Greenwald writes that the show is "drawn almost entirely from the museum’s holdings, displays over 100 paintings, drawings, prints and photographs that exhibition organizers say contain a search for 'American-ness.' ... 'American Landscape,' Sheeler’s iconic canvas, a highlight of this exhibition, is based on the Ford photographs. Here industrial silos, machinery, factory buildings and a smokestack are simplified into crisp geometric shapes while a cloudy sky and rippling river are soft-edged. The only figure in the painting is a tiny worker by the train tracks, easy to miss, making the active plant strangely quiet... Other scenes of an increasingly industrialized American landscape are Edward Hopper’s 'House by the Railroad,' 1925, Charles Burchfield’s gouache 'Railroad Gantry,' 1920, Louis Lozowick’s lithograph, 'Crane,' 1928, and Joseph Stella’s 'Factories,' 1918."
Smith writes: "By chance 'Legends' coincides with the Museum of Modern Art’s sweeping survey 'Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925,' which traces the development of a largely geometric form of abstraction, mostly by European and Russian artists who often worked in closely related styles. In comparison the Whitney’s display might almost have been subtitled 'Inventing American Modernism, One Sensibility at a Time.' The artists here impress you as talented loners working toward diverse and much messier notions of modernity. To be sure, they take tips from European styles, but they also free themselves from such influences with highly personal responses to the sights and subjects specific to this country — the rawness of its landscapes, the tawdriness of its cities, as well as its folk art, social mores and racism. Sometimes they are working toward abstraction, sometimes not."
Jacob Feige writes about discovering a room of Charles Demuth's watercolors at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
Feige writes: "Easily missed and slightly out of place, these small gems of color and bygone entertainment are endearingly awkward, full of a strange anemic energy; they are a rare note of levity in an otherwise fairly stern collection. Nearly a hundred years on, Demuth’s watercolors from this period express gender and sexuality in ways that are now an essential aspect of contemporary art practice. The physicality of bodies, androgyny, and abstraction inform one another as they do in works by Kai Althoff and Leidy Churchman, contemporary artists whose projects take on such issues in direct lineage of Demuth."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.