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Exhibition Title

An Exhibition of 'American Art'

An Exhibition of 'American Art'

19.02. - 15.03.1929
The Harvard Society for Contemporary Art, Cambridge (MA)



THIS exhibition is an assertion of the importance of American art. It represents the work of men no longer young who have helped to create a national tradition in emergence, stemming from Europe but nationally independent. An historical suggestion in relation to their American ancestry may be useful. The painters represented fall roughly into the two groups of Lyrists and Realists, whose roots extend into the nineteenth century. At the head of the first stands Albert Ryder; Benton, Davies, Kent, Miller, Sterne, whether or not they have immediately responded to his personal qualities of abstract lyricism which he holds in common with Blake and El Greco, correspond at least to a kindred tradition of visual poetry. Thomas Eakins is perhaps the precursor of the realists. The clarity of his serious vision, the directness of his optical approach continues in Bellows, Hopkinson, Sloan, and Speicher, and through them it has been transmitted to the younger Burchfield, Hopper, and Robinson. The French impressionists, and notably Manet, Daumier, Cezanne, and Renoir, have left their mark on Bellows and Speicher, though the one never traveled abroad and the other is expressly - "American."

The uselessness of all categories is apparent when one attempts to classify Marin or O'Keefe — both strongly original artists. The former preoccupies himself with analytic abstraction of form and color, the latter has magnified vegetable shapes into a superb decorative formalism.

The sculptors Archipenko, Lachaise, and Laurent have all Gallic backgrounds. Archipenko is perhaps the most original, formally abstract, and most obviously experimental. Laurent has a fine feeling for the textures and surfaces of stone and wood. Lachaise is less dependent than Maillol on classic models, less intellectually absorbed than Brancusi, and more powerful than Dobson or Epstein. He has made a profound contribution to American sculpture.

These men are not the only painters and sculptors in America, nor are they the only ones who have the vitality of contemporary expression. They are a vanguard, grouped arbitrarily with a certain historical consistence, who provide a solid foundation for an American school.

The catalog of this exhibition at 'The Harvard Society for Contemporary Art' Exhibition Page Blog
The Harvard Society for Contemporary Art – Exhibition Timeline and Artists 1929-1932