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Two New Exhibitions Open June 29 at Crystal Bridges

  • June 20, 2013 20:16

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Abbott Handerson Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil on canvas; 36 1/4x 28 3/8 inches, 1929.6.112. Gift of John Gellatly. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

June 29 marks the opening of two new exhibitions at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. A traveling exhibition, Angels and Tomboys: Girlhood in Nineteenth-Century American Art explores the myriad ways artists portrayed young girls: from the sentimental, innocent stereotype to the free-spirited individual.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the American girl seemed transformed—at once more introspective and adventurous than the previous generation. Although the culture still prized the demure female child of the past, many saw a bolder type as the new, alternate ideal. Girlhood was no longer simple, and the complementary images of angel and tomboy emerged as competing visions of this new generation. For the first time, girls claimed the attention of genre artists, and girlhood itself seized the imagination of the nation. 

Organzied by the Newark Museum, the exhibition includes approximately 72 masterworks, including paintings, sculpture, prints, and photographs. Works by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins, together with those by leading women artists, such as Cecilia Beaux and Mary Cassatt, reveal a new, provocative psychological element not found in early Victorian portraiture. The mischievous tomboys in Lilly Martin Spencer’s paintings and the pure angels in the works of Abbot Handerson Thayer underscore the complexity of girlhood. This exhibition is an illuminating exploration of what it meant to be young, female, and American in the nineteenth century.

Surveying George Washington features an assortment of documents written by Washington himself, or by contemporaries who knew him, on loan from the Harlan Crow Library, Dallas, TX. The aim is to provide a look at Washington that offers insight into his life as a real person, not just a historical figure. No special tickets are required, and there is no admission fee to view Surveying George Washington. Space is limited in the exhibition area, and admission is first-come, first-served. 

Visit the calendar on Crystal Bridges’ website: http://calendar.crystalbridges.org/.

Tags: American art

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