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Feb 21, 2019. - Jun 23, 2019.

Watercolor

An American Medium

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Thomas Moran American (1837-1926), Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, ca. 1875, Watercolor on paper board, Gift of Mr. Hugh Gordon Miller

A survey of the heights of the American watercolor movement from around 1870– to 1940 that reveals a deeper appreciation of watercolor’s central place in the larger history of American art.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, watercolor painting—once considered a medium best suited to amateur artists or preliminary sketches—developed into a significant force in American art. By the turn of the century, the popularity of watercolor painting as well as the qualities favored by its leading artists of boldness, directness, and cheerfulness led many critics to proclaim watercolor the “American Medium.” Working in a wide range of styles and motifs, amateur and professional artists produced watercolors of technical brilliance and captivating beauty that pushed the boundaries of the medium and positioned watercolor at the leading edges of American art.

This exhibition presents a survey of the heights of the American watercolor movement from around 1870– to 1940 and reveals a deeper appreciation of watercolor’s central place in the larger history of American art. Many artists who achieved great fame for their paintings in oil such as John Singer Sargent, Thomas Moran, and John La Farge also devoted considerable attention to watercolors, producing some of their most spectacular and enduring efforts within this medium. Through the twentieth century, leading artists like Charles Demuth, John Marin, Maurice Prendergast, and Marguerite Zorach continued to embrace watercolor, which played a pivotal role in the progress of American modernism.

Drawn from the Chrysler Museum of Art’s holdings of works on paper as well as Hampton Roads collections, the exhibition features more than thirty-five watercolors which represent the broad set of styles, subjects, and artists that comprised this important and delightful chapter of American art.