The Musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art have announced the second installation in their four-year collaboration focusing on the history of American art. Opening at the Louvre on Jan. 19, 2013, “New Frontier II. L’art américain entre au Louvre Aux sources de la peinture de genre américaine (New Frontier II. American Art Enters the Louvre. The origins of American genre painting)” provides a close look at three major genre paintings, each of which offers a unique perspective on 19th-century America. Two additional works from the collections at the Louvre exemplify American genre painting’s European sources. Following its presentation at the Louvre (Jan. 19–Apr. 22, 2013), the installation will travel to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR (May 11–Aug. 12, 2013), and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA (Sept. 14, 2013–Jan.14, 2014).
American genre painting, or scenes of everyday life, flourished during the first half of the 19th century, when the young nation sought images and narratives to define and bolster its developing identity. Portraying the lives of everyday Americans, genre painting often served as a vehicle for expressions of cultural nationalism. Three paintings in the installation will provide examples of American genre painting: Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s “The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix” (1856) from Crystal Bridges, Eastman Johnson’s “Negro Life at the South” (c.1870) from the High, and George Caleb Bingham’s “The Jolly Flatboatmen” (1877–78) from the Terra Foundation. These works will be accompanied by two paintings from the Louvre: Jan Steen’s “Festive Family Meal” (1674) and William Mulready’s “Train Up a Child” (1841/1853), representative of the seventeenth-century Dutch and mid-nineteenth-century English schools that greatly influenced genre painters in the United States.
“The true value of this international collaboration is becoming increasingly evident as we open the second of four focused installations planned for the coming years,” said Peter John Brownlee, associate curator, Terra Foundation for American Art. “The ongoing nature of the partnership not only enables us to present great American paintings alongside their European predecessors. It enables a more fluid and more sustained dialogue about American art and its influences on a global stage. Following the success of the first installation of American landscape painting, we are excited to continue this object-based exchange through a series of focused presentations accompanied by educational programs and publications.”
“The Louvre visitors are familiarizing themselves with American painting and have shown great interest since our first exhibition around Thomas Cole and landscape painting,” said Guillaume Faroult, curator, Paintings department, musée du Louvre. “For many of them, the discovery of this artist and the Hudson River School exhibited at the Louvre for the first time was a complete revelation. This second installation around American painting is now anticipated by our public. The focus on American genre painting will be the opportunity to also highlight some of our recent acquisitions including a recovered painting by American artist Emmanuel Leutze, donated to the museum by the American Friends of the Louvre, and another one by Charles Robert Leslie from the Forbes collection.”
The first installation of the collaboration between the musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art explored the birth of American landscape painting through the works of Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. “American Encounters: Thomas Cole and the Birth of Landscape Painting in America” premiered at the Louvre in January 2012 before traveling to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and then to the High Museum of Art, where it is currently on view through Jan. 6, 2013.
The partners are collaborating to produce a small catalogue for each installation. The illustrated book for “American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life” will feature an essay by Terra Foundation for American Art curator Peter John Brownlee that traces major themes in early-to-mid-19th-century genre painting, as well as additional texts contributed by project curators: Blaise Ducos and Guillaume Faroult from the musée du Louvre, Kevin M. Murphy from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Stephanie Mayer Heydt from the High Museum of Art. It is being published by Marquand Books and distributed by the University of Washington Press.
Coinciding with the Louvre presentation, a series of lectures on narrative and representation in American art of the 18th and 19th-century will be co-organized by the Louvre and the Terra Foundation for American Art. These lectures will take place on February 4, 11, 14, and 18, at 6:30 pm at the Louvre Auditorium. More details will be announced at: www.louvre.fr/expositions/new-frontier-ii-l-art-americain-entre-au-louvre-aux-sources-de-la-peinture-de-genre-amer
History of Collaborations Among the Partners
In 2003, the Terra Foundation supported a major conference on American art at the Louvre, entitled “The Independence of American Art.” In 2006, the Louvre and the Terra Foundation collaborated on two important projects: they presented the first American art exhibition at the Louvre, in which Samuel F. B. Morse’s monumental “Gallery of the Louvre” (1831–33) from the foundation’s collection hung in the Louvre’s Salon Carré, the same room featured in the painting; and along with the Henry Luce Foundation, they created the Lafayette database, which is a comprehensive inventory of works of American art in French collections (http://musee.louvre.fr/bases/lafayette/?lng=1).
From 2006–2009, the Louvre and the High participated in a collection-sharing initiative called “Louvre Atlanta” that included a series of thematic exhibitions and the development of joint publications and other collaborative scholarship. The Terra Foundation also lent its “Gallery of the Louvre” as part of the Louvre-High collaboration; the painting was on view at the High Museum as part of the “Kings as Collectors” exhibition in 2006.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art explores the unfolding story of America through the collection of works that illuminate American heritage and artistic possibilities. Founded in 2005 by Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation, the Museum opened on Nov. 11, 2011. The Museum takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building design by architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house collection and exhibition galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. The Museum’s goal of intersecting art and nature is realized not only in the physical buildings, but through sculpture and walking trails, which link the Museum’s 120-acre park and gardens to downtown Bentonville, Ark. The Museum’s permanent collection spans five centuries of American paintings, sculpture, and works on paper ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. For more information, visit www.crystalbridges.org.
High Museum of Art
Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th– and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005 the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, visit www.High.org.
Musée du Louvre
Heir to the century of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the Louvre was founded in 1793 as a museum for all celebrating humanity’s long journey with the remarkable scope of a collection that spans thousands of years. Located in central Paris, and once a home to the kings, the Louvre is now an internationally recognized cultural reference which strives to uphold a dynamic and ambitious policy of research, exhibitions, education, and acquisition. The world’s most visited museum, the Louvre further highlights its universal reach via the diversity of its 8.9 million annual visitors while 2.5 million others viewed exhibitions organized by the Louvre around the world. The museum presents 35,000 works of art in over 60,000 m² of exhibition space. The permanent collection consists of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848 and the works of ancient civilizations that preceded and influenced it (Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Near-Eastern Art, Islamic Art). For more information, visit www.louvre.fr.
Terra Foundation for American Art
Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States. With an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to 1945, an expansive grant program, and specialized staff at its Chicago and Paris offices, it is one of the leading foundations focused on American art, and devotes approximately $12 million annually in support of American art exhibitions, projects, and research worldwide. For more information, visit www.terraamericanart.org.