Exhibition | America: Painting a Nation

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 27, 2013

The exhibition, organized by several American institutions including the Terra Foundation for American Art, debuted as Art Across America at the National Museum of Korea, in Seoul, and then traveled to Korea’s Daejeon Museum of Art. From the press materials of the Art Gallery of New South Wales:

America: Painting a Nation
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 8 November 2013 — 9 February 2014

Portrait of a Black Sailor (Paul Cuffe?), circa 1800, 25 × 20 inches (LACMA)

Portrait of a Black Sailor (Paul Cuffe?), ca. 1800 (LACMA)

This exhibition is a voyage through American history, across the American landscape and into the minds of the American people. It begins in the 18th century, among pious farmers and republican merchants. It traverses the continent, alongside Native Americans and frontiersman. It explores the great cities, and the lives of workers and bohemian artists. Answering the question, ‘What makes Americans American?’ is complex, but these paintings are a guide, revealing the self-reliance and communal beliefs, optimism and anxieties, that makes America tick.
Chris McAuliffe, Curatorial consultant

America: Painting a Nation is the most expansive survey of American painting ever presented in Australia. It is part of the Sydney International Art Series which brings the world’s outstanding exhibitions to Australia, exclusive to Sydney, and has been made possible with the support of the NSW Government through Destination NSW. Over 80 works, ranging from 1750 to 1966, cover more than 200 years of American art, history and experience. The exhibition sets a course from New England to the Western frontier, from the Grand Canyon to the burlesque theatres of New York, from the aristocratic elegance of colonial society to the gritty realism of the modern metropolis. This exhibition will reveal the breadth of American history, the hardy morality of the frontier, the intimacy of family life, the intensity of the 20th-century city, the epic scale of its landscape and the diversity of its people. The works being presented – many by American masters – are the works Americans love and works that represent the stories they have grown up with.

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From the Art Gallery of NSW:

Angela Miller and Chris McAuliffe, America: Painting a Nation (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2013), 264 pages, ISBN 978-1741741018, $45.

Spectacular landscapes, epic stories and diverse peoples feature in this expansive historical survey of American painting. The 89 artworks by some 74 artists traverse over 200 years of rich history, from the colonial era to the mid 20th century. Readers will encounter the sublime poetry and drama of the land, the ambition and optimism of the country’s pioneers, the challenges of the frontier, the intimacy of family life and the intensity of the modern city. The roots of the American character and nation will be revealed through images ranging from the Grand Canyon to the Brooklyn Bridge, from classic portraits to modern abstraction.

America: Painting a Nation includes works by artists such as Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler from the collections of some of the finest art museums in the USA: The Terra Foundation, Chicago; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Essays by Angela Miller and Chris McAuliffe, combined with entries on each of the artworks and biographies on each artist, illuminate this fascinating survey of American painting from 1750 to 1967.

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