Monday, July 21, 2014

CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Kindred Spirits
Artist: Asher Brown Durand , 1796 - 1886
Depicted: Thomas Cole , 1801 - 1848
Dimensions: 44 x 36 in. (111.8 x 91.4 cm) Framed: 55 1/4 x 47 x 5 1/4
in. (140.3 x 119.4 x 13.3 cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas


ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

After several years of waiting for the right moment to make the trip, I finally made the trek to Bentonville, Arkansas and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Alice Walton vision for a great art institution in a small corner of the United States was ambitious and a complete success. Traveling by road from Texas is not insurmountable long, because the terrain was very scenic. The city of Bentonville look similar to a new suburb of Dallas or Houston. The reason I have been saving up to make the trip is that there were a few key art works I specifically wanted to see, but I found several unexpected surprises.

For me, the most anticipated work for me was Asher Brown Durand’s oil painting “Kindred Spirits.” This image has resurfaced in my life everytime I come across transcendentalist literature. From book covers, to images in text books, Asher Brown Durand captured the spirit of these writers in one image. The scene lays out two friends on a cliff overlooking the natural world. Twenty-three years before the first national parks, Brown Durand pressures the idea of untouched natural spaces. “Kindred Spirits,” make the viewer feel connected and responsible to preserve it.

Part of their portraiture show included Charles Willson Peale, George Washington. This is another iconic image that has been reproduced at nauseum, but the original still managed to maintain its mystique. Without simulacrum propagated by the different media, I don’t think Willson Peale’s painting would have as much impact. Anticipation of the original image by inferior copies only intensified the experience of the original.

Because this is an American art museum in middle of the country, I was expecting to see several Norman Rockwell and American Scene painters. I only saw one by Rockwell, “Rosie the Riveter.” The American Scene painters were not overly represented. A work by Georgia O'Keeffe was another expected encounter and I wasn’t disappointed.

The museum’s Post War collection felt less monumental than the rest of the museum's collection, but not surprising. I have read that Alice Walton was less passionate about the recent trends in art. However, there were a few exceptions. I instantly fell in love with Josef Albers’ 1964 painting, “Homage to the Square: Joy.” His simple, elegant colors of yellow and orange seems to almost swallow me. Mark Rothko’s 1960 “No.210/No. 211 (Orange) also made me pause. I was glad the museum had placed a bench facing the painting. I just sat and absorbed the colors. In their front room was a Jeff Koons heart hanging from an amazing ceiling. It looked like the inside of a ship, turned upside down. From their restaurant, music was reverberating off the walls.

Thier website has an extensive catalog of their permanent collection, after my trip I have found myself reviewing some of the pieces I would like to see more closely on my next visit. Their show, starting on September 13 is “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” which will feature over a 100 artists making work in the America today. I would like to see how their curators approached contemporary art.

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