Saturday, December 05, 2009

Elephants in the room

Made my way through the Met's charming "American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915" exhibition this afternoon. It's lots of fun, and since the website has lots of images, I'll give you a baker's dozen.There's much of interest tucked into each one, celebratory, critical, ironic or merely documentary. For instance, here's Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827) in an 1822 self-portrait, "The Artist In His Museum." (He's revered as the inventor of the modern museum at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA.) What is artfully concealed in this enormous painting until your eye has roamed around the collection of stuffed birds, etc. is the giant mammoth skeleton at right behind him, for which the mastodon bones in the foreground serve as a foretaste. In many of the other paintings, the elephant in the room is race. Go on, explore for yourself!

William Sidney Mount (1807–1868), The Painter's Triumph, 1838

William Sidney Mount (1807–1868), "The Power of Music," 1847

Richard Caton Woodville (1825–1855), War News from Mexico, 1848

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822–1902), Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses, 1856

Thomas Le Clear (1818–1882), Young America, ca. 1863

Seymour Joseph Guy (1824–1910), Story of Golden Locks, ca. 1870

Winslow Homer (1836–1910), Dressing for the Carnival, 1877

John George Brown (1831–1913), The Card Trick, 1880–89

George de Forest Brush (1855–1941), The Picture Writer's Story, ca. 1884

William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), The Open Air Breakfast, ca. 1887

William McGregor Paxton (1869–1941), The Breakfast, 1911

George Bellows (1882–1925), Cliff Dwellers, 1913

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