"From Heroes to Immortals" and "A Room with a View" open at OKCMOA
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"From Heroes to Immortals" and "A Room with a View" open at OKCMOA
Thomas Cole, An Italian Autumn, ca. 1844-47. Oil on canvas, 32 x 48 in. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Museum purchase with funds from the James C. and Virginia W. Meade Collections Endowment, the Meade Acquisition Fund, and the Beaux Arts Society Fund for Acquisitions, 2019.001

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.- Two new, original exhibitions, “From Heroes to Immortals: Classical Mythological Prints” and “A Room with a View: Scenes of the Italian Countryside,” open May 15 at 10 a.m. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Curated from OKCMOA’s permanent collection, the exhibitions highlight themes from “The Painters of Pompeii: Roman Frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum, Naples,” the Museum’s blockbuster summer exhibition.

“Throughout history, artists have turned to classical mythology and the Italian countryside for inspiration,” said Bryn Schockmel, curator for both exhibitions. “Theseus and the Minotaur, Narcissus and Echo, the Judgment of Paris – these may be stories you know, or names you have heard. ‘From Heroes to Immortals’ features 500 years of works on paper that explore our enduring fascination with these spectacular stories and characters.”

“The Italian campagna, or countryside, has a similar appeal and is featured in ‘A Room with a View,’' Schockmel continued. "The campagna’s sweeping vistas, at times sprinkled with ancient ruins, make for an enticing subject for artists in a variety of mediums. American artists in particular traveled to Italy throughout the 19th century to study not only the great masterpieces of ancient and Renaissance art, but also to sketch and paint the campagna bathed in a beautiful glow. This exhibition features works of art that illustrate artists' lasting love affair with the Italian campagna.”

“From Heroes to Immortals”

Featuring 20 prints from OKCMOA’s collection, “From Heroes to Immortals” includes works by Dole Reed, Leonard Baskin, Heinrich Aldegrever, Grace Hartigan and others. For millennia, classical mythology has been a shared language through which artists can tells tales of heroism, love, vengeance and more. From the frescoes of ancient Rome through the art of today, myths have served as an eternal source of inspiration.

Renaissance painters and printmakers used ancient myths as a vehicle for depicting the nude form in a tasteful and acceptable manner. Similarly, in the 17th and 18th centuries, when landscape was only just emerging as a distinct genre, artists used stories from the classical world as a model in which to create vast landscapes, with only the smallest of figures. Continuing into modern times, mythological tales have been used by artists as a form of satire or as a reflection on contemporary society.

This exhibition features works on paper from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Some recount famous myths; others more obscure stories. In some, the mythological tale takes a backseat, with the focus primarily on the human form or the landscape setting. All of the works, however, reinforce the enduring power of classical mythology.

“A Room with a View”

Through 16 photos, prints and paintings, “A Room with a View” explores the influence of the Italian campagna on artists over the course of three centuries. American Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole was preoccupied with the effect of humans on the landscape and the ruins left behind by past civilizations. A century-and-a-half later, Canadian photographer Geoffrey James also sought to explore how mankind had impacted the Roman landscape, in both ancient times and more recently. Other artists, such as Louis Eilshemius, were drawn to the almost spiritual quality of the Italian countryside.

Both exhibitions will be on view through Nov. 7.

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