Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Acclaimed 'Second Nature' Art Exhibition Continues At Washington College's New Kohl Gallery

Rarely seen works by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro et al. displayed


“The first exhibition at the Kohl Gallery … is striking and wonderful … The work on view in that gallery is in every way interesting and delightful. It is a pleasure for the eye, a feast for the intellect, a wonderful view of the diversity and the humanity of the 19th century.… A great critic … said that in the past there had been an art for the gods, an art for kings and queens and princes, and that finally, in the 19th century, there was an art for mankind, an art of democracy, available to everyone…. landscape painting. I recommend that you rush right over as soon as you can to the Kohl Gallery and see this wonderful and varied show.”

-- Linda Nochlin, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art, Institute of Fine Arts/New York University, contributing editor of Art in America and author of numerous groundbreaking books including Women, Art, and Power and The Politics of Vision


Chestertown – “Second Nature: Masterpieces of 19th-Century Landscape Painting,” featuring seldom-displayed masterworks from some of the major artists of the period, is on view at Washington College’s new Kohl Gallery through November 15.

The exhibition features 23 rarely seen paintings from a private collection, including artworks by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Frederic Edwin Church, Camille Corot, Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas Moran, Alfred Sisley and Thomas Worthington Whittredge.

The new gallery and its opening exhibition have been a hit – there were more than 1,200 visitors in the first week alone.

The masterpieces constitute an auspicious debut for the College’s first-ever climate-controlled, secure exhibition space, the 1,200-square-foot Kohl Gallery, funded by Washington College parents Benjamin and Judy Kohl.

The Kohl Gallery is located in the newly opened Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts, a $24-million renovation and expansion of the original performing arts center built more than 40 years ago.

Sponsored by Brown Advisory, “Second Nature” was curated by Donald McColl, Nancy L. Underwood Chair in Art History, Chair in the Department of Art and Art History and Director of the Kohl Gallery at Washington College.

Dr. McColl was assisted by students in last spring’s Museum Studies class at the College, by Kohl Gallery Interns Colleen Kearins ’09, Erin Harrison ’09, Riley Carbonneau ’10 and Andrea Roth ’11, and by alumni of, and colleagues in, the Department of Art and Art History.

Though its origins are traceable to the Renaissance, landscape painting flourished in the 1800s as never before. Artists, increasingly freed from state or church patronage, catered to a growing system of galleries, dealers and collectors. Landscape, previously considered a minor genre, began to garner new respect, and evolved in tandem with a reverence for natural beauty, and a national pride felt by artists for the sweeping vistas of their respective homelands.

Artists in the exhibition not only documented rare and distant species, and made images so powerful as to spur the formation of America’s first national park, but also helped lift the spirits of those who were too ill to walk in nature, by creating a likeness of a spring flower or a lush field that could well outlast its subject.

Visitors to the “Second Nature” exhibition see stirring examples from landscape painting’s apogee, including such works as Claude Monet’s “Le Val d’Antifer,” Thomas Moran’s “Tantallon Castle,” George Inness’ “Landscape with a Split-Rail Fence” and many others.

“Second Nature: Masterpieces of 19th-Century Landscape Painting” continues at the Kohl Gallery on Tuesdays through Saturdays through November 15. Gallery hours are: Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (The gallery is closed Sundays and Mondays.) A $5 donation is requested. Students are admitted free of charge.

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