Art News

The Nelson-Atkins Museum Presents George Ault and 1940’s America

artwork: George Ault - "Memories of the Coast of France", 1944 - Oil on canvas - Collection of Manhattan Art Investments, LP. On view at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO in "To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America" from October 15th until January 8th 2012.

Kansas City, MO.- The Nelson-Atkins Museum is proud to present the travelling exhibition “To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America”, on view at the museum from October 15th through January 8th 2012. During the turbulent 1940s, George Ault (1891-1948) created precise yet eerie pictures that have come to be seen as some of the most original paintings made in America in those years. The beautiful geometries of Ault’s paintings make personal worlds of clarity and composure to offset a real world he felt was in crisis.

“To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America” recreates a moment when the country was rendered fragile by the Great Depression and made anxious by World War II. Although much has been written about the glorious triumph of the war, memories of the anxious mood of life on the home front—a place far from the battlefields and yet profoundly at risk—have dimmed. To Make a World sheds light on these memories and makes them newly relevant today. The first major exhibition of Ault’s art in more than 20 years, “To Make a World” includes paintings, drawings, and prints by Ault and his like-minded contemporaries. The additional 22 artists represented in this exhibition include some as celebrated as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, while others such as Edward Biberman and Dede Plummer are less widely known. Taken together, their art reveals an aesthetic vein running through 1940s American art not previously explored. Alexander Nemerov, the Vincent Scully Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, curated the exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

artwork: Peter Hurd - "Enemy Action Over American Bomber Station", 1942 - Tempera on board - Army Art Collection Washington, D.C. On view at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO from October 15th until January 8th 2012.

When the massive Beaux Art Nelson-Atkins’ Building opened in 1933, newspapers nationwide reported visitors “amazed,” “gasping at its innovations and marveling at its luxury.”  Still, times being what they were in the Great Depression, operations were modest: only three telephones serviced the entire building; lights in the galleries were turned off when people left a room; at opening and closing times, a huge bell was rung manually. Though the Museum has grown its collection, its audience (and its telephones), just as in 1933, bringing people together with art is central to all current Museum endeavors. And that goes for the major campus transformation project, the new Bloch Building as its jewel. The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access and insight into its renowned collection of more than 33,500 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region.

The institution-wide transformation of the Nelson-Atkins has included the 165,000-square-foot Bloch Building expansion and renovation of the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building. The museum’s European painting collection is also highly-prized. It include works by Caravaggio, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Petrus Christus, El Greco, Guercino, Alessandro Magnasco, Giuseppe Bazzani, Corrado Giaquinto, Cavaliere d’Arpino, Gaspare Traversi, Giuliano Bugiardini, Titian, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens, as well as Impressionists Gustave Caillebotte, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh, among others. It also has fine Late Gothic and Early Italian Renaissance paintings by; Jacopo del Casentino (The Presentation of Christ in the Temple), Giovanni di Paolo and Workshop, Bernardo Daddi and Workshop, Lorenzo Monaco, Gherardo Starnina (The Adoration of the Magi), and Lorenzo di Credi. It has German and Austrian Expressionist paintings by Max Beckmann, Karl Hofer (Record Player), Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Oskar Kokoschka (Pyramids of Egypt). The museum is distinguished (and widely celebrated) for its extensive collection of Asian art, especially that of Imperial China. Most of it was purchased for the museum in the early 20th century by Laurence Sickman, then a Harvard fellow in China. The museum has one of the best collections of Chinese antique furniture in the country. In addition to Chinese art, the collection includes pieces from Japan, India, Iran, Indonesia, Korea, and Southeast, and South Asia.

artwork: George Ault - "Old House, New Moon", 1943 - Oil on canvas - 51.1 x 71.1 cm. Collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. On view at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, on show in "To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America" until January 8th 2012.

The American painting collection includes the largest collection open to the public of works by Thomas Hart Benton, who lived in Kansas City. Among its collection are masterpieces by George Bellows, George Caleb Bingham, Frederic Church, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and John Singer Sargent. It also has fine Contemporary Paintings and Creations in the Bloch Building by; Willem de Kooning, Fairfield Porter (“Mirror”), Wayne Thiebaud (“Bikini Girl”), Richard Diebenkorn, Agnes Martin, Bridget Riley, and Alfred Jensen. In 2006, Hallmark Cards chairman Donald J. Hall, Sr., donated to the museum the entire Hallmark Photographic Collection, spanning the history of photography from 1839 to the present day. It is primarily American in focus, and includes works from photographers such as Southworth & Hawes, Carleton Watkins, Timothy O’Sullivan, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, Homer Page, Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander, Andy Warhol, Todd Webb, and Cindy Sherman, among others. Outside on the museum’s immense lawn, the Kansas City Sculpture Park contains the largest collection of monumental bronzes by Henry Moore in the United States. The park also includes works by Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin, George Segal and Mark di Suvero, among others. Beyond these, the park (and the museum itself) is well known for Shuttlecocks, a four-part outdoor sculpture of oversize badminton shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. In addition, the museum also has collections of European and American sculpture, decorative arts and works on paper, Egyptian art, Greek and Roman art, modern and contemporary paintings and sculpture, pre-Columbian art, and the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. As well, the museum houses a major collection of English pottery and another of miniature paintings. Visit the museum’s website at …