Open Roads and Bedside Tables: American Modernism in the Frye Collection

September 26, 2009 – January 10, 2010

Drawn from the Frye’s Permanent Collection, Open Roads and Bedside Tables focuses on American painting from the early twentieth century, when artists turned away from European academic traditions to develop a homegrown view of the world that surrounded them. Responding to industrialization and a growing population, these artists imaged a country that was no longer an undeveloped colony, nor an unwanted offspring of a grand European vision.

The term modernism is used here to describe American artists’ self-conscious break from past artistic traditions to paint subjects in a distinctly American style. In creating and re-interpreting modern scenes, from gritty urban realism to new strains of abstraction and utopian ideals, the artists represented in this exhibition found inspiration in the every day: America’s vast and open roads, lazy afternoons, and private interiors filled with easy chairs and bedside tables. On view are paintings and works on paper by some of America’s best known regionalist and American scene artists including Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Marsden Hartley, and John Sloan.

Open Roads and Bedside Tables: American Modernism in the Frye Collection is curated by Jayme Yahr, Curatorial Intern.

Image Credits:
Rockwell Kent. Resurrection Bay, Alaska (detail), c. 1939. Oil on fabric on board. 28 x 44 1/2 in. Frye Art Museum Purchase, 1998. ©Plattsburgh State Art Museum, Plattsburgh, NY.
Arthur B. Davies. Hills of the Sierras, c. 1910. Oil on canvas. 25 7/8 x 39 7/8 in. Frye Art Museum Purchase, 1962.
Rockwell Kent. Resurrection Bay, Alaska, c. 1939. Oil on fabric on board. 28 x 44 1/2 in. Frye Art Museum Purchase, 1998. ©Plattsburgh State Art Museum, Plattsburgh, NY.
John Sloan. Blue Kimono, 1913. Oil on canvas. 26 x 32 in. Frye Art Museum Purchase, 1964. ©John Sloan/Courtesy of Artists Rights Society.
Edmund Marsden Hartley. Nova Scotia Woman Churning, c. 1938-1939. Oil on board. 35 7/8 x 29 7/8 in. Frye Art Museum Purchase, 1963.

In creating and re-interpreting modern scenes, artists found inspiration in the every day: America’s vast and open roads, lazy afternoons, and private interiors filled with easy chairs and bedside tables.