"As American As. . . ": 100 Works from the Collection of The Parrish Art Museum gives an in-depth look at the Parrish's collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art, examining the distinct movements with a particular focus on the art world of Eastern Long Island. The exhibition is co-organized by the Parrish's Curator of Art Alicia Longwell and Guest Curator Klaus Kertess. With the recent acquisition of an adjoining building and plans for a major expansion to build permanent exhibition space for the Parrish's outstanding collection of American art, this exhibition is presented at a significant juncture in the Parrish's one-hundred-year history.
From the work of an early anonymous portrait painter, to the Hudson River School, to the East Hampton artists such as Thomas Moran and Childe Hassam who early on made the East End a destination for travelers with artistic pursuits, the exhibition first charts the course of art in America in the nineteenth century, culminating with the American Impressionists, including William Merritt Chase, who founded the first plein-air art school in America in Southampton in 1890. His famous painting The Bayberry Bush (c. 1895), which depicts a scene in the Shinnecock Hills with three of his young daughters and in the distance his Stanford White-designed summer home, has become the quintessential emblem of the artistic life of the late nineteenth century.
In the twentieth century, the early Modernists and subsequent waves of European influence, including the Surrealists, who emigrated after the second World War, set the stage for the explosion on the international scene of that distinctly American movement, Abstract Expressionism. Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and the many artists who came to the East End of Long Island beginning in the 1940s and 50s continue the history of American art throughout this fertile period.
The artistic diversity of the East End is further exemplified by the distinguished critic and painter Fairfield Porter, a contemporary of the Abstract Expressionists, who from the 40s to his death in the 70s, lived and worked in Southampton, in the midst of the highly charged milieu of Abstract Expressionism. Nonetheless, Porter maintained a figurative vision, as did other artists like Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz and Jane Wilson, whose works are also included.
Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine and Larry Rivers, those distorting mirrors of modern culture, also lived and worked on the East End, and are included here. In Dine's painting, Little Blue Paleffe (1963), the artist's tool becomes an iconic image.
The exhibition closes with the succeeding generations of leading artists, including Chuck Close, Malcolm Morley and April Gornik, who, with studios on the East End, continue into the next century the tradition of this region as a center for artistic production in the American art world. Close's large scale portrait from the Parrish collection of fellow artist Alex Katz, at once a vivid rendering and an abstracted investigation into process, serves to remind us of the diversity that characterizes artistic practice today.
"As American As. . . ".- 100 Works from the Collection of The Parrish Art Museum presents 70 paintings and works on paper, including 45 works by artists of the East End. The exhibition is made possible in part with generous support from the Cowles Charitable Trust, Mary Ann Tighe and David Hidalgo, Helene and Whitney Stevens, Montague H. Hackett, Jr., and with public support from Suffolk County under the auspices of The Office of Cultural Affairs.
The Parrish Art Museum, housed in an Italianate structure built in 1898, is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation and dissemination of American art and the art of the region. The collection is internationally recognized for its holdings of William Merrift Chase and Fairfield Porter. The Museum presents nationally acclaimed, changing exhibitions and innovative cultural programs, serving as a vital cultural resource for the East End of Long Island and the broader community.