In the 1998-1999 season, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art banged out home runs at the box-office and in the media with its exhibition of Pieter de Hooch, a 17th-century Dutch master often compared with the now-much-revered Vermeer.
De Hooch, lacking name recognition, had been rescued from obscurity by modern art historians and was a solid hit in Hartford.
Like de Hooch, Sweerts has been compared with Vermeer. He is little known to the public but has also been rescued from obscurity by modern scholars. And the Atheneum hopes Hartford will love this resurrected Old Master as much as it did de Hooch, whose show was such a hit that its run was extended two weeks.
More than 30 of Sweerts' finest paintings and all 21 of his known etchings have been assembled from public and private collections in Europe and America for the exhibition, "Michael Sweerts, 1618-1664," which opens Friday and runs through Dec.1.
Co-organized by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Atheneum, the traveling show features masterworks from such prestigious venues as the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Louvre in Paris.
In a second major exhibition sure to draw national attention to its new season, the Atheneum presents the first major retrospective in 20 years on the pioneering, eccentric modernist Marsden Hartley (1877-1943). "Marsden Hartley: American Modernist," which runs from Jan. 17 through April 20, demonstrates the dramatic sweep of Hartley's passionate, varied style, including his powerful landscapes of Maine, the American Southwest, Mexico, France and the Alps.
Watercolors reign supreme at the Yale University museums in downtown New Haven.
At the Yale Center for British Art, you can see the finest of Britain's Romantic watercolor painters in "Romantic Watercolor: The Hickman Bacon Collection," running Oct. 10 through Jan. 5. Selected from the celebrated Bacon family collection, the New Haven exhibition's 82 paintings feature gems by John Robert Cozens, Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner, the greatest master in the head-turning show.
At the Yale University Art Gallery, you can see what watercolor masters have been up to on this side of the Atlantic in "Homer to Hopper: Masters of American Watercolor," which runs from Dec. 3 to June 1. The gallery's fall lineup also includes: "Wood Turning in North America Since 1930" and "Yale Collects Wood: Gifts from the Collection of John and Robyn Horn," both running through Dec. 1.
Don't be fooled by the exhibitions' gratingly wooden titles. Both shows revel in exquisite works in wood, highlighting all sorts of aesthetic twists and turns on everything from bowls and candlesticks to pedestal sculptures conceived as art objects.
In a much hotter, even far knottier subject - at least politically - the Yale Gallery presents Ben Shahn's celebrated portrayal of the explosive trial and execution of two Italian immigrants and anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The events 75 years ago inspired a flood of poetry, music and art protesting that they had been railroaded for their left-wing beliefs.
Shahn's angry, caricature-like images are among the most celebrated of these protests. Quite simply, Shahn viewed the treatment of Sacco and Vanzetti as a modern day crucifixion. "Justice on Trial: Ben Shahn's Case for Sacco and Vanzetti" runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 29.
The New Britain Museum of American Art, which celebrates its centennial in 2003, kicks off its fall season with an exhibition of the celebrated pictograph paintings by Adolph Gottlieb.
Gottlieb took his inspiration for these visceral, mystical works from what used to be called "primitive art." He was fascinated not just by African art, which inspired so much modern art, but also art by Native Americans, the pre-Columbian tribes of Mexico, Central America and South America, as well as the cultures of Oceania and the South Pacific. "The Beginning of Seeing: Adolph Gottlieb and Tribal Art" runs from Oct. 3 through Dec. 29.
The Benton Museum of Art, as part of its ongoing cooperative relationship with the New Britain Museum, presents "American Realism and the New Century: 1900-1930," running from Oct. 26 to Dec. 20 on the University of Connecticut campus at Storrs. Works tapped from the two museum's collections include gritty, realist views of America by such masters of urban-scapes as John Sloan, William Glackens and Robert Henri.
Hartford's Real Art Ways is marking the new season with an expansion and renovation program that includes new space for exhibitions, live music, performance, theater and poetry readings in its new facility called the Real Room. Also, RAW's new Loading Dock Lounge, with an array of audio and visuals, including iPods, will be a cozy, high-tech place for patrons to hang out. And in a third new highlight, RAW's Micro Cinema will be an adaptable venue for multiple video formats, adding further breadth to the art center's cinema program.
All three new resources are to open in November, marked by a series of celebratory events, culminating Nov. 23 in the opening of "This Is Then." The exhibition features works by Richard Harden and Shelburne Thurber.
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