Art News: The ACT UP Portraits: Activists & Avatars, 1991-1994

STEPHEN BARKER, “The ACT UP Portraits: Activists & Avatars, 1991-1994”

Exhibition dates: September 14 – October 28, 2017

Daniel Cooney Fine Art (508-526 West 26th Street, Suite 9C, New York, NY 10001, 212 255 8158. dan@danielcooneyfineart.com. Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 11 – 6) is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of photographs, “The ACT UP Portraits: Activists & Avatars, 1991-1994“, by renowned photographer Stephen Barker. The exhibit will showcase approximately 15 never before seen black and white photographic portraits of AIDS activists – in the studio and at home – taken by Barker during his time working within the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) 1991-1994, and Barker’s unique artist’s book Funeral March, which chronicles the carrying of Mark Fisher’s body in an open coffin from Judson Church, up Sixth Avenue, to the steps of the Republican National Committee on the eve of the presidential election in 1992.

Rod Sorge (1969-1999) ACT UP Needle Exchange, 1991

Rod Sorge (1969-1999) ACT UP Needle Exchange, 1991

Barker became involved with ACT UP in the late 80s working primarily with the needle exchange program. The photographs were never intended as an encyclopedic project, but rather the portraits evolved organically out of Barker’s working relationships, friendships, and intimacies. The exhibition is especially timely during this 30th anniversary year of ACT UP when once again all underserved communities, including those living with HIV/AIDS, are threatened by our own government. It is a call to arms for activism and a reminder of the distance we have traveled and battles we have won.

Stephen Barker, 'Gay Wachman, ACT UP Needle Exchange,' 1992, Gelatin Silver Print

Stephen Barker, ‘Gay Wachman, ACT UP Needle Exchange,’ 1992, Gelatin Silver Print

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Rodin at The Met

Exhibition Dates: September 16, 2017–January 15, 2018

Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery (Gallery 800) and Gallery 809

On the centenary of the death of Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), The Metropolitan Museum of Art will celebrate its historic collection of the artist’s work in Rodin at The Met, opening September 16, 2017. (The exhibition is made possible by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.)

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Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840-1917 Meudon), Orpheus and Eurydice, modeled probably before 1887, carved 1893, marble. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910

Nearly 50 marbles, bronzes, plasters, and terracottas by Rodin, representing more than a century of acquisitions and gifts to the Museum, will be displayed in the newly installed and refurbished B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery (Gallery 800). The exhibition will feature iconic sculptures such as The Thinker and The Hand of God, as well as masterpieces such as The Tempest that have not been on view in decades. Paintings from The Met’s collection by some of Rodin’s most admired contemporaries, including his friends Claude Monet (1840–1926) and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898), will be presented in dialogue with the sculptures on display.

The extraordinary range of The Met’s holdings of Rodin’s work will be highlighted in an adjacent gallery (Gallery 809) with a selection of drawings, prints, letters, and illustrated books, as well as photographs of the master sculptor and his art. This focused presentation will introduce visitors to the evolution of Rodin’s draftsmanship and demonstrate the essential role of drawing in his practice. It will also address Rodin’s engagement with photographers, especially Edward Steichen (1879-1973), who served as a key intermediary in bringing Rodin’s drawings to New York.

Rodin at The Met begins a new chapter in the Museum’s long-standing engagement with Rodin. In 1912, The Met opened a gallery dedicated to Rodin’s sculptures and drawings—the first at the Museum devoted exclusively to the work of a living artist. Displayed in that gallery were almost 30 sculptures and, within a year, 14 drawings. During the late 20th century, the historic core of The Met’s Rodin collection was further enhanced by Iris and B. Gerald Cantor and their Foundation’s gifts of more than 30 sculptures, many of them from editions authorized by the artist and cast posthumously. Today, The Met’s holdings of Rodin’s art are among the largest and most distinguished in the United States. The exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to experience anew Rodin’s enduring artistic achievements.

Rodin at The Met is organized by Denise Allen, Curator in The Met’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts; Ashley Dunn, Assistant Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints; and Alison Hokanson and Asher Ethan Miller, both Assistant Curators in the Department of European Paintings.

Education programs will accompany the exhibition including a Sunday at The Met program “Rediscover Rodin” on October 15, a Picture This! Workshop on October 19, and a Met Signs Tour: Rodin at The Met with Emmanuel von Schack on Friday, November 3.

The display in Gallery 809 will close on January 15, 2018. The installation of paintings and sculptures in Gallery 800 will remain on permanent view with periodic rotations of selected works.

New-York Historical Society To Present Unprecedented Exhibition On The History Of The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War: 1945–1975, On View October 4, 2017 – April 22, 2018

One of the major turning points of the 20th century, the Vietnam War will be the subject of an unprecedented exhibition presented by the New-York Historical Society from October 4, 2017April 22, 2018. Bringing the hotly contested history of this struggle into the realm of public display as never before, the exhibition will offer a chronological and thematic narrative of the conflict from 1945 through 1975 as told through more than 300 artifacts, photographs, artworks, documents, and interactive digital media.

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American infantrymen crowd into a mud-filled bomb crater and look up at tall jungle trees seeking out Viet Cong snipers firing at them during a battle in Phuoc Vinh, north-northeast of Saigon in Vietnam’s War Zone D, June 15, 1967. Henri Huet / Associated Press

Objects on display will range from a Jeep used at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to a copy of the Pentagon Papers; from posters and bumper stickers both opposing and supporting the U.S. war effort to personal items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC; from indelible news photographs (such as Eddie Adams’ Execution) to specially commissioned murals by contemporary artist Matt Huynh. While no gallery exhibition can provide a comprehensive, global perspective on this vast subject, the materials brought together in The Vietnam War: 1945–1975 will comprise a sweeping and immersive narrative, exploring, from a primarily American viewpoint, how this pivotal struggle was experienced both on the war front and on the home front. The Vietnam War: 1945–1975 was curated by Marci Reaven, New-York Historical Society vice president for history exhibitions.

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Interior of the USNS General Nelson M. Walker. Courtesy of Art and Lee Beltrone, Vietnam Graffiti Project, Keswick, VA. American servicemen initially traveled to Vietnam aboard WWII-era troop ships like the General Nelson M. Walker. Nearly 5,000 Marines and G.I.s crowded the Walker on each three-week voyage from Oakland, California to Danang or Qui Nhon, South Vietnam.

The Vietnam War: 1945–1975 signals a new ambition for the New-York Historical Society, which is to include in our exhibition program histories that are not only difficult but also as yet unresolved,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president, and CEO of New-York Historical. “This monumental exhibit challenges received wisdom about the origins and consequences of the War, relying on sources only recently made available to scholars as well as first person accounts of those who fought. As the exhibition shows, the War continues to provoke debate and discussion today and to dominate much of our thinking about military conduct and policy. The Vietnam War was the longest armed conflict of the 20th century, and today—more than 40 years after it ended―it continues to influence both public policy and personal convictions. We are grateful for the opportunity to offer the public a chance to better understand events and protagonists of the 20th century that reverberate well into the 21st.

Exhibition Overview

The Vietnam War: 1945–1975 sets the scene for the coming conflict through a display in an introductory gallery, where texts and materials about the onset of the Cold War document how the U.S. and its allies began to maneuver against the Communist bloc in regional confrontations after World War II while avoiding head-on engagement between the nuclear powers. Objects on view include a series of oil paintings by Chesley Bonestell imagining the destruction of New York City by Soviet atomic bombs and a newsreel from 1950 making the case for U.S. military action in Korea.

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Men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade on a search and destroy patrol after receiving supplies, 1966. National Archives at College Park, MD. The primary mission of U.S. forces was to destroy the enemy and their logistical network. American ground troops operated throughout South Vietnam, supported by naval and air campaigns. They defended the DMZ, pursued units in the hills along the Central Coast, combed through Viet Cong base areas in the Iron Triangle, and ranged across the upper Mekong Delta as part of an Army-Navy mobile riverine force.

The exhibition then takes up the story of Vietnam by recalling the successful struggle of the Communist-nationalist coalition Viet Minh to force France to abandon its claim to Vietnam, then part of the French colony known as Indochina. Archival footage from a CBS News broadcast illustrates the “domino theory” put forward by the Eisenhower administration in support of its desire to halt the spread of Communism in Asia, a mindset which contributed to the partitioning of Vietnam into North and South. Among the objects representing the experiences of the North Vietnamese and southern insurgents are a 1962 painting by the Hanoi-based artist Tran Huu Chat and a bicycle of the sort used by North Vietnamese forces for transport of arms along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Also on view is a scale model of the USS Maddox, one of the destroyers involved in the Gulf of Tonkin encounter with North Vietnamese forces in August 1964, which gave the Johnson Administration grounds for seeking Congressional authorization to increase U.S. military operations without a declaration of war.

On July 28, 1965, President Johnson spoke to the nation on TV to explain that it was up to America to protect South Vietnam and fight communism in Asia and that to be driven from the field would imperil U.S. power, security, and credibility. He also announced a dramatic escalation in the military draft.

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Draft card. Courtesy of Joseph Corrigan, C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Dak To, Vietnam 1967–68. President Johnson’s order to send more troops to Vietnam affected all men between the ages of 18 and 26. Registration for military service was compulsory. The Selective Service called up only the men needed while excusing the rest through deferments. Twenty-seven million American men were of draft age during the war. Forty percent served in the military, and about 2.5 million went to Vietnam.

Objects on view, like an original draft card, and displays will address various responses to the draft, which affected all men between the ages of 18 and 26. Archival footage of Johnson’s address announcing the doubling of the draft will be shown. Artifacts, such as graffiti created by soldiers on their canvas berths, from the troopship General Walker, which ferried draftees during the three-week voyage to Vietnam, will demonstrate the personal side of soldiers as they headed toward war.

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Detail. Tran Huu Chat, Spring in Tay Nguyen, 1962 and 2016. Lacquer engraving. New-York Historical Society. Hanoi art student Tran Huu Chat received high marks in 1962 for his lacquer engraving that depicted Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh organizing among the people to depose the French colonialists. Fellow Vietnamese would have understood that the artist was using the heroism of the Viet Minh to symbolically refer to the National Liberation Front, organized in 1960 to oppose the Diem regime and its U.S. backers. The original artwork hangs in Hanoi’s Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts. The 84-year-old Tran Huu Chat made an exact reproduction for this exhibition.

With this escalation of U.S. military involvement, the exhibition moves into a section that examines the conduct of the war and its repercussions both in the field and among American civilians. Two large, illustrated murals by noted artist and illustrator Matt Huynh, titled War Front and Home Front, depict key aspects of the years 1966 and 1967. War Front depicts the four combat zones in South Vietnam to show differing types of combat and highlight significant moments and battlegrounds. Home Front illustrates activity in the United States, including the Spring Mobilization, the largest antiwar demonstration to that date in American history, in which hundreds of thousands marched through midtown Manhattan on April 15, 1967.

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71st Evacuation Hospital patch belonging to Barbara Chiminello (left) and 57th Medical Detachment patch belonging to Thomas Chiminello (right). Courtesy of Barbara, Philip, and Eugene Chiminello. Siblings Thomas and Barbara Chiminello served alongside one another in Vietnam—Tommy as a Medevac helicopter pilot and Barbara as a nurse. These are their unit patches. In October 1967, Barbara received devastating news. Tommy and his crew had all been killed while responding to an urgent evacuation request.

The mural also shows a pro-war demonstration from May 1967 and other scenes of the war’s impact on national life. Interactive kiosks placed next to both murals bring them to life, allowing visitors to explore the events depicted through videos and photographs. Notable objects displayed in this section include a poster of a woman fighter in support of the southern insurgents, recreated by Tran Thi Van; helmets worn by U.S. and South Vietnamese government soldiers, dog tags, military patches, and field implements; letters from soldiers to their loved ones back home; a condolence letter on the death of a son; period magazines; posters and buttons both demanding an end to the war and urging support for the military effort; and a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s April 1967 speech against the war. Continue reading

Gaetano Pesce Art Exhibition at The Peninsula Chicago

Aligning With Expo Chicago, The Peninsula Chicago Announces An Exhibition Celebrating Artist, Architect And Designer Gaetano Pesce Curated by Salon 94 Design

The Peninsula Chicago presents an exclusive art exhibition with works created by impresario artist, architect, and designer Gaetano Pesce. Curated by Salon 94 Design, the exhibition entitled, What it is to be Human,” aligns with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, taking place at Navy Pier, September 13 to 17, 2017, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial September 16 to January 7, 2018. The collection is open to the public and displayed in the hotel, September 11 to October 9, 2017.

Palladio Cabinet

Gaetano Pesce, Palladio Cabinet, 2007. Photo by Jeff Elstone

With this exhibition, The Peninsula Hotels is continuing its support of innovative public art around the world, by partnering with museums, galleries, and private collectors so guests may enjoy pioneering works by established masters and emerging artists. Each hotel has committed to supporting the arts and art-related Peninsula Academy programs.The Peninsula Chicago Logo

The exhibit title explains how Gaetano’s art connects with humanity, showcasing joy in each piece: featuring 20 objects including: Ritratto dell’ Uomo Centento Cabinet, 2016; Palladio Cabinet, 2007; two versions of Rug Wall Lamp, 2017; Friend Lamp, 2014; What it is to be human chandelier, 2012; Lake Table, 2012; Ricordo della Gamba Sinistra (Skin), 2015; Ritratto di quello che non guarda…o almeno così sembra (Skin), 2015; a selection of Tree Vases, 2015-2017; and ‘Donna’ chair 1969, on loan from Luminaire—an armchair and pouf—a metaphor of the female figure and whimsically comes with a ball and chain. All objects are available for purchase.

Gaetano Pesce's Rug Wall Lamps, 2017

Gaetano Pesce, Rug Wall Lamps, 2017

Maria Razumich-Zec, Regional Vice President and General Manager of The Peninsula Chicago says, “Known for celebrating thoughtful art within the hotel, it is our honor to display Mr. Pesce’s works that provoke thought, emotion and dialogue.”

We are extremely grateful for our partnership with The Peninsula Chicago as both our Official Hotel Sponsor and their ongoing commitment to presenting international artworks to the Chicago community,” said EXPO CHICAGO President | Director Tony Karman. “Gaetano Pesce is an internationally respected artist and this is a not-to-be-missed exhibition.”

Expo Chicago 2017 logo

Expo Chicago 2017 logo

“The work of iconic designer Gaetano Pesce, at The Peninsula Chicago, highlights Salon 94 Design’s focus on radical design. Gaetano’s 50-year career is centered around experimenting with materials and technologies. Featured are his papier-mâche and resin tree vases, recalling the Tuscan landscape of his youth, alongside his explosive sculptural sconces,” said Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, owner of Salon 94 Design. Continue reading

The Whitney To Present Myth Astray: A Project By Arto Lindsay

Contributors include Júlio Bressane, Barbara Browning, Gustavo di Dalva, Christopher Dunn, and Pedro Meira Monteiro

Brazilian-American artist and experimental composer Arto Lindsay will present MYTH ASTRAY, a series of talks, screenings, and musical performances at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art from September 7 to 10.

On the occasion of the current Whitney exhibitions Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium and Calder: Hypermobility, MYTH ASTRAY brings together a multidisciplinary group of artists and scholars to explore the themes of Oiticica’s work and life. Lindsay kicks off the project with the debut of a site-specific installation and a ticketed solo performance on Thursday evening, September 7, in the Museum’s Susan and John Hess Theater. He returns on Saturday, September 9, to perform with the noisemakers and instrument-like objects made by Alexander Calder that were inspired by his travels to Brazil in the late 1940s.

Miguel Rio Branco, Babylonests, 1971. Digital projection, dimensions variable. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Miguel Rio Branco, Babylonests, 1971. Digital projection, dimensions variable. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Three seminal films by Júlio Bressane, an influential member of Brazil’s Cinema Marginal movement of the late 1960s/early 1970s, screen throughout the weekend. Matou a Família e Foi ao Cinema (1969), O Anjo Nasceu (1969), and Cuidado Madame (1970) are among the films to be shown.

Speakers include award-winning novelist, dancer, and cultural critic Barbara Browning and scholars of Brazilian studies Christopher Dunn and Pedro Meira Monteiro. Brazilian percussionist Gustavo di Dalva—who has performed and recorded with some of Brazil’s preeminent musicians, including Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, and Caetano Veloso—performs throughout the weekend.

The program will explore Tropicália, Samba, and the Brazilian avant-garde, focusing on the aesthetic and political movements of Brazil that were central to Oiticica’s practice and the period he spent in New York in the 1970s, where he was stimulated by the art, music, poetry, and theater scenes.

A complete schedule of events is noted below. Programs and screenings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are free with Museum admission. For more information, visit whitney.org.

SCHEDULE

All events will take place in the Museum’s Susan and John Hess Family Theater, Floor 3.

Thursday, September 7

8 pm: Arto Lindsay in Concert

Tickets are required ($25 adults; $18 members, students and seniors). Capacity is limited, and all tickets are standing room only. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

Friday, September 8

  • 3 pm: “Beyond the Image Problem: Hélio Oiticica and Tropicália,” a talk by Christopher Dunn
  • 4 pm: Screening of Júlio Bressane’s O Anjo Nasceu, 1969 (90 min)
  • 6 pm: “Gambiarra rocks: from the concrete to the precarious; from the individual to the collective in Hélio Oiticica,” a talk by Pedro Meira Monteiro
  • 7:30 pm: Performance by Gustavo di Dalva
  • 8:30 pm: “Manhatã: Brazilian in New York,” a talk by Barbara Browning

Saturday, September 9

  • 12 pm: “Manhatã: Brazilian in New York,” a talk by Barbara Browning
  • 2 pm: Performance of Alexander Calder’s noisemakers
  • 3 pm: Performance of Alexander Calder’s noisemakers
  • 4:30 pm: Performance by Gustavo di Dalva
  • 5 pm: “Beyond the Image Problem: Hélio Oiticica and Tropicália,” a talk by Christopher Dunn
  • 6 pm: Performance by Gustavo di Dalva
  • 6:30 pm: “Gambiarra rocks: from the concrete to the precarious; from the individual to the collective in Hélio Oiticica,” a talk by Pedro Meira Monteiro
  • 8:30 pm: Screening of Júlio Bressane’s Film Cuidado Madame, 1970 (70 min)

Sunday, September 10

  • 11 am: “Beyond the Image Problem: Hélio Oiticica and Tropicália,” a talk by Christopher Dunn
  • 12 pm: “Manhatã: Brazilian in New York,” a talk by Barbara Browning
  • 1 pm: Performance by Gustavo di Dalva
  • 1:30 pm: “Gambiarra rocks: from the concrete to the precarious; from the individual to the collective in Hélio Oiticica,” a talk by Pedro Meira Monteiro
  • 2:30 pm: Performance by Gustavo di Dalva
  • 4 pm: Screening of Júlio Bressane’s Film Matou a Família e Foi ao Cinema, 1969 (90 min)

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Art Institute of Chicago. Support for the national tour of this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. In New York, major support is provided by The Whitney’s National Committee. Continue reading

Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined Opens At The Whitney On October 20

The Whitney Museum of American Art debuts Toyin Ojih Odutola’s first solo museum exhibition in New York on October 20, 2017. The exhibition presents an interconnected series of portraits that chronicle the private lives and surroundings of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families: the UmuEze Amara clan and the house of Obafemi. Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against luxurious backdrops of domesticity and leisure. In tandem with the artist’s larger conceived narrative, they highlight the malleability of identity and upend assumptions about race, wealth, and class. The exhibition features a significant new body of work alongside a small selection of works made in 2016.

Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985), Wall of Ambassadors, 2017.

Photo Credit: Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985), Wall of Ambassadors, 2017. Charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper, 40 x 30 inches. © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Ojih Odutola creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity of identification and belonging. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark-making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture. They are informed by the artist’s own array of inspirations, which range from art history to popular culture to experiences of migration and dislocation. Highly attentive to detail and the nuances of space and color—whether of palette or skin—Ojih Odutola continues her examinations of narrative, authenticity, and representation.

Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985) was born in Ife, Nigeria and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She currently lives and works in New York City. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco (2016), the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2015), and the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (2013). She has participated in several group shows including Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, Brooklyn Museum (2015); Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2013); Fore, Studio Museum in Harlem (2012); The Moment for Ink, Chinese Cultural Center, San Francisco (2013); and The Progress of Love, Menil Collection, Houston (2012). Ojih Odutola received her MFA from the California College of Arts, San Francisco in 2012 and her BFA from the University of Alabama, Huntsville in 2008.

Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined will be on view in the first-floor John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery, which is accessible to the public free-of-charge.

This exhibition is organized by Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant. Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined is sponsored by Audi of America. Major support is provided by the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation. Generous support is provided by Jackson Tang.

Landmark Exhibition “World War I and American Art” Makes Final Stop at Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Public Programs Explore Contemporary Cultural Connections and Role of Art in Healing Wounds of War, October 6, 2017–January 21, 2018

World War I and American Art was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

World War I and American Art, the first major exhibition to examine how American artists reacted to the First World War, opens at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts on October 6, 2017. Works by more than seventy artists, including George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, and John Singer Sargent, represent a pivotal chapter in the history of American art that has until now been overlooked and underestimated.

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James Montgomery Flagg (1877–1960). I Want YOU for U.S. Army, Nearest Recruiting Station, 1917. Poster, 40 x 29 1/2 in. Collection of Walton Rawls. Photo: The Library Company of Philadelphia

Timed to coincide with the centennial of the entry of the U.S. into the war, this ambitious exhibition organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia, revisits a critical period in history through a wide variety of artistic responses, ranging from patriotic to dissenting. Garnering acclaim from outlets such as Forbes, The New York Times, and PBS NewsHour, the exhibition and its central themes of how artists respond to geopolitical turmoil is strikingly relevant today. American artists were vital to the culture of the war and the shaping of public opinion in several ways. Some developed propaganda posters promoting U.S. involvement, while others made daring anti-war drawings, paintings, and prints. Some worked as official war artists embedded with troops and others designed camouflage or took surveillance photographs.

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James Montgomery Flagg (1877–1960). I Want YOU for U.S. Army, Nearest Recruiting Station, 1917. Poster, 40 x 29 1/2 in. Collection of Walton Rawls. Photo: The Library Company of Philadelphia

The exhibition features many high-profile loans from both private and public collections, including most importantly Sargent’s monumental tableau Gassed (Imperial War Museums, London), which has been seen in the U.S. only once before (in 1999).

Working as an official war artist for the British government, Sargent witnessed the aftermath of a German mustard gas attack on British soldiers. He represented the harrowing scene on an epic canvas measuring about 7½ x 20 feet,” says Frist Center curator Trinita Kennedy. “Our presentation of the painting and the exhibition as a whole will be enriched by a lecture on opening day entitled ‘Mr. Sargent Goes to War’ by Richard Ormond, the artist’s great-nephew and a renowned scholar based in London.”

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Claggett Wilson (1887–1952). Front Line Stuff, ca. 1919. Watercolor, pencil, and varnish on paperboard, 18 3/4 x 22 7/8 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alice H. Rossin, 1981.163.11. Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY

The organization of the exhibition mirrors the historical unfolding of the war itself. It begins by showing how American artists interpreted the threat of war while the U.S. remained neutral between 1914 and 1917, the debate to enter it, and then how the conflict involved them directly as soldiers, relief workers, political dissenters, and official artists. The spectrum of political points of view and purpose can be seen through the juxtaposition of works. Hassam’s flag paintings are impressionist and patriotic, while Hartley’s tribute paintings to his slain friend and possible lover, a German military officer, are abstract and mournful. Bellows, at first an opponent of the war, later encouraged US involvement by vilifying German war crimes with macabre detail. O’Keeffe’s more personal work reflected her conflicted feelings about her younger brother’s enlistment.

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Marsden Hartley (1877–1943). Portrait, ca. 1914–15. Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 21 1/2 in. Lent by the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Bequest of Hudson D. Walker from the Ione and Hudson D. Walker Collection, 1978.21.234

Return of the Useless

George Bellows (1882–1925). The Return of the Useless, 1918. Oil on canvas, 59 x 66 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2009.6. Photo: Douglas Dalton. Reproduced with permission of The Bellows Trust

A group of patriotic artists came together to form the government’s first art agency in the service of war: the Division of Pictorial Publicity. On display will be iconic recruitment posters created by Laura Brey, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, and others that promoted enlistment with stirring imagery and language. There are also posters aimed at mobilizing women on the homefront, encouraging them to enter the workforce to support the war effort. As part of the Frist Center’s presentation, an education gallery with interactive electronic stations will allow visitors to explore such ideologically motivated works of art. Continue reading