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."
Altoon Sultan blogs about American paintings in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.
Sultan writes: "There is a strain in American painting that takes its essential character from the primitive, from a desire to grasp hold of things, to make them present and tangible. It's a reality that goes beyond the visual to the tactile... [I] was riveted by the colonial era artist John Durand's portrait. The color harmonies were beautiful, but it was the clarity of form that particularly interested me."
Beem writes: "Regarded as the province of vagabonds, prostitutes, witches and feral dogs, Dogtown is just the sort of place that fires the artist's imagination... Hartley's interpretation of Dogtown runs toward the Expressionist take on regionalism that defined his later work, the heaviness of both the Expressionist style and palette and of the Dogtown erratics worked out in bold, black outline. His drawings sketch the scruffy contours of the twisted and torqued landscape with particular attention to local landmarks such as the Whale's Jaw, a split pair of boulders that resemble the maw of a leviathan."
Maine Moderns: Art in Sequinland highlights the importance of Maine in the development of American Modernism. Beem notes that the "Modernists who passed through Seguinland include Max Weber, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Gaston Lachaise, and perhaps most importantly for the history of Maine art, Marguerite and William Zorach."
The Marin exhibition "focus[es] on his late work, paintings in which he translated the dynamic natural forces of Maine's bold coast into increasingly abstract compositions inspired by wind and water, waves, and sunlight."
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.