Art in Mid-Century Modern Louisville, Kentucky

  • LOUISVILLE, Kentucky
  • /
  • April 09, 2019

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Hite Art Institute

“Louisville Modern: an era in art,” the just-published book from PFA Press, tells the story of the art scene in the Louisville area from the 1940s through the 1960s. It is both a personal story and an art-historical overview of a period that many categorize now as Mid-century Modern.


The era saw developments in architecture, graphics, furniture, interior design and more. And it was a time when Modernism, an art movement some date in the United States from the 1913 “Armory Show” in New York City, came to the fore.


“Louisville Modern” begins with the personal story of Madeline Covi, who experienced that scene firsthand. She entered the University of Louisville in the ‘40s and was the art librarian at the Hite Art Institute there from 1952 to 1957. Her marriage to professor Dario Covi in 1960 brought her into the art and academic world even more. Her essay is followed by biographies of some of the artists who played major roles in Louisville art then, especially at the Hite and the Art Center, some of whom are still active.


Art critic Sarah Lansdell called the mid-20th century a landmark for regional art on both sides of the Ohio River. It was an interesting period. The art community was made up of woman’s club members, so-called society matrons, “Sunday painters,” housewives, commercial artists, university kids and their teachers, African Americans, GI Bill veterans and refugees from German oppression. It was a story that needed telling.



Payne Fine Arts
(502) 459-8461
About Payne Fine Arts

Payne Fine Arts specializes in the art of our shared past, with an emphasis on artists working in Kentucky, Southern Indiana, the Ohio River Valley and the Deep South. Our inventory also includes works on paper from France, Britain and the United States produced in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The latter includes etchings by the Barbizon painter-etchers, Whistler, Haden, Tissot, the Morans and many others.

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