Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden

University of Nebraska



Charles Rain: Magic Realism

August 24, 1999 - November 14, 1999


The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden is pleased to present Charles Rain: Magic Realism, an exhibition of paintings and shadow boxes. Chalres Rain's early ties with Lincoln, Nebraska have become an important part of the history of the Sheldon Art Gallery. An cosmopolitan artist with a significant reputation, Rain understood the significance of donating much of his work to his hometown museum. His generosity went beyond donating artwork as he established a substantial bequest toward the Gallery's planned expansion in combination with a subsequent gift from his sister, Charlotte Rain Koch, laid the foundation for the Rain family legacy at the Sheldon Art Gallery. In honor of Charles Rain's commitment, an exhibition of his work is organized annually.

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1911, Charles Rain attended high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and continued his education at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1933 he traveled throughout Europe. It was during his European travels and his exposure to traditional painting techniques that Rain began to develop his unique realistic style. Although Rain's realism is closely identified with Old Master traditions, his subject matter is often eccentric and often assumes surrealistic overtones. By the mid-forties, Rain was identified by critics with an emerging movement called "Magic Realism," a uniquely American response to French Surrealism.

The attention to detail and references to archaic subjects favored by Rain in his paintings is also evident in his charming shadow boxes. These small, highly detailed boxes present elaborate scenes depicting the 17th-century Commedia dell'Arte in Italy. The miniaturized sets include architectural details, clouds, and landscapes and offer a convincing backdrop for the diminutive actors seen in full costume.

Upon Rain's death in 1985, his private collection of 34 paintings and shadow boxes was bequethed to the Sheldon Art Gallery. Since that initial gift, the Gallery has received nine other paintings by Rain, bringing the total of 43 works by this remarkably gifted artist in the collection of the Sheldon Art Gallery.

Read more about the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden in the Resource Library

For further biographical information on Chalres Rain please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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