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Walt Whitman and American Art on View at Katonah Museum of Art
Winslow Homer, "The Bright Side", 1865. Oil on canvas, 13 ¼ x 17 ½ inches. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Gift of Mr. & Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, III.
KATONAH, NY.- The Katonah Museum of Art is presenting Bold, Cautious, True: Walt Whitman and American Art of the Civil War Era through January 24, 2010. Through excerpts of Whitman’s writing paired with some of the most important artworks of the mid-nineteenth century, "Bold, Cautious, True" creates an authentic window to America’s social and art history, with a poignant view of its bloodiest war.

A champion of America and the individual, Whitman contributed to the war through his literary talents and by nursing wounded soldiers. Although he published no poetry during the Civil War, he wrote many poems about his war experiences for later editions of his legendary "Leaves of Grass". His poetic language and his celebration of the individual paralleled the changes taking hold in American art during and after the Civil War. Highlighting Whitman’s poems such as “Drum Taps,” the literature of "Bold, Cautious, True" helps viewers read the exhibition and the period as a whole.

With Whitman’s literary art along with the work of artists such as Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, Sanford Robinson Gifford, Frederic Church, and John Frederick Kensett trace the emotional and political themes of the fratricidal war—secession, death, emancipation, and an uncertain future for a young country. Organized into five thematic sections, The Poetics of a House Divided; The Poetics of Service; The Wound Dresser; The Poetics of Endings and Beginnings; and Bold, Cautious, True, the exhibition – with close to 60 works – is a landmark study that sheds light on the cross-currents of history, literature, and the visual arts illuminating a troubled era in American history.

"Bold, Cautious, True" is being presented in partnership with the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, TN where the show was organized and originally opened in July 2009. The exhibition includes a handsome 180-page hardcover catalogue written by Kevin Sharp, Director of the Dixon.

Neil Watson, Executive Director of the KMA, said, “The Katonah Museum of Art is proud to partner with the Dixon Gallery and Gardens on such a groundbreaking exhibition. This is a stunning show, with an original perspective that is galvanizing. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue will change the way we think about American art during the Civil War era.”

The Katonah Museum of Art | Bold Cautious True | Walt Whitman | American Art |


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