Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art
Winslow Homer Facing Nature
The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the exhibition "Winslow Homer Facing Nature," on view through April 16, 2000. Organized by the Portland Museum of Art, Maine, this will be a retrospective exhibition of Homer masterpieces drawn from the Charles Shipman Payson Collection and the William M. B. Berger Charitable Trust. The exhibition will also feature America's best-loved painting, Snap the Whip, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. "This is clearly the most significant project we have undertaken during my tenure," stated Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art Director Alexander V. J. Gaudieri, "and I believe it will have very broad appeal." (left: Snap the Whip, Collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art)
According to Portland Art Museum, Maine, Director Daniel E. O'Leary, "This is the most important exhibition our museum has ever lent." It is also the first major Winslow Homer exhibition ever to come to the South.
The Charles Shipman Payson collection of works by Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910) features 13 watercolors and four oils. Included are hunting and fishing scenes in the Adirondack Mountains, thunderous surf on the Maine Coast, the stoic fishing folk of Cullercoats, England, and New England children at play and at work. Along with the remarkable paintings from the Charles Shipman Payson collection, the William M. B. Berger Charitable Trust includes a rare early Prouts Neck painting and an outstanding group of Homer watercolors. Drawings, wood engravings, oils and additional watercolors from other private collections and institutions complete the exhibition. (left: Young Ducks, 1897, watercolor, 14 x 21 inches)
"Winslow Homer Facing Nature" addresses the prevailing theme in the artist's work. Homer's engagement with the natural world was a constant in a career otherwise marked by regular changes in subject matter, venue and tone. Whether painting on the coast of Maine, in the Adirondacks, or the Caribbean, Homer used images of the human experience in nature to explore his major themes. "Winslow Homer Facing Nature" represents the full span of the artist's career, from the harrowing scenes of the Civil War to idyllic images of post-war rural life to rugged, raw and powerful paintings of the sea. (right: Returning from the Spring, 1874, oil, 8 x 6 inches)
Winslow Homer's first explorations of the natural world were lyrical depictions of rural life. In the years following the Civil War, Homer retreated to the countryside of New York and Massachusetts where he painted watercolors and oils that depict the landscape as a place of leisure and solace. These works stand in stark contrast to his earlier images of the Civil War in which the world was the setting for perdition, violence and desolation.
Homer's paintings of the 1860s and 1870s were closely allied to his work as an illustrator for periodicals such as Harper's Weekly. The drawings that he provided as the basis for the published wood engravings helped him develop his gift far pictorial narrative. Wood engravings, such as The Fishing Party (1869) and Snap the Whip (1872), show Homer perceptively recording and commenting on contemporary life. In The Artist in the Country (1869) and the related painting, Artists Sketching in the White Mountains (1868), he documented the phenomenon of artists traveling to remote and unspoiled landscapes to paint directly from nature. (left: Artists Sketching in the White Mountains , 1868)
At the end of this period, Homer turned his back on his career as an illustrator and devoted himself exclusively to painting. This new direction was solidified during a year spent in the coastal English village of Cullercoats. There he created a moving series of paintings, including The Breakwater, Cullercoats (1869), depicting the fishermen and women whose lives were dependent upon and vulnerable to the sea.
Upon his return to the United States, he continued this direction, settling at Prouts Neck on the Southern Coast of Maine. For the last three decades of his career, he divided his time between Maine and travels to the Adirondacks, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean. In all of these locales, he continued to explore his potent themes of survival and mortality through increasingly powerful images of man and his relationship to untamed nature. The culminating paintings of his career, such as Weatherbeaten (1894), are pure and powerful images of nature's force. (left: Weatherbeaten ,1894, oil on canvas, 28 x 48 inches)
"Winslow Homer Facing Nature" will be accompanied by a gallery guide, an illustrated exhibition brochure, featuring an essay by Portland Museum of Art curator, Jessica Noll, and a catalogue, Winslow Homer at the Portland Museum of Art, available in the Museum Shop. "Winslow Homer Facing Nature" is organized by The Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Snap the Whip is being lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The MCMA venue of this exhibition is generously sponsored by Town Center at Cobb; The Downtown Marietta Development Authority; Brumby-Leonard Family Foundation, Inc.; Deventer Group; Moore, Ingram, Johnson & Steele; Hylton & Patsy DuPree; Mathews Carpet Company, Inc.; and media sponsorship by the Marietta Daily Journal.
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