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!
Our Photo of the Week is drawn from the Carter’s collection of over 100 works by 19th century photographer Carleton Watkins. This albumen silver print, Commencement of the Whitney Glacier, Summit of Mt. Shasta, is currently on loan to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, California, for their exhibition The Art of Mount Shasta.
Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), Commencement of the Whitney Glacier, Summit of Mt. Shasta, 1870, albumen silver print ca. 1876
The Whitney Glacier is one of seven glaciers found on Mount Shasta, which is located in northern California near the Oregon border. While 90% of the world’s glacier’s are shrinking, the Whitney Glacier is of special interest today because it is one of very few glaciers in the world actually growing as a result of global warming. Apparently warming of the Pacific Ocean has caused increased snowfall in northern California, accounting for 30% growth of the Whitney Glacier in the past 50 years.
Commencement of the Whitney Glacier, Summit of Mt. Shasta is on view at Turtle Bay Exploration Park through May 3, 2010.
I saw the city bus decorated with the Carter's painting, Wrapped Oranges again this morning on my way to work. I snapped a quick shot of it with my phone as it came through the Camp Bowie/Montgomery intersection right by the museum:
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.
If you've driven anywhere near the Cultural District lately, you've probably noticed that midway rides and legions of horse trailers have once again descended upon Fort Worth for the Stock Show, which opens this Friday. This week I'm sharing a few historical Stock Show photographs from the Carter's Erwin E. Smith archive. These images date back to the mid-1920s, when the Stock Show was still held in the stockyards and the world's first indoor rodeo was held in the arena now known as Cowtown Coliseum (the event was moved to the west side of town in the 1940s).
Erwin E. Smith, A group of rodeo officials standing in front of the General Offices of the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in Fort Worth, Texas, 1925-1940, gelatin dry plate negative, Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress on Deposit at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Erwin E. Smith, [Rodeo grand entry, Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show Rodeo, Fort Worth, Texas], glass plate negative, ca. 1925-1926, Bequest of Mary Alice Pettis
Erwin E. Smith, Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show Rodeo, Fort Worth, Texas, glass plate negative, ca. 1925-1926, Bequest of Mary Alice Pettis
Erwin E. Smith, Riding a tough one, [Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show Rodeo, Fort Worth, Texas] , gelatin dry plate negative, ca. 1925-1926, Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress on Deposit at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Erwin E. Smith, A rodeo performer throwing a loop over a horse and rider as they race by him, [Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show Rodeo, Fort Worth, Texas] , gelatin dry plate negative. ca. 1925-1926, Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress on Deposit at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Yesterday the library received a new exquisite publication, The Feel of Steel. Published in a small print run of 150 copies, this limited edition book focuses on the history of steel-engraved banknotes in the United States. Engraving is a form of intaglio printing whereby a design is carved into a metal plate. The carved lines are forced full of ink, then the plate is pressed onto a sheet of paper under high pressure, and the inked designed is transferred to the sheet. The "feel of steel" in the title refers to the tactile quality of the ink as it rests on the printed sheet. Our current paper currency still exhibits this quality.
The book notes the difference between letterpress, or relief, printing and intaglio:
The creation of high-quality intaglio work is a far more demanding discipline than letterpress printing ... The training of picture engravers was a long process. Intaglio was a much slower and more costly process, but it produced magnificent images that could be achieved in no other way.
Banknote engraving employed some of the most accomplished artists in the country, and the author considers the art the "pinnacle of printing and the graphic arts" in America. While providing a detailed history of banknote printing, including technical discussion, it also includes some fine examples of engraved prints. Many of these original prints were printed from original banknote plates. The attached prospectus provides an overview of the book.
The museum has many examples of engravings in its collections, both in the fine prints and library book collections. Make plans to view this book and other books with engraved illustrations by visiting the library during public hours.
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!
Over the past several months, you may have noticed that the Carter's building and grounds undergoing maintenance in preparation for the museum's 50th anniversary next year. All the activity going on around the building inspired this week's post, which draws from the Carter's collection of construction photographs by Charles Rivers (1904-1993).
Born in Greece, Rivers was a construction worker, union organizer, political activist, and photographer, who also worked on the construction of both the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building 1929-1930. Rivers led an incredibly full and varied life, and a full bio is available from NYU, which holds his personal archive.
Charles Rivers, Shadow of the Chrysler over the Graybar Building while a Load of Steel is Being Relayed from Derrick to Derrick to Reach the Floor where It is to Be Erected into Place, gelatin silver print, 1929, Gift of the artist, © Charles Rivers
Charles Rivers, Repairing the Derrick on the Chrysler Building, gelatin silver print, 1929, Gift of the artist, © Charles Rivers
Charles Rivers, The Bolter Up – Empire State Building [Self-portrait], gelatin silver print, 1930, Gift of the artist, © Charles Rivers