Did you know that the artist known as the father of American landscape painting was born in England? Born in the industrial center of Bolton-le-Moors in 1801, Thomas Cole immigrated to America in 1818. His masterpiece The Hunter’s Return (1845) visually demonstrates the principles of landscape painting he put forth in his artist manifesto “Essay on American Scenery” penned just nine years earlier.
Cole challenged his fellow artists to look around their own backyard and capture the unique beauty of the United States, rather than the European scenes and styles he felt many American artists were then using. He believed that American landscapes should include five crucial elements: wildness, mountains, water, forests, and sky. Can you find them all in The Hunter’s Return?
Besides championing a uniquely American style, Cole also was forward thinking in terms of the environment. After describing the beauty of the American landscape, toward the end of his Essay he remarked
Yet I cannot but express my sorrow that the beauty of such landscapes are quickly passing away---the ravages of the axe are daily increasing---the most noble scenes are made desolate, and oftentimes with a wantonness and barbarism scarcely credible in a civilized nation. The wayside is becoming shadeless, and another generation will behold spots, now rife with beauty, desecrated by what is called improvement; which, as yet, generally destroys Nature’s beauty without substituting that of Art. This is a regret rather than a complaint; such is the road society has to travel; it may lead to refinement in the end, but the traveller who sees the place of rest close at hand, dislikes the road that has so many unnecessary windings.
Look again at The Hunter’s Return. What visual evidence do you think Cole has included to express his concern about westward movement?
Over 150 years later, American artists are still grappling with how the environment is changing. Next time that you’re at the Carter, make sure to visit Cole’s work and tip your hat to this American painting pioneer!
We had many friends–old and new–visit our museum in 2009. Almost 20,000 students had a conversation about great American art in our galleries; about 6,500 visitors stopped by for a docent-led tour of our permanent collection or a visiting exhibition; and over 2,500 visitors enjoyed our five Family Fundays.
We welcomed many a virtual visitor too! Our distance learning program reached over 15,000 students. We now have over 700 Facebook fans, and 2,700 folks follow the museum on Twitter. Our Web site gets hundreds of thousands of hits each year.
All in all, we were busy, and now we’re working on making next year even better. Join us here in Fort Worth or online as the Carter Gets Modern in 2010.
Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889–1953), Milking the Cow, 1922, lithograph
Happy New Year!
Last year the education department introduced over 19,000 students to the Carter’s permanent collection through our school tours program. The Gallery Teachers use an inquiry-based style of teaching which often includes asking students for their initial observations when discussing a specific work of art. One of our favorite paintings to use with student groups is by Georgia O’Keeffe.
We’ve found that the easiest and best way to approach this work of art with students is simply by asking them “What do you think this is?” or “What are you looking at?” We have compiled a list of the most interesting, most creative, and funniest responses below.
Sacks of flour
A bunch of pillows
Brown grocery bags
Couch cushion forts
The back of a picture frame
A sand castle
George Washington’s teeth
A trashcan with a garbage bag coming out of it
Now, it’s your turn”¦what do you see when you look at this painting?
Georgia O’Keeffe, Ranchos Church, New Mexico, 1930/31, oil on canvas, ©Amon Carter Museum.
This Sunday, January 10, from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., is our next Family Funday. The folks from the Noble Planetarium will turn our library into the night sky and art-making activities, poetry, and storytelling will lead you to our galleries. Get bundled up and be ready to check out winter landscapes and night-time adventures at the Carter!
One of my favorite things about the holiday season is making handmade cards. The process begins as early as summer, when I select the perfect papers and start devising that year’s theme. This tradition has now grown into such a production that almost every surface in my home is covered with envelope liners, labels, stamps, and eyelets for the first few weeks of December.
I am not alone in my handmade card fascination. The Smithsonian’s Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture’s current exhibition Season’s Greetings: Holiday Cards from the Archives of American Art showcases a variety of artists’ greetings. If you can’t make the trip to D.C. before the exhibition closes on January 10, you can enjoy thirty-four examples online, including works by artists in the Carter’s collection such as Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, and Werner Dreves.
Haven’t had time to send your own holiday cards this year? The Smithsonian’s site allows you to send a free e-Card of one of the artist’s handmade treasures.
During our November Family Funday, families came from all over the metroplex to participate in multiple activities surrounding the theme Way Out West. Favorite activities included making charm bags and corn husk dolls, and striking silly poses for Shadow Silhouettes, a photography activity.
Children and families also explored the galleries in search of specific works of art and American Indian Storytelling. A fun day was had by all.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Night Visions, our next Family Funday, on Sunday, January 10th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. where you can explore nocturnal works of art, listen to stories and poetry, and make your own evening inspired masterpieces. Family Fundays are free and great for the entire family.
The Carter encourages you to visit our Web site before you visit to learn about our collection as well as exhibits and programming that we hope will be of interest to you.
Our home page is the gateway to all the Carter has to offer. Want to know about what is hanging on the walls? How about going on a tour? Perhaps you want to get your kids ready to come to the museum for a visit? There’s also a way to see some of the art that is not on display at this time.
Starting December 12, 2009, the Carter will display a new acquisition. Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian exhibits this comprehensive collection for the first time. Visit the Library of Congress American Memory page for a great look at this collection online and then come see the real thing in the gallery.
Edward S. Curtis, Yellow Owl, Mandan, Photogravure on vellum, 1908.
One of my favorite artists in the Carter’s collection is innovative printmaker and sculptor Louise Nevelson (1899–1988). Whenever I see one of her imaginative sculptures, it always seems to command attention no matter its size or the other works in the same gallery. Get to know this great American artist a little better and be on the lookout for her work at the Carter and other art museums you visit”¦
Black, white, and gold are the signature colors of Nevelson’s sculptures–colors that transform her found object assemblages from a mixture of items like bedposts and chair seats to masterful displays of pure aesthetic form. She was born in Kiev in 1899 and immigrated to Rockland, Maine, in 1905. She eventually made her way to New York City, where she not only filled her days with creating artworks, but also became a student of modern dance, combining the two in the Carter’s sculpture [Untitled] (ca. 1935), which represents a kneeling dancer engaged in dynamic movement. “Modern dance certainly makes you aware of movement,” Nevelson recalled, “and that moving from the center of the being is where we generate and create our own energy . . . I became aware of every fiber, and it freed me.” Her exploration of motion continued in the Carter’s [Untitled] (ca. 1947), which is designed for each abstract piece to rotate on a central axis (although you must only imagine the movement rather than engage in a hands-on lesson!).
Nevelson is best known for her wall reliefs of all sizes using found objects like the Carter’s Lunar Landscape (1959–60).
She would roam the streets around her New York studio, searching for the perfect items to combine in monochromatic sculptures–recycling long before the term became fashionable! Lunar Landscape, Sky Cathedral, Silent Music IX, America Dawn–her titles reflect her idea that viewers should consider each work’s beauty of form and line instead of trying to determine the identities of the included objects. To me, Nevelson’s works hold appeal because of her creativity and ability to transform a myriad of scavenged objects into a beautiful unified whole. The next time you’re at the Carter head into the galleries and let her sculptures inspire you.
Educators are always welcome at the Carter, but Thursday night will provide a unique oppotunity. It's the annual Evening for Educators in the Cultural District. All of the museums will be free of charge to educators, and their respective education staff will be available to talk about programs and resources available for teachers and students for the coming school year. Bring your teacher friends and spend an evening with us!
Summer is coming to an end, the heat will end soon, and fall is almost here. That might not mean that the leaves will dramatically change color here in north Texas, but it sure means that football season is here! Here's to a great season for all the athletes and their fans.
Helen M. Post (1907--1979)
Phoenix Indian School, Beginning at Football, ca. 1936--1941
Gelatin silver print
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Peter Modley
©Amon Carter Museum