James and Barbara Palmer Collection paintings now on view

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “Varied and Untried: Early Twentieth-Century American Paintings from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection" is now on view at the Palmer Museum of Art through May 5.

Ashcan realists under the tutelage of Robert Henri and modernists in the circle of Alfred Stieglitz challenged the academic status quo in the early decades of the 20th century. This exhibition highlights many of the American artists — Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Ernest Lawson, John Marin, Alfred Maurer, Georgia O’Keeffe and John Sloan, among others — who were willing to pursue subjects and styles both “varied and untried” as they charted largely untested terrain in a new century.

Committed to exploring independent points of view and spurred on by charismatic and opinionated “leaders,” the artists associated with Henri and Stieglitz provided new ways of looking at the everyday world by opposing the staid academicism of American art. Ashcan artists struck out in search of “life” as it was being lived by the people, as in Everett Shinn’s pastel rendering of a tenement district washerwoman in "The Laundress," 1903, or Lawson’s scene from the urban outskirts, "Boys and Canal Boat — Spuyten Duyvil," 1911–14.

In contrast, modernist artists turned inward, developing new visual languages that were expressive of the individual’s place within the modern world. Hartley’s "Mountains in Stone, Dogtown," 1931, is a work influenced by avant-garde European precedents yet imbued with intense personal meaning. O’Keeffe’s simplified and pristine "Lake George," 1924, was part of a group of breakthrough paintings she created while inspired by a landscape of deep private significance.

The exhibition accompanies the publication of "A Gift from the Heart: American Art from the Collection of James and Barbara Palmer" in spring 2013 and is co-curated by museum curator Joyce Robinson and independent curator Molly S. Hutton.

The following talks are centered around the exhibit:

-- Robinson will give a gallery talk titled "Ashcan Artists in the James and Barbara Palmer Collection" at 12:10 p.m. Feb. 8.

-- Laurette McCarthy, independent scholar and curator, will present a Dickson Lecture in Art History titled "Rewriting the Narrative: New Re-discoveries and Updates on the Armory Show" at 6 p.m. March 14, 112 Borland Building. The event is co-sponsored by the museum, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and the Department of Art History.

-- McCarthy will give a gallery talk titled "American Modernists: 100 Years Since the Armory Show" at 12:10 p.m. March 15.

-- Robinson will give a gallery talk titled "American Modernists in the James and Barbara Palmer Collection" at 12:10 p.m. April 19.

All gallery talks begin in the galleries unless otherwise noted. A greeter will be available in the lobby to direct visitors to the appropriate gallery for all noontime events. The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State is located on Curtin Road and admission is free. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and some holidays. Reduced hours over spring break will be noon to 4 p.m. March 2 to March 10. The museum will be closed Monday, March 4, and Sunday, March 31.

The Palmer Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Chevron Corp. is the Palmer Museum of Art’s major corporate sponsor. Children and family programs are partially funded by the James E. Hess and Suzanne Scurfield Hess Endowment for Art Education in the Palmer Museum of Art, and the Ruth Anne and Ralph Papa Endowment. All other programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art unless otherwise noted.

Also on view at the Palmer Museum of Art this spring are "Lit with Piercing Glances: Linocuts by James Mullen" through May 19 and "Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin," on view Feb. 26 through May 5.

For more information or to request images, please contact Jennifer Feehan, coordinator of membership and public relations, at 814-863-9182 or jenfeehan@psu.edu.

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Last Updated February 07, 2013