Making a permanent impression since 1994
December 1, 2003
American art: weird, wild, wonderful
By Joe Keo and Katie Jordan
aside that American history textbook and experience the nation’s past
New Britain Museum of American Art is the perfect place to start. American
expressed in the museum’s collection, and visitors will see every aspect
of the national
from the weird to the wild.
in colonial times, untrained folk artists painted flat and pale portraits
of wealthy and educated Americans. The aristocrats posed stiffly and
looked moody. Baby faces resembled those of middle-aged men — imagine
someone’s father wearing a bib (talk about creepy). These artists could
have used some art classes.
on through the museum’s corridors, painter Winslow Homer’s Skirmish
in the Wilderness recreates
a scene out of the Civil War.
painting is almost completely dark, except for a few soldiers standing in
a spot of light. The darkness surrounding them conceals lurking enemies
— with every moment spent gazing into the forest, the enemy force seems
to grow as more and more hidden soldiers are found.
image is so exciting and action-packed that it sends chills down the
world of American impressionism is well-represented in the museum, with
works by Mary Cassatt and Childe Hassam. Their visible brushstrokes and
cool color schemes will put onlookers right into the painted fields and
everyday American lives depicted on the canvas.
wasn’t always popular.
paintings and other unconventional pieces were initially assailed by art
critics even dubbed some styles of art “ash can” because they thought
the crazy new style was nothing but worthless trash.
pieces of so-called “trash” eventually became well-respected and
legitimate works of art, which now hang in a room at the
treasure chest of unique art includes pointillism, comic-style pieces and
anything else that was unconventional at the time.
history progressed, so did the variety of the museum’s collection.
Traditional American art evolved into some of the country’s wildest
displays of contemporary work.
always the strange and intriguing that reels in the visitors.
knows of Jackson Pollock’s famous splatter paintings. You would swear
someone just went nuts and dripped cans of different colored paints onto a
canvas — which is basically what he did.
the New Britian museum, visitors can see Yielding,
splatter painting by artist Sam Francis.
artist Sol LeWitt’s work hangs in a nearby gallery. Geometric,
symmetric, and eccentric all describe his style.
himself didn’t actually create these pieces — just the ideas behind
them. He wrote up directions for each piece, and whoever bought the art
was really buying the directions to create it. The buyer had to put it
20th century gallery is bursting with all kinds of intriguing art — and
there’s no art more intriguing than surrealism. This style is an
exciting, sometimes unsettling, peek into the world of the bizarre minds
of Avila is
a sort of fantasy landscape almost entirely devoted to huge, unrealistic,
cartoon-like rocks, above which swirls a purple-blue sky.
George Tooker’s Birdwatchers,
the artist poses a group of bird watchers reverently beneath a tree, in an
artistic parody of religious paintings. The somewhat comic piece is also
disturbing because all of the 12 men and women in the painting have the
that, you think you’ve seen it all.
awhile the definition of art seems to break all boundaries.
maybe it’s not that the creators and lovers of contemporary art see art
where it doesn’t exist — maybe some people are overlooking art where
it does exist.
art is everywhere. It all depends on how you look at it.
Just like history, art is open to interpretation.
|© 2003 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.|