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Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy

This tour is now fully booked

Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy provides a new perspective on American art by approaching narrative subject matter through the lens of taste as it was defined roughly from 1825 to 1870, when debates over the role of American art addressed not just content, but the role art should take outside of the European tradition. By integrating history, literary and religious subjects with now better-known examples of rural and domestic genre, this exhibition introduces to modern audiences the broad range of styles and narrative themes which appealed to nineteenth-century Americans seeking cultural refinement.
 

William Sidney Mount (1807-1868), Bargaining for a Horse (Farmers Bargaining), 1835. Oil on canvas. New-York Historical Society, Gift of the New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, 1858.59

The exhibition drawn from the New-York Historical Society’s collection of narrative art includes fifty-five works by such canonical artists as Benjamin West, Asher B. Durand, William Sidney Mount, and Eastman Johnson. Additionally, significant works will also be on exhibition by artists who were major figures in their own time (such as Daniel Huntington, Henry Peters Gray and T. H. Matteson), but who have been virtually ignored in current American art surveys. The reintegration of these “forgotten” works into the larger art-historical framework challenges the canon of taste that has elevated genre (i.e., scenes of everyday life) to a privileged position at the expense of other narrative modes (including Stuart and Tudor, Shakespearean, and idealized subjects inspired by European masters).

 

Tour Schedule

Venue Dates
Taft Museum of Art (Cincinnati, OH) September 20, 2013–January 12, 2014
Taubman Museum of Art (Roanoke, VA) February 13, 2014 - May 19, 2014
HOLD October 2015 - January 2015
Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville, TN) February 13, 2015 - May 29, 2015
HOLD September 2015 - December 2015

 

Resources

A fully-illustrated publication published by D. Giles Ltd in association with New-York Historical accompanies the exhibition.

For more information, please e-mail travelingexhibitions@nyhistory.org

Creative: Tronvig Group