Nothing conjures up the nostalgic memories of family, vacations by the beach, and summer fun quite like the work of Edward Henry Potthast. This summer, The Cincinnati Art Museum
presents Eternal Summer, a retrospective of the art of Cincinnati native Edward Henry Potthast. It will include more than ninety works, some never before seen by the public. They showcase Potthasts skill in oil painting, watercolor, printmaking, and drawing in pencil, pastel and ink. Potthast, an American Impressionist, created accessible and lively paintings, often of everyday people enjoying seaside recreation. Eternal Summer includes not only the celebrated beach paintings, but also showcases the artists full range of themes, encouraging us to look beyond the subjects to appreciate his amazing technical skills.
Potthast was among the first artists to introduce Impressionism to Cincinnati, says Julie Aronson, Curator of American Painting, Sculpture and Drawings. He was a master at making his works seem effortless --but to achieve their sense of immediacy required considerable finesse. The show features studies he made for his evocative canvases, including vivid oil sketches painted outdoors.
Thirty-five works from the Cincinnati Art Museums permanent collection are the core of Eternal Summer: The Art of Edward Henry Potthast. The Art Museums holdings include a very early etching, two posters, two sketchbooks, ten watercolors, several oil studies, and eighteen finished paintings. Dutch Interior, acquired in 1894, was the first of Potthasts works to enter a museum collection. Seldom seen works from private collections and important loans from other museums, like the large beach painting A Holiday from the Art Institute of Chicago and the spectacular Looking across the Grand Canyon from the Phoenix Art Museum, will allow visitors to fully appreciate his artistry.
Viewers can expect to see Potthasts explorations of figure studies; humble Dutch and Brittany peasants; farmer laborers and cattle; landscapes; coastal views and fishermen; parks, often with frolicking children; and the public beaches of New England and the mid-Atlantic. All ages will enjoy programs and interactive learning stations, such as computer terminals at which visitors may explore the two-hundred drawings in the Art Museums sketchbooks.
Eternal Summer looks at the social and historical context of Potthasts subjects, including the popularity of simple peasant themes during the Industrial Revolution, the "Dutch craze," and the rise of middle-class leisure time and tourism. Bathing costumes, produced in response to the growing popularity of beach-going in Potthasts day, will appear alongside his paintings. The exhibition builds on the Cincinnati Art Museums long-standing tradition of presenting significant scholarship on American art with the fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.
Eternal Summer coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Cincinnati Art Museums acclaimed Cincinnati Wing, which will be celebrated through a Cincinnati Summer, a ten week-long series of programs and activities designed for children and adults to discover the contributions of Cincinnati artists like Potthast.