A temporary exhibition featuring 101 art works by American and European Modernists, as well as African art, opened Nov. 9 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
. The exhibition, titled The Artists Eye: Georgia OKeeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, includes works from the collection of photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, and features the artists Stieglitz most favored, including OKeeffe, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, and John Marin, alongside some of the early European Modernists who inspired them, including Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Artists Eye is on view at Crystal Bridges through Feb. 3, 2014.
This exhibition showcases the rise of American Modernism, a cause Stieglitz championed throughout his career as a fine-arts photographer, gallery owner and impresario. He began his career as one of the first gallery owners in the United States to exhibit European Modernists such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Cézanne. Over time, however, Stieglitz became completely committed to supporting and encouraging artists he felt were creating a uniquely American style of Modernism. He supported artists by showing their work, purchasing artworks from them, and even occasionally providing money for food or supplies, or studio space in which they could produce their work.
Six artists comprised Stieglitzs core circle: Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, John Marin, Georgia OKeeffe and Charles Demuth, plus the photographer Paul Strand. Most of these artists, each with his or her own particular trademark style, are well represented in The Artists Eye with works that trace their artistic development over their careers. The exhibition also features several of Stieglitzs own photographs, many of them familiar and iconic images demonstrating Stieglitzs passion for a modern approach to fine-art photography.
In addition to works by artists of Stieglitzs circle, there are several works by influential European artists Stieglitz exhibited in his galleries, as well as other American artists, including Wanda Gâg, Alfred Henry Maurer, Charles Sheeler, and Abraham Walkowitz. The exhibition also includes four works by 19th-century African artists. European modern art was highly influenced by the stylized forms and geometrical shapes of African art. Recognizing this, Stieglitz was among the first in the U.S. to mount an exhibition of African works as fine art, rather than as ethnographic objects.
Visitors to this exhibition will have an opportunity to experience a critical time in the history of American art, said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow. Each of these artists was making their own unique statement, and each helped to shape the course of American art for the future.
History of the Collection
This collection of 101 artworks was donated to Fisk University by Stieglitzs wife, Georgia OKeeffe, after his death in 1946. She divided the collection and donated works to six different institutions: Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pa.; The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, Ill.; the National Gallery of Art, and the Library of Congress, Washington DC. The works in this collection are now co-owned by Crystal Bridges and Fisk University. The collection will travel between the two institutions every two years.
By sharing this collection, Crystal Bridges and Fisk University are making these works accessible to a wide audience, said Bigelow. We are excited to be partnering on several educational programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including public lectures by Fisk University professionals and Stieglitz scholars. In January, Crystal Bridges is holding a special Scholars Symposium, offering the top scholars in the field of American modern art the opportunity to view the collection in its entirety and to share ideas and research into Stieglitz and his circle. We are excited about opening up this avenue for increased scholarship into the collection, and are looking forward to continuing to work with Fisk University to preserve and exhibit these works.