On the heels of a hugely popular Norman Rockwell exhibition, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is showcasing two new temporary exhibitions featuring American genre painting.
More than 65,000 visitors trekked to the museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, to view Rockwell's beloved scenes of 20th century American life. Now genre painting—scenes of everyday life—from the mid-19th century takes center stage in two exhibitions which opened on May 11.
Genre paintings helped to express a distinctly “American” character, often through the exploration of racial, regional, or class differences.
American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life, is the second exhibition in a four-year partnership between Crystal Bridges; the musée du Louvre in Paris; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA; and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The second exhibition: American Experience: Genre Scenes on Paper from Crystal Bridges’ Permanent Collection, features never-before-exhibited watercolors and drawings from the museum’s collection.
Five paintings by the likes of George Caleb Bingham, Eastman Johnson, and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait — American painters whose works illustrate three very different cultural experiences within the greater context of the United States — are featured in American Encounters. These are exhibited alongside two paintings from the Louvre that present the Dutch and English schools which helped to inspire American genre artists.
American Experience is comprised of watercolors and drawings from the Crystal Bridges permanent collection highlights the richness and variety of the American experience in the 19th century. The exhibition addresses themes of work and leisure in the city and country, and features a diverse group of artists, including several represented by paintings in the collection: Winslow Homer, Thomas Waterman Wood, and John Lewis Krimmel. Because they are on paper, these works can only be displayed for short, infrequent periods of time, presenting a rare opportunity to see a side of Crystal Bridges’ growing collection.
Both exhibitions will be on view through Aug. 12. There is no fee and no tickets are required to view these exhibitions.