American Realism - Edward Hopper
A banner featuring Edward Hopper’s “Morning Sun” (1952, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio) adorns the Drents Museum.

An exclusive excerpt from the March/April 2018 issue of Fine Art Connoisseur (subscribe here).

Readers of Fine Art Connoisseur already know that realist art never died in twentieth-century America, though it certainly came close to doing so during abstract expressionism’s heyday in the 1950s. The survival and evolution of American realism since World War II are, however, not a familiar story in Western Europe. There, even artworks by American realists as famous as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth are surprisingly hard to find because European museums have somehow not acquired them.

Ralph Goings (b. 1928), “A1 Sauce,” 1995, oil on canvas, 28 x 32 in., Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT

This gap has recently been tackled head-on by two energetic partners: the Drents Museum in Assen, a town of 60,000 people in the northeast of the Netherlands, and the Kunsthalle Emden in Emden, a German town of 52,000 in northwestern Germany. Located just over an hour’s drive apart, the institutions came together several years ago to begin co-organizing the exhibition The American Dream: American Realism 1945–2017.

Yvonne Jacquette (b. 1934), “Chrysler Building Composite at Dusk,” 1997, oil on canvas, 75 x 86 in., Rose and Morton Landowne, New York

In a spirit of collegiality that has characterized the entire project, they decided to split the checklist of artworks in two: most dating from 1945 to 1965 went to Assen, and later works to Emden. The grand total is just over 220, in every possible medium including photography and video. Both halves have been on view since November 2017, and will remain so until May 27, 2018. All visitors are encouraged to see both presentations, so a joint ticket is sold to make achieving this goal easier. (The second half of the ticket can be used anytime before May 27; one does not need to see both halves on the same day.)

Max Ferguson (b. 1959) and his model Luara Skrzek before Ferguson’s “Coffee,” 2015, oil on panel, 27 x 27 in., Seavest Collection, Rick and Monica Segal; photo: Frank Bernarducci

Ironically, Americans who love their own country’s realist art may find this foreign survey more revealing than any such show they might have seen in the U.S. Indeed, one reason the two museums took on the project at all is because it has not been done properly in America — yet. (Continue reading in the March/April issue of Fine Art Connoisseur)

For more details on the fine art exhibition “The American Dream: American Realism 1945–2017,” visit https://www.visittheamericandream.nl.


This article originally appeared in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine (subscribe here).

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