During its 200-year history, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has arguably educated more major artists than any other American school of fine arts, fostering a long line of celebrated teachers and students who have historically preferred to work in traditional, representational styles. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule, as can be seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s new installation entitled The Academy Goes Modern, which opens April 30. This presentation, located in gallery 119 in the American wing, will highlight a variety of paintings by Academy-affiliated artists from a little over the last century.
Among the 25 works on view will be early paintings by Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, and John Sloan. Each studied at the Academy during the last two decades of the 19th century and together formed half of "The Eight," a progressive group of Realist painters known for their gritty depictions of urban life. The Academy Goes Modern also includes work by painters and instructors Arthur B. Carles, Hugh Breckenridge, and Henry McCarter, who laid the groundwork for the future avant-garde by introducing their students to progressive approaches to color and abstraction in painting. Their works, as well as others by one-time Academy students Morton Schamberg and Charles Sheeler, present the rich heritage of American Modernism in Philadelphia. "This installation celebrates the achievements of artistic pioneers who all have roots at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts," says Michael Taylor, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, who organized this presentation. "These artists left a powerful legacy that can still be felt in the work of current Academy faculty and students, who remain dedicated to the possibilities of painting."
About Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
From Cubism and Precisionism, Dada and Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism, the dramatic evolution of art in our time is on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Museum's comprehensive collections of early modern art include celebrated masterpieces such as Pablo Picasso's Self-Portrait (1906), Mademoiselle Yvonne Landsberg (1914) by Henri Matisse, and Fernand Leger's The City (1919) as well as two galleries devoted to unparalleled groups of works by vastly influential figures in modern art: Marcel Duchamp and Constantin Brancusi.
Also showcased in the Modern and Contemporary are early Abstract Expressionist masterpieces by such artists as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock and post-World War II masterworks by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Chuck Close, and Gerhard Richter, who set the stage for changing installations of work by contemporary artists who encourage new understandings of what art can be.