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American Dreams

BYU exhibit captures New World experience

BYU's Museum of Art will open a new, long-term exhibit Feb. 24 highlighting pieces from the museum's permanent collection.

"American Dreams: Selected Works from the Museum's Permanent Collection of American Art" will be presented on both levels of the museum — located on the school's Provo, Utah, campus — and include prints, sculpture, photography and painting.

Winslow Homer's 1861 wood engraving of New Yorkers skating on a frozen pond in Central Park depicts the nation's optimism of Homer's day.
Winslow Homer's 1861 wood engraving of New Yorkers skating on a frozen pond in Central Park depicts the nation's optimism of Homer's day. Photo: Image courtesy BYU-MOA

The installation of "American Dreams" marks the end of "150 Years of American Painting," an exhibit that has been on view at the museum for the past 11 years. The new exhibit will be divided into three thematic sections — "The Dream of Eden," "American Aspirations," and "Envisioning America."

"If works of art are always shown in the same context, the same environment, they get stale," said Marian Wardle, the museum's curator of American art. "When these works are presented in a new context, a new environment, they take on new meanings. It gives them new life."

"American Dreams" is expected to be on display for five years. Museum visitors will see 165 pieces of art over the show's duration that were not part of the museum's previous permanent installation. After five years, the permanent collection will be re-installed with additional works and a different focus.

The exhibit will include works by Alexander Calder, C.C.A. Christensen, Frederic Edwin Church, Cyrus Dallin, Maynard Dixon, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Minerva Teichert, Andy Warhol, Mahonri Young and many others.

The "Dream of Eden" section includes several landscape paintings and evokes the vision of America as a new Eden. The discovery of the New World awoke such a dream within many Europeans who saw the land as a chance to return to a paradisiacal glory that had been lost to modern society, according to the museum.

"American artists often echo this vision of America in their work," Sister Wardle said. "Some create romanticized landscapes unspoiled by humanity. Other American artists create pastoral scenes that incorporate human and animal life into an idyllic landscape."

"American Aspirations" explores the historic promise of an abundant and comfortable American way of life.

Portraits and still lifes in this section illustrate an American ideal of affluence and ease. The portraits depict individuals at the pinnacle of comfort and culture, members of genteel, upper-class society. Their portraits are visible proof of the realization of the American Dream.

The pieces that make up "Envisioning America" convey multiple visions of the nation as portrayed by American artists. The visions of such American artists is captured via their experiences with the American Civil War, the industrial boom, a period of world wars and subsequent periods.

The BYU Museum of Art is open Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Sunday. Call (801) 422-1140 for additional museum information.

"American Dreams," the upcoming, long-term exhibit at BYU includes a wide variety of art work and styles from American artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maynard Dixon and Frederic Remington -- along with LDS artists C.C.A. Christensen, Minerva Teichert and others.
"American Dreams," the upcoming, long-term exhibit at BYU includes a wide variety of art work and styles from American artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maynard Dixon and Frederic Remington -- along with LDS artists C.C.A. Christensen, Minerva Teichert and others. Photo: Image courtesy BYU-MOA
"American Dreams," the upcoming, long-term exhibit at BYU includes a wide variety of art work and styles from American artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maynard Dixon and Frederic Remington -- along with LDS artists C.C.A. Christensen, Minerva Teichert and others.
"American Dreams," the upcoming, long-term exhibit at BYU includes a wide variety of art work and styles from American artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maynard Dixon and Frederic Remington -- along with LDS artists C.C.A. Christensen, Minerva Teichert and others. Photo: Image courtesy BYU-MOA
K4033T
K4033T Photo: Image courtesy BYU-MOA

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