Currier Gallery of Art

Manchester, NH



From Wyeth to Welliver: American Realism of the Twentieth Century


For every Pollock, there's an oil painter devoted to the techniques of the old European masters. For every Rothko, there's an artist who believes color can represent a physical landscape as well as an emotional one. For every admirer of the abstract, the surreal, and the minimal, there are devotees of "realist" art that depicts a recognizable world.

From Wyeth to Welliver: American Realism of the Twentieth Century opens June 30, 2001 at the Currier Gallery of Art and includes some of New England's finest examples of "representational" art. This exhibition is part of an ongoing series highlighting the strengths of the Currier's collection, and includes many works that are rarely on view to the public. From Wyeth to Welliver presents a diverse selection of 80 paintings, works on paper and sculpture, featuring masterpieces from such artists as Charles Sheeler, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, and Neil Welliver. (left: James Aponovich, Still Life with Chocolates, 1984, oil on canvas)

Twentieth-century art is marked by the development of avant-garde styles like Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Artists who ignored or rebelled against these Modernist methods and continued to embrace Realism often found themselves on the sidelines, largely dismissed by the art world as reactionary and nostalgic. The 60 artists included in From Wyeth to Welliver share not only a commitment to Realism in light of such criticism, but, in many cases, they share a regional connection. (right: Marsden Hartley, Abundance, 1939-40, oil on canvas)

While representational artists have lived and worked throughout the United States, From Wyeth to Welliver features a high percentage of local talent. Charles Sheeler's 1948 portrait of Manchester's millyard, Blair Folts' depiction of Tuckerman's Ravine and woodcuts by New Hampshire printmaker Herbert Ogden Waters will all strike familiar chords with New Englanders. Many will also recognize the photorealistic still lifes of Nashua native James Aponovich, and Neil Welliver's poetic renderings of the Maine landscape.

Spanning the 1930s through the 1980s, From Wyeth to Welliver also showcases the great diversity of styles within American Realism. From Thomas Hart Benton's illustrative regionalism in the 1930s, to the Pop-influenced work of painters and printmakers Jim Dine and Ed Ruscha, to Richard Estes' photorealistic views of city streets, From Wyeth to Welliver embraces an array of forms and subjects. (left: Neil Welliver, Blue Pool, 1980, oil on canvas)

The diversity of the art in From Wyeth to Welliver is reinforced by diversity in the labels accompanying the works. For the first time, the Currier has asked New Hampshire "celebrities" from all walks of life to bring their own interpretations to an exhibition, to inspire all the museum's visitors to think more deeply about art.

Each celebrity will choose a favorite painting, sculpture or work on paper from the exhibition and write an accompanying "label" about what that work means to him or her. Beginning Thursday, July 12, the labels will be on view until the exhibition closes on September 3, 2001. Governor Jeanne Shaheen, WNDS weather personality Al Kaprialian, children's author Tomie DiPaola, Fleet NH Bank President Mike Whitney, New Hampshire College basketball coach Stan Spirou, WZID disc jockey Charlie O'Brian and writer and humorist Rebecca Rule are among the public figures who have agreed to share thoughts inspired by a work in the Currier's collection. (right: Edward Hopper, The Bootleggers, 1925, oil on canvas)

From Wyeth to Welliver: American Realism of the Twentieth Century is drawn from the collection of The Currier Gallery of Art. Major funding for From Wyeth to Welliver was provided by AT&T Wireless, with additional support from Jefferson Pilot Financial.

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Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

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

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/28/11

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