The realism and honesty of American printmaking in the first half of the 20th century is explored in the Mattatuck Museum’s upcoming exhibition American Master Prints from the Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly. The exhibition opens with a reception including collector Dr. Dorrance Kelly on Sunday, March 3, 2013 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the museum.
In the early decades of the 20th century a number of artists began to reject conservative traditions in printmaking for more innovative directions. Several diverse directions developed. A figurative tradition based on a realistic depiction of American people and places took on new life with subjects of everyday life, particularly urban life. Artists who shared a commitment to vernacular themes reached across stylistic and group affiliations.
This exhibition examines the work of six artists who rejected genteel and fashionable subject matter for scenes that reflected modern life including George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, Martin Lewis, Reginald Marsh, and John Sloan. Cultural history comes alive in their visual first-hand accounts of topics as far-ranging as boxing, church-going, storms and floods, subways and country fairs. Important historical figures in art, literature, politics and sports are portrayed and states of mind, emotions and records of urban alienation are evidenced.
Among the 110 works in the exhibition are iconic images such as
George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey’s (1909),
Edward Hopper’s Night Shadows (1921),
and Reginald Marsh’s Bread Line (1929).
As first-hand accounts of popular culture, these prints bring history alive.
Dr. Dorrance Kelly has always been a collector; as a child he found joy in acquiring items like baseball cards, coins and stamps. As he got older became more interested in history and artwork and started collecting objects that would help compliment his expertise in these areas. Early 20th century artists soon piqued Kelly’s interest and he began collecting the so-called ashcan artists with a similar passion. “It’s difficult to try and explain this insanity and the thrill of the conquest in discovering treasures and acquiring them privately and at auctions. It turns out not to be just the love of the particular pieces of artwork, but the friendly gamesmanship in outmaneuvering others in their acquisition,” explains Kelly.
The exhibition, on view through Sunday, May 19, 2013, will be accompanied by educational programs that explore the social and economic issues developed in these works.
Visit www.MattatuckMuseum.org or call (203) 753-0381 for more information on all of the museum’s adult and children’s programs, events and exhibits. The Mattatuck Museum is operated with support from the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development, CT Office of the Arts which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and is a member of the Connecticut Art Trail, a group of 16 world-class museums and historic sites (www.arttrail.org). Located at 144 West Main Street, Waterbury, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free parking is located behind the building on Park Place.
More images from exhibition:
John Sloan, Love on the Roof, 1914 Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly
John Sloan, Subway Stairs, 1926, Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly
Martin Lewis, Under the Street Lamp, 1928, etching, Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly