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Georgia Museum of Art shows masterworks spanning 200 years of American art
Severin Roesen (ca. 1815–ca. 1872), Still Life with Fruit, n.d. Oil on canvas. Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA Museum purchase and the William A. Coulter Fund, 1980.78

ATHENS, GA.- The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia is featuring the exhibition “Picturing America: Signature Works from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art” June 14 to Aug. 24. The exhibition, organized by the Westmoreland Museum, features 56 works spanning 200 years of American art, charting the country’s emergence as a cultural capital of the world.

Laura Valeri, in-house curator of the exhibition and associate curator of European art at the Georgia Museum of Art, said, “We are excited to host this exhibition of masterworks by seminal American artists. The exhibition brings together beautiful works of American painting and sculpture from colonial times to the mid-20th century with particular focus on portraiture, landscape and still-life."

Seen through these three subject areas, the artists represented in this exhibition serve as a survey of American art. The exhibition features oil and tempera paintings and bronze sculptures by artists ranging from Charles Willson Peale to Mary Cassatt, Robert Henri and Harriet Frishmuth.

Bucolic landscape paintings by George Hetzel, a Pennsylvania artist, and his fellow artists in the Scalp Level school, serve as counterpoints to works depicting the Big Steel Era of Pittsburgh, illustrating the transformation of the American landscape from an agrarian society to an industrial one. The exhibition also features works by members of Thomas Cole’s Hudson River school and examines portraiture as a consistently respected and evolving form of American art. The range of portrait artists highlights the evolution from highly detailed portraits to impressionistic portrayals of sitters to modernist and masklike portraits. Still-life similarly shifts from a focus on trompe l’oeil to a more modern approach.

Valeri added that she hopes to eliminate labels on the gallery walls for this exhibition in favor of using iPads, which visitors can check out for free from the security guards. This approach should minimize distractions from the works of art and increase accessibility, as visitors with visual impairments should be able to increase the font size to make reading the text easier.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, in Greensburg, Penn., is the largest repository of southwestern Pennsylvania art in the country. This exhibition comes to the Georgia Museum of Art as a rare opportunity while the Westmoreland undergoes renovations. Pennsylvania played an important role in the beginnings of the United States of America, and the Westmoreland holds many works by our country’s early artists including John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West.

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