At the Risk of the Sun
Oil on canvas (1949)
"Strange, organic forms appear in this dramatically illuminated, desolate landscape. A heart form can be seen on the right. To the left is an imaginative array of stacked shapes, referencing parts of human and animal bodies. Yves Tanguy and other Surrealist artists sought to reveal the contents of the unconscious mind. Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories, they depicted images from their dreams, nightmares, and memories. Tanguy based this image on the prehistoric stone monuments he saw as a child in Brittany, France."
Arthur Garfield Dove
American – 1934
Oil on canvas
'Arthur Dove's Tree suggests the restless energy and restorative powers of nature. Comprised of undulating, organic forms and an earthy palette of browns and tans, the painting features a large tree limb stretching across the composition and silhouetted against paler, flamelike shapes. These integrated forms suggest the strong, interconnected elements of nature. The composition's horizontality links the painting discreetly to the traditional landscape painting.
Rooting his art deeply in the natural world, Dove was a pioneer in abstraction. He created his earliest abstract compositions in the 1910s, and his efforts were supported by New York-based photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz. A major proponent of modernism in America, Stieglitz also promoted the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, among others.'
After the Rain in the Salt Marshes
Martin Johnson Heade
Oil on canvas
'Martin Johnson Heade was best known in his lifetime, as today, for his marsh paintings, a subject he first undertook in the 1860s. Although Heade painted marshes in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida, he captured the overall character of marsh life, rather than recalling specific locales. After the Rain in the Salt Marshes incorporates hallmarks of Heade's marsh compositions: a strongly horizontal view of the landscape, cut by a winding ribbon of water and dotted with haystacks receding into the distance. Heade also often added strong directional light effects to create dynamic patterns of shadows that animate the otherwise calm scene.'
Pavonia-Jersey City (1928)
Oil on canvas
'Reginald Marsh's Pavonia-Jersey City shows casual activity in an industrial district in New Jersey. An attractive woman strides along the sidewalk of Pavonia Avenue and catches the attention of two men. Her allure is suggested by not only their gawking, but also the locomotive's whistling smokestack. Her rich red dress and position at the corner of the composition, where the entire weight of its design accumulates, ensure that she is the painting's primary focus.
Born in Paris, Marsh began his career in magazine illustration and worked among the initial staff of The New Yorker. A train enthusiast, the painter often crossed the Hudson River from his Manhattan studio to Jersey City, which had served as a transportation hub since the 19th century.'
Landscape, Welch Mountain (1863)
Asher B. Durand
Oil on canvas
Asher B. Durand evoked the philosophical idea of the Beautiful in the harmony, serenity and loveliness of this pastoral landscape of Welch Mountain, New Hampshire. He achieved these qualities by depicting the foreground with a fine brush to give remarkable detail, rendering the middle ground more sketchily and incorporating a number of flat, broadly painted areas of soft lavenders and blues in the background. Bright light and shadow play across the entire view, which is enveloped in a hazy atmosphere.
A successful engraver, Durand did not turn to painting as a career until he was 40. After Thomas Cole's death in 1848, he became the acknowledged leader of the group of American landscape painters commonly called the Hudson River School.
Mrs. Cecil Wade (1886)
John Singer Sargent
Oil on canvas
John Singer Sargent's Mrs. Cecil Wade shows the 23-year-old wife of an English stockbroker occupying the spacious drawing room of her luxurious London townhome. Sitting stiffly on a settee, she projects a refined, austere presence. Her chiseled profile suggests reserve as well as elevated social status. Conditioned by contemporary French and 17th-century Spanish painting techniques, Sargent's talented brush impressively evokes a range of lighting effects and textures, including fine satin, polished wood and sheer curtains.
Mrs. Cecil Wade was among Sargent's first significant commissions upon relocating to London from Paris in 1886. His move was prompted by a scandal involving his sensuous Madame X (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), which had recently offended Parisian audiences and had temporarily undermined his market there.
Pueblo Tesuque, No. 2 (1917)
George Wesley Bellows
Oil on canvas, mounted on plywood
George Bellows spent the summer of 1917 mainly in California on a break from his teaching at New York's Art Students League. Pueblo Tesuque, No. 2 was painted on his return trip, when he visited in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Tesuque Pueblo, near Santa Fe, offered Bellows the perfect opportunity to paint the Southwestern scenery and American Indian subjects that were increasingly popular around World War I. Bellows' composition depicts the daily life of the pueblo and includes its white adobe church on the left. A man dressed for the Green Corn dance, an annual rite of renewal prior to the corn harvest, adds an exotic air to the scene as does the highly keyed palette of purple, red-orange, green and blue.