Record Visitor Turnout at Opening of Henry O. Tanner Exhibition at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

  • PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
  • /
  • February 06, 2012

  • Email
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) The Resurrection of Lazarus, 1896. Oil on canvas, 95 x 121.5 cm. Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France, Inv. RF1980-173.
Photo: Herve Lewandoswki: Photo Credit: Reunion des Musees Nationaux / Art Resource, NY


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) saw a record visitor turnout on the opening weekend of Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, a major exhibition of artwork by African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, on view through April 15.

Showcasing the artist s paintings, photographs, sculptures, watercolors, and drawings, Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where the artist studied from 1879 to 1885, and will tour to the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) The Disciples see Christ Walking on the Water, c. 1907. Oil on canvas, 51 x 42 in. Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, Permanent Collections; Gift of the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts.

The exhibition contains over 100 works, including 12 paintings that had never been shown in a Tanner retrospective. It also includes Tanner's famed Resurrection of Lazarus, from the collection of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, a career-making canvas that earned Tanner his first international praise when it was exhibited in 1897 and which had never crossed the Atlantic.

Henry O. Tanner is a transcendent figure both in art and in the history of America," remarks Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. "His compelling story and rich body of work make for a superb national traveling exhibition."

Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit delves into the life and career of Henry O. Tanner from his upbringing in Philadelphia in the years after the Civil War; through the artist s training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; his success as an American artist at the highest levels of the international art world at the turn of the 20th century; his role as an elected leader of an artist s colony in rural France; his unique contributions in aid of servicemen during World War I through the Red Cross in France; his modernist invigoration of religious painting deeply rooted in his own faith; and Tanner s depiction of the Holy Land and North Africa.

"Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit reveals the artist as a talented modern man whose training, intelligence and faith equipped him to surmount the difficult realities of his time and propelled him into a lifetime journey of personal and artistic discovery," says Anna O. Marley, PAFA's Curator of Historical American Art.

The most substantial scholarly catalogue to date on Tanner s life and work accompanies the exhibition. This book includes 14 essays written by established and emerging scholars from the United States and France, published by University of California Press.

Additionally, the first-ever children s book about Henry O. Tanner was published by PAFA and Bunker Hill Press. Written and illustrated by the renowned artist-author Faith Ringgold, this publication will inspire generations of young people through the extraordinary accomplishments of Tanner.

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) Portrait of Booker T. Washington, 1917 Oil on canvas, 31 x 25 5/8 in., State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, IA.

"PAFA is proud to have contributed to Tanner's artistic training, that it maintained a mutually productive relationship with the artist throughout his life, and that we are now able to introduce his inspirational accomplishments to a new generation of viewers," says David R. Brigham, PAFA's President & CEO.

After premiering at PAFA, the show will travel to the Cincinnati Art Museum, from May 26 - September 9, 2012, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, from October 14, 2012 - January 6, 2013. Exciting education and community events will occur at PAFA throughout the run of the exhibition and free Sunday admission is offered while the exhibition is on view.

  • Email

Related Press Releases