Renowned Collection of Hudson River School Paintings on Loan from New-York Historical SocietyMay 1, 2012 in Featured, Press Releases, Tourism
BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Painters of the so-called Hudson River School in the mid-19th century became known for their romantic work celebrating the American landscape. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will present a special exhibition of 45 masterworks by Hudson River School artists on loan from the New-York Historical Society, opening May 5 and on view through September 3, 2012.
The exhibit, titled The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, will be presented in the galleries currently occupied by Wonder World, an exhibition featuring contemporary works from the museum's permanent collection, which will close April 2. Admission to the exhibition will be free to Crystal Bridges members, and $5 per person for non-members. There will be no charge for guests under age 18.
"We are delighted with this unique opportunity to present such a distinguished and important collection for our Members and guests," said Don Bacigalupi, Crystal Bridges executive director. "The Hudson River School celebrates the landscapes around them in these spectacular works, creating a milestone American movement that we also sought to highlight in the Museum's own permanent collection. This exhibition is the perfect complement."
The New-York Historical Society organized the exhibition with works selected from their rich collections of 19th-century American landscape painting. The exhibition was designed to travel while the society's galleries were closed during renovations, offering an unprecedented opportunity to share works that have rarely traveled. The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision includes Thomas Cole's legendary five-part series: The Course of Empire and other masterworks by Cole, John F. Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Jasper F. Cropsey, Asher B. Durand and many others. This exhibition at Crystal Bridges will be the last time these works are on display outside of the New-York Historical Society. The New-York Historical Society reopened, coincidentally, on the same date Crystal Bridges opened: 11-11-11.
Linda Ferber, New-York Historical Society senior art historian and curator of the exhibition, and Kevin Murphy, curator of American art at Crystal Bridges, will participate in special programs including a private preview and a lecture for Crystal Bridges members.
"The New-York Historical Society houses one of the oldest and most comprehensive collections of landscape paintings by artists of the Hudson River School. We welcome this unique opportunity to share these treasures with a national audience," Ferber said.
Schedule of Events:
Thursday, May 3, 2012 – Private preview for Crystal Bridges Guild and Circle Members
Friday, May 4, 2012 – Private preview and lectures by Kevin Murphy and Linda Ferber for Members of Crystal Bridges
Saturday, May 5, 2012 – 11 a.m. public opening, tickets required for non-members.
September 3, 2012 – Last day to view exhibition.
Starting in April, tickets may be reserved or purchased at crystalbridges.org or by contacting 479-418-5700. Tickets are $5 for non-members over the age of 18.
The Hudson River School emerged during the second quarter of the 19th century in New York City. There, a loosely knit group of artists and writers forged the first self-consciously American landscape vision and literary voice. That American vision—still widely influential today—was grounded in a view of the natural world as a source of spiritual renewal and an expression of national identity. This vision was first expressed through the magnificent scenery of the Hudson River Valley region, including the Catskills, which was accessible to writers, artists and sightseers via traffic on the great river that gave the school its name.
The exhibition shows how American artists embodied powerful ideas about nature, culture and history—including the belief that a special providence was manifest to Americans in the continent's sublime landscape.
Artists painted the Catskill, Adirondack and White Mountain regions, which became celebrated for their scenic beauty and historic sites, as well as views of Lake George, Niagara Falls and the New England countryside. These destinations that most powerfully attracted both artists and travelers, who created an "American Grand Tour" to rival travel to Europe. Artists also memorialized the Hudson River itself as the gateway to the touring destinations and primary sketching grounds for American landscape painters.
Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill and Martin Johnson Heade sought inspiration further from home. These globe-trotting painters embraced the role of artist-explorer and thrilled audiences exotic and grand with images of the landscape wonders of such far-flung places as the American frontier, Yosemite Valley and South America.
Europe, (and particularly Italy) remained a destination for artists such as Cole, Cropsey, Sanford R. Gifford, who celebrated Italy as the center of the Old World. Viewed as the storehouse of Western culture, Italy was a living laboratory of the past, with its cities, galleries, and countryside offering a survey of the artistic heritage from antiquity, as well as a striking contrast to the wilderness vistas of North America portrayed by these same artists.
All of these ideas converge in Thomas Cole's five-painting series The Course of Empire (c. 1834-36), imagining the rise of a great civilization from an unspoiled landscape, and the ultimate decay of that civilization into ruins scattered in the same wilderness. These celebrated paintings explore the tension between Americans' deep veneration of the wilderness and their equally ardent celebration of progress, recapitulating the larger story told in Nature and the American Vision.
Catalogue to Accompany the Exhibition
The ideas and beliefs explored in the exhibition are also investigated in an award-winning 224-page catalogue by Linda S. Ferber: The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, published by Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc. and available for sale in the Museum Store. Featuring 150 full-color illustrations of works from the acclaimed collection of the New-York Historical Society, the catalogue places the splendid paintings in the traveling exhibition into a broad historical and cultural context. Ferber received the 2010 Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogues of Distinction in the Arts from the New York State Historical Association for the volume.
About the Hudson River School Collection of the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society's rich holdings of American art date back to the second half of the 19th century, when the museum acquired, through generous donation, the extensive painting collections formed by pioneering New York art patron Luman Reed (1787-1836). By 1944, the New-York Historical Society was also home to the extraordinary collection of Hudson River School art amassed by Robert Leighton Stuart (1806-1882), another of New York's prominent 19th-century art patrons. Works once belonging to these pioneering American collectors form the core of the traveling exhibition.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America's pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, the Society has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
The Society is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Lincoln and New York; and The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world's greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American and European art, and material culture documenting the history of the United States and New York.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. A Tru Vue Optium® Conservation Grant from The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works has supported glazing of the works in the exhibition.
For information about becoming an Original Member of Crystal Bridges, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.
Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by Alice Walton, who chairs the Museum's board of directors.