The National Gallery of Art has always been a magnet for culturally significant works of art. Its latest exhibit affirms this reputation.
“Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries” is by far one of the most comprehensive and captivating exhibits recently shown in the gallery. As the name would suggest, the exhibition features works of art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focusing on the European modernist who helped shape the younger American movement. It also features works of African and tribal art, which greatly influenced many of the European artists, including Picasso.
Alfred Stieglitz, a gallery owner in New York between 1905 and 1946, hosted more than 190 exhibitions. His galleries were more than just a showcase to move artwork. Stieglitz was committed to bringing new and exciting ideas to the American public.
Aside from art displays, Stieglitz’s galleries also hosted plays and performance pieces. In his own right Stieglitz was an amazing photographer and published several books. But his most important contribution to the American art scene was his interest in the new and experimental art forms developed in Europe at the time.
The current exhibition at the National Gallery is divided into two distinct sections. The first section is a collection works Stieglitz showed in his gallery between 1908 and 1917. This section alone is enough to leave one satisfied, with many rare and famous works by artists including Picasso, Matisse, C?zanne and Kandinsky.
Many of the displayed pieces made their American debut in Stieglitz’s galleries. Famous pieces include Matisse’s Nudes in the Forest (1920) and Picasso’s Head of a Man (1913) and Head of a Woman (1909). Beautiful sculptures by Rodin displayed in the exhibit complement many larger sculptures already on display in the sculpture garden.
The second section of the exhibition centers on the impact Stieglitz’s efforts had on art, showcasing the work of American artists and photography from a burgeoning urban landscape.
Paintings by Georgia O’Keefe make up some of the more interesting features of this section. The works, which include White Flower (1929) and Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses (1931), track O’Keefe’s development as an artist.
Some of the other featured American artists include Charles Demuth, Paul Strand and Marsden Hartley. Most of their works come from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. The second section of the exhibit provides a great overview of the development of modern American art.
Many of Stieglitz’s photographs are featured throughout the exhibit, offering an astounding vision of his work. Stieglitz’s shots are moving examples of photography as an art, and they help contextualize the rest of the exhibit. His pictures create a history of American artists, showing how their works shaped the American landscape.
“Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries” offers an impressive overview of the massive cultural and artistic changes that occurred in America in the early and middle parts of the century. It is not only a great exhibit because of the quality of art displayed, but also because of the place that these pieces hold in the development of our current artistic movements. Stieglitz deserves the attention and praise of all fans of art, either modernist or