Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

Georgia Museum of Art to show masterworks spanning 200 years of American art

Picturing America Maid of the Hills-v
Maid of the Hills (ca. 1900) by John George Brown is part of the "Picturing America" exhibition.

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will feature the exhibition “Picturing America: Signature Works from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art” June 14 to Aug. 24. Organized by the Westmoreland Museum, the exhibition features 56 works spanning 200 years of American art and charting the country’s emergence as a cultural capital of the world.

“We are excited to host this exhibition of masterworks by seminal American artists,” said Laura Valeri, in-house curator of the exhibition and associate curator of European art at the Georgia Museum of Art. “The exhibition brings together beautiful works of American painting and sculpture from colonial times to the mid-20th century with particular focus on portraiture, landscape and still-life.”

The exhibition features oil and tempera paintings and bronze sculptures by artists ranging from Charles Willson Peale to Mary Cassatt, Robert Henri and Harriet Frishmuth.

Bucolic landscape paintings by George Hetzel, a Pennsylvania artist, and his fellow artists in the Scalp Level school, serve as counterpoints to works depicting the Big Steel Era of Pittsburgh, illustrating the transformation of the American landscape from an agrarian society to an industrial one. The exhibition also features works by members of Thomas Cole’s Hudson River school and examines portraiture as a consistently respected and evolving form of American art. The range of portrait artists highlights the evolution from highly detailed portraits to impressionistic portrayals of sitters to modernist and masklike portraits. Still-life art similarly shifts from a focus on trompe l’oeil to a more modern approach.

Valeri added that she hopes to eliminate labels on the gallery walls for this exhibition in favor of using iPads, which visitors can check out for free from the security guards. This approach should minimize distractions from the works of art and increase accessibility, as visitors with visual impairments should be able to increase the font size to make reading the text easier.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania is the largest repository of southwestern Pennsylvania art in the country. It holds many works by our country’s early artists including John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West. This exhibition comes to the Georgia Museum of Art while the Westmoreland undergoes renovations.

Associated events include 90 Carlton: Summer, the museum’s quarterly reception, on June 13 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The event, which is $5 or free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, will have gallery talks, refreshments and music. It will preview “Picturing America” and celebrate the museum’s other summer exhibitions and. Other events, which are free and open to the public, include Family Day: Picturing America (July 19, 10 a.m.-noon); a film series consisting of John Ford’s “Young Mr. Lincoln” (July 10, 7 p.m.), Paul Robeson’s “Native Land” (July 17, 7 p.m.) and Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times (July 31, 7 p.m.); an Artful Conversation with curator of education Carissa DiCindio (Aug. 13, 2 p.m.); a Tour at Two with Valeri (Aug. 20, 2 p.m.); and Teen Studio with local artist Hope Hilton (Aug. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m.).

The exhibition is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Museum Information
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton St., University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6719. For more information, including hours, see or call 706-542-4662.