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In 1910, New York saw the birth of a new exhibition society, the “Pastellists,” organized by George Bellows, Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn. Rising on the ashes of an older group, led by William Merritt Chase, that intermittently exhibited between 1885 and 1889, the new club presented four exhibitions between 1911 and 1914 and then disappeared. Why pastel again, at just this moment?
George Luks covered the Spanish-American conflict from a bar. Frederic Remington wired his employer from Havana, “There will be no war;” Hearst replied, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” William Glackens depicted invading Americans, Spanish soldiers, and the Cubans caught between them. After the war, Winslow Homer commemorated the critical battle of Santiago in his ominous Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba.
In the spring of 1911, Rockwell Kent organized An Independent Exhibition of the Paintings and Drawings of Twelve Men. Kent’s exhibition was a pointed response to his mentor Robert Henri’s Independent Artists show of 1910 and Henri’s landmark exhibition of The Eight at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. This discussion of alternative exhibition strategies will illuminate the conflicted nature of American modernism in the first decades of the 20th century.
William Glackens’s Girl with Apple, a studio nude painted for exhibition, was unusual in the context of his own work and that of his American peers. Glackens was responding to the long tradition of daring European nudes that had culminated in Édouard Manet’s startling Olympia. But what did this work mean in the context of 1910 New York? Was this a new bohemian ideal? Or was it all about Eve?
During the 1870s, American trompe l’oeil painting enjoyed a rebirth. Usually seen as trickery, deception, or humor, Dr. Judith Barter’s lecture addresses trompe l’oeil as a type of painting that contained modern ideas. These contain narratives that reflect a new consumer culture, standardization and professionalism, memory and reality, and the very nature of painting itself.