subjects. As women gained prominence after the loss of so many men in the war, artists portrayed them in new roles. Homer's Croquet Scene (1866, The Art Institute of Chicago), for example, shows women competing with men on a literally level playing field and celebrates the nation's return to peaceful pursuits. Expressing nostalgia for pre-war innocence, many artists portrayed children, including Seymour Joseph Guy, whose Making a Train (1867, Philadelphia Museum of Art) epitomizes the impulse. And, as the agrarian basis of American life gave way to urbanization and industrialization, artists who were themselves working in thriving cities manifested the longing for earlier, simpler times in their nostalgic depictions of rural activities. In The New Bonnet (1876, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), painted in the year of the Centennial, Eastman Johnson evokes a quiet moment as two women scrutinize a hat while their father warms his hands by the fire in an old-fashioned Nantucket interior.
By the mid-1870s, the nation's visual culture burgeoned and the taste of American viewers and patrons matured in response to expanded opportunities for travel; access to more and better graphic reproductions of paintings; and exposure to art in newly founded museums. American painters yielded to an unprecedented internationalism, embracing new stories and new means by which to tell them. In Cosmopolitan and Candid Stories, 1877–1915, the exhibition's fourth and final section, American artists redefined national identity in an international context. They were as likely to paint people in Paris or the French countryside as in New York or New England. They revealed in their works an appreciation of the journalistic, fragmented narrative that inflected foreign examples, and they evaded even more than their predecessors the harsh realities of modern existence. American painters also operated in a newly complex art world, which broadened their opportunities for displaying and marketing art on both sides of the Atlantic and altered their professional standards. Paris resident Mary Cassatt told of the daily routine of sophisticated urban women and indicated her own appreciation of female empowerment in Woman and a Girl Driving (1881, Philadelphia Museum of Art). John Singer Sargent, also an expatriate, frankly recorded an encounter with ordinary Venetians in A Street in Venice(ca. 1880–82) and a visit to a well-to-do American family in An Interior in Venice (1899, Royal Academy of Arts, London). William Merritt Chase escaped from the city to a tranquil suburban retreat in Idle Hours (ca. 1894, Amon Carter Museum), depicting fashionable figures relaxing on a placid greensward along a beach in Southampton, Long Island, and in Ring Toss (1896, Marie and Hugh Halff) showed three of his daughters at play in his nearby summer studio. Some painters examined men at work and leisure and celebrated new heroes such as cowboys, who became emblems of American masculinity and the receding frontier. Thomas Anshutz's Ironworkers' Noontime (1880, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), Thomas Eakins's Swimming (1885, Amon Carter Museum), and Frederic Remington's Fight for the Water Hole (1903, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) are key examples. The Ashcan artists, who challenged American Impressionist decorum after 1900, were committed to recording the modern world frankly and to grappling with gritty urban realities. Yet, John Sloan typically retained the Impressionists' cheerful outlook in The Picnic Grounds (1906–7, Whitney Museum of American Art), even though he depicted indecorous working-class girls in a park in Bayonne, New Jersey. Sloan's Ashcan associates invited viewers to experience other distinctive, even sordid urban venues. In Club Night (1907, National Gallery of Art, Washington), George Bellows provided ringside seats at a brutal boxing match, which women, who could have seen the painting, could not actually have attended.
Catalogue and Related Programs
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. It was edited by H. Barbara Weinberg (Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture) and Carrie Rebora Barratt (Associate Director for Collections and Administration), both of the Metropolitan Museum. It includes essays by Weinberg and Barratt, as well as by Bruce Robertson (Professor of Art History, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Consulting Curator, Department of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and Margaret C. Conrads (Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City). Published by the Metropolitan Museum and distributed by Yale University Press, the book is suitable for non-specialists as well as scholars, and will be available in the Museum's bookshops ($60 hardcover, $40 paperback).
The catalogue is made possible by The William Cullen Bryant Fellows of the American Wing.
A variety of educational programs will complement the exhibition. Highlights include subscription lectures in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium by Carrie Rebora Barratt and H. Barbara Weinberg at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 22 and 29, respectively. Gallery talks, family programs, and a teacher workshop will also be offered.
Education programs are made possible by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.
An audio tour, part of the Metropolitan's Audio Guide program, will be available. The fee for rentals is $7, $6 for members, $5 for children under 12.
The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.
An expanded feature about the exhibition will be available on the website of the Metropolitan Museum (www.metmuseum.org/special/americanstories). It will include images of all the works on view accompanied by extended descriptive information, as well as a blog with weekly posts. A series of podcast episodes--with commentary by specialists from a variety of disciplines--will be posted over the course of the exhibition.
The exhibition is organized by H. Barbara Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, and Carrie Rebora Barratt, Associate Director for Collections and Administration, both of the Metropolitan Museum, in association with Bruce Robertson, Professor of Art History, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Consulting Curator, Department of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Margaret C. Conrads, Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, also contributed to the planning of the exhibition. Exhibition design is by Michael Batista, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Constance Norkin, Senior Graphic Designer; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Metropolitan Museum's Design Department.
After its presentation at the Metropolitan Museum, the exhibition will be shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (February 28–May 23, 2010).
Special Exhibition Galleries, second floor
Exhibition dates: October 12, 2009–January 24, 2010
Pablo Bronstein at the Met
Mythical Architectural Drawings by Contemporary Artist Pablo Bronstein Featured in Fall Exhibition at Metropolitan Museum.
Pablo Bronstein at the Met is a presentation of new work by the London-based artist, addressing the history and future of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and will be shown at the Museum from October 6, 2009, through February 21, 2010. Several large ink drawings by the artist will suggest a mythical history of the Metropolitan Museum, imagining the building under construction. A series of computer drawings will focus on hypothetical futures of the Museum. This will be the artist's first solo exhibition in New York.
Through drawings, installations, performances, and books, Pablo Bronstein has investigated a variety of historical periods and tastes. His palette encompasses a myriad of styles: from the mannered baroque of Turin to the classical architecture of 18th-century France, from early 20th-century Modernism to Postmodernism in its various manifestations. Adopting the guise of the architect, architectural historian, and the user of buildings, Bronstein reveals what might be described as the veneer of architecture. In doing so he highlights the complicit power structures that are required to accomplish great works, in turn inviting viewers to consider the mechanisms that delineate private and public space.
Pablo Bronstein was born in Argentina in 1977 and now lives and works in London. His work has been included in the Tate Triennale, London, 2006; Performa 07, New York; and Characters, Figures and Signs, Tate Modern, London, 2009. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Galleria Franco Noero, Turin; Herald St, London; and Lenbachhaus, Munich, 2007. Upcoming projects include Manifesta 8 in Murcia, Spain, and the Sculpture Court Commission, Tate Britain, London, both in 2010. Bronstein has an M.A. in Visual Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a B.A. from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. He is represented by Herald St, London, and Galleria Franco Noero, Turin. Among the books of his work that have been published are: Description of Casa Scaccabarozzi, 2008 (Galleria Franco Noero, 2008); Ornamental Designs (Walther Konig, 2008); and Postmodern Architecture in London (Walther Konig, 2007).
Pablo Bronstein at the Met is organized by Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Chairman of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art. It is the sixth in the Metropolitan's series of solo exhibitions of young artists, which has featured Tony Oursler (2005), Kara Walker (2006), Neo Rauch (2007), Tara Donovan (2008), and Raqib Shaw (2008–2009).
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will offer An Evening with Pablo Bronstein on Friday, October 2, at 6:30 p.m. A talk by the artist about his work will be followed by a private cocktail hour for the guests and an opportunity to meet the artist. The program is presented by Spectrum, a newly formed group at the Metropolitan Museum providing engaging programming and fresh perspectives on the Museum's collections and exhibitions. An Evening with Pablo Bronstein is the first of Spectrum's social events, which are designed to appeal to audiences ages 21 to 39. Tickets are $20 and include Museum admission. For inquiries and tickets email: email@example.com. This event is for guests 21 and older. Beer is generously donated by Harpoon Brewery.
Exhibition Location: Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, The Gioconda and Joseph King Gallery
Exhibition Dates: October 6, 2009–February 21, 2010
Eccentric Visions: The Worlds of Luo Ping (1733-1799)
First Comprehensive Exhibition Featuring China's 18th-Century Master Painter Luo Ping Goes on View at Metropolitan Museum October 6.
The first comprehensive exhibition of Luo Ping's paintings ever presented in America, Eccentric Visions: The Worlds of Luo Ping (1733-1799) will bring together nearly 60 works, including many Chinese "National Treasures," by one of the most celebrated painters in 18th-century China. Complemented by 27 pieces from American collections, this momentous international-loan exhibition will reveal the range and brilliance of the artist's vision as well as his place among his peers. Highlights of the exhibition will include the sensational handscroll Ghost Amusements (ca. 1766)—one of the best known paintings in the late imperial China—depicting the world of ghosts that, he claimed, he had seen with his own eyes. The youngest of the so-called "Eight Eccentrics," a group of highly individualistic artists active in the prosperous metropolis of Yanzhou, Luo Ping was an extraordinary artist, whose works influenced the course of later Chinese painting.
The exhibition is made possible by Credit Suisse.
Additional support is provided by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation.
The exhibition was organized by the Museum Rietberg Zürich.
"Luo Ping was very much a man of his times," said Maxwell K. Hearn, Curator of the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum, "And, being labeled an eccentric suggests that he exhibited the kind of individuality that we associate with western artists today. Luo faced issues of artistic integrity and patronage not so different from what contemporary artists must grapple with. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to get to know a Chinese artist in all his complexity," he continued.
Extremely versatile—his oeuvre includes portraits, figure paintings, landscapes, and floral studies—Luo Ping embodies the vibrant diversity, complexity, and fin de siècle brilliance of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) as it reached and passed its zenith. Featuring 27 works (94 images) by Luo Ping, the exhibition will trace his career from Yangzhou, China's leading commercial center, to Beijing, its political heart. The exhibition will also integrate a selection of eight works (45 images) by Jin Nong (1687-1763), Luo's teacher and an elder member of the "Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou", and four works by Luo's wife, son, and daughter, in order to show a more unified view of the great master's legacy. The exhibition will conclude with a group of 17 works by other Yangzhou Eccentrics that elucidate the broader cultural context for Luo Ping's career.
Works on View
The exhibition opens with examples of Luo Ping's early work including his arresting and highly unconventional Portrait of Jin Nong (ca. 1760), capturing his beloved mentor as a Buddhist saint poring over a Sanskrit scripture. The unflattering characterization, verging on caricature, pointedly evokes grotesque 10th-century depictions of Luohans (disciples of the Buddha) that Jin Nong admired.
An adjacent gallery will present two albums by Jin Nong that served as poetic and pictorial models for the young Luo, who is said to have occasionally acted as a ghost painter for the older artist, who was much better known as a calligrapher.
A key monument in Luo Ping's efforts to establish his own artistic identity after his mentor's death was his Ghost Amusement. Painted in the later 1760s, Luo carried this long handscroll with him for his entire career collecting commentaries by all of the leading intellectuals of his time. Luo claimed to be able to see ghosts and he developed a unique way of capturing their likenesses by first dampening the paper before he began to draw, thus creating images defined by blurred lines that are eerily evocative of an ephemeral vision that he created.
Like Jin Nong, Luo was a devout Buddhist and a number of his paintings reflect this. One outstanding work is his iconic image of the Chan (Zen in Japanese) Buddhist masters Hanshan and Shide, whose unconventional behavior was seen as a manifestation of their lofty unworldliness. Luo's hanging scroll, dating from the 1770s, depicts the 8th-century hermit-poet Hanshan ("Cold Mountain") and the scullery boy Shide in a spontaneous ink wash manner evocative of the Chan practitioner's goal of "sudden enlightenment," Luo Ping's public success was accompanied by a particularly harmonious family life. At the age of 19, he married the poet and painter Fang Wanyi (1732–1779). Together with their children, the artist couple specialized in depictions of plum blossoms, a richly symbolic motif suggestive of renewal and moral purity. The exhibition will include some of the best examples of this subject, which was also a favorite of Jin Nong's.
Maxwell K. Hearn, Curator of the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum, has observed: "The image of Luo Ping as revealed through these remarkable paintings is touchingly human. The artworks assembled here capture Luo's complex network of relationships: with his mentor and perhaps surrogate father figure Jin Nong (Luo was orphaned at an early age); with the circle of artists and scholarly patrons who shaped the intellectual discourse and artistic tastes of the time; and with his wife and children with whom he collaborated in the creation of a familial artistic identity."
About Luo Ping
Born in the city of Yangzhou in 1733, Luo Ping's literary and artistic talents attracted the interest of Jin Nong (1687–1763), an elder member of the "Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou" and one of the leading figures in Yangzhou's bohemian culture. Jin accepted the 23-year-old Luo as his student, and the two men maintained an unusually close friendship until Jin's death seven years later.
In the latter part of his life, Luo Ping worked mostly in Beijing. Unlike the commercial center of Yangzhou, the Manchu empire's capital was culturally conservative and classical literary studies and evocations of past styles were the chief concerns of scholars and government officials. This intellectual environment had a powerful influence on Luo Ping, and his later paintings increasingly referred to historical styles and themes.
A range of educational programming will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition, including gallery talks and a "Sunday at the Met" lecture program on October 18.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 300-page fully-illustrated catalogue featuring eight essays and detailed individual entries by some of the leading scholars in the field. The exhibition in New York will be organized by Maxwell K. Hearn and Shi-yee Liu, Research Associate in the Department of Asian Art, the Metropolitan Museum.
Exhibition dates: October 6, 2009-January 10, 2010
Location: Galleries for Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy
Image: Pablo Bronstein, Monument In The Style Of Michael Graves On The Debris Of The Bastille, 2006, Ink & gouache on paper in artist's frame
22 x 31 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Press preview: Monday, October 5, 10 a.m. - noon
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