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Art Review: American Stories: 1800-1950”,
        at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

By Raymond J. Steiner
ART TIMES
Spring 2016

George Inness, American 1825-1894  “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”
George Inness, American 1825-1894
“The Valley of the Shadow of Death”

Visited "American Stories: 1800-1950", Vassar's latest exhibit featuring American art (thru Apr 17, 2016). Gleaned from their vast collection of over 20,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, artifacts, etc., Curator James Mundy, Director of the Anne Hendricks Bass Art Center, has chosen 59 works that he has divided into 3 Sections: People, Places, and Moments. There are some surprises — works by famous artists that have seldom (or never) been seen as well as some by little-known artists that ought to have had more exposure to the public — for example, Louis Remy Mignot whose "A Winter View from Newburgh, 1856" would have graced any of the "Hudson River School" exhibitions that I've seen.

William Hart, American, b. Scotland 1823-1894 “Landscape with Cattle”, 1873,
William Hart, American, b. Scotland 1823-1894
“Landscape with Cattle”, 1873, Oil on canvas
Gift of Robert Edmondson in memory of Mary Dillon Edmonson, class of 1953, and in honor of Josie Edmondson Warfield, class of 1989

Other works in the exhibition that caught my eye were Samuel Colman's "Blooming-Grass Time, 1856", William Hart's "Landscape With Cattle", 1873, and especially the almost overwhelming "The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1867" by George Inness. Its sheer size alone would stop any visitor in his/her tracks, but Inness's power of suggestion in almost indecipherable color and form surely reveals the art of a master. This is one of the most powerfully moving paintings done by Inness that I've seen. Viewers will find some surprising work done by well-know names as well as many that were not as eye-catching. However, if you love landscapes, a side-trip to a gallery across the hall that features some very fine "Hudson River" painters from the Vassar Collection might be well worth your while. In addition to the "American Stories" exhibition, there are several related events upcoming that might entice you to take a trip upstate.

(“American Stories: 1800-1950”, (thru Apr 17, 2016). The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY (845) 437-5632. www.vassar.edu.)

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