Scenic Impressions
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235 pages

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The radical changes wrought by the rise of the salon system in nineteenth-century Europe provoked an interesting response from painters in the American South. Painterly trends emanating from Barbizon and Giverny emphasized the subtle textures of nature through warm color and broken brush stroke. Artists' subject matter tended to represent a prosperous middle class at play, with the subtle suggestion that painting was indeed art for art's sake and not an evocation of the heroic manner. Many painters in the South took up the stylistics of Tonalism, Impressionism, and naturalism to create works of a very evocative nature, works which celebrated the Southern scene as an exotic other, a locale offering refuge from an increasingly mechanized urban environment.

Scenic Impressions offers an insight into a particular period of American art history as borne out in seminal paintings from the holdings of the Johnson Collection of Spartanburg, South Carolina. By consolidating academic information on a disparate group of objects under a common theme and important global artistic umbrella, Scenic Impressions will underscore the Johnsons' commitment to illuminating the rich cultural history of the American South and advancing scholarship in the field, specifically examining some forty paintings created between 1880 and 1940, including landscapes and genre scenes. A foreword, written by Kevin Sharp, director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee, introduces the topic. Two lead essays, written by noted art historians Estill Curtis Pennington and Martha R. Severens, discuss the history and import of the Impressionist movement—abroad and domestically—and specifically address the school's influence on art created in and about the American South. The featured works of art are presented in full color plates and delineated in complementary entries written by Pennington and Severens. Also included are detailed artist biographies illustrated by photographs of the artists, extensive documentation, and indices.

Featured artists include Wayman Adams, Colin Campbell Cooper, Elliott Daingerfield, G. Ruger Donoho, Harvey Joiner, John Ross Key, Blondelle Malone, Lawrence Mazzanovich, Paul Plaschke, Hattie Saussy, Alice Ravenel, Huger Smith, Anthony Thieme, and Helen Turner.



Publié par
Date de parution 16 décembre 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611177176
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 12 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


The Johnson Collection, LLC, 2015
The Johnson Collection
PO Box 3524, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29304-3524
David Henderson, Director
Sarah Tignor, Collection Manager Registrar
Lynne Blackman, Public Relations Publications Coordinator
Aimee Wise, Collection Assistant
Holly Watters, Collection Assistant
All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all images are property of the Johnson Collection, LLC.
Copublished in partnership with the University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina 29208.
Editor: Lynne Blackman
Photography: Carroll Foster, Hot Eye Photography, Spartanburg, South Carolina; Tim Barnwell Photography, Asheville,
North Carolina; Rick Phodes Photography and Imaging, LLC, Charleston, South Carolina
Design: Gee Creative, Charleston, South Carolina
Production: Printed in Canada by Friesens
ISBN 978-1-61117-675-9
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at
This volume accompanies the exhibition of the same title. Exhibition venues include:
Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee
Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia
Frontispiece: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876-1958), Swamp Scene , watercolor on paper, 21 x 11 inches (detail).
Cover: Hattie Saussy (1890-1978), Path with Mossy Trees , oil on canvas mounted on masonite, 18 x 26 inches (detail).
ISBN 978-1-61117-717-6 (ebook)

Lawrence Mazzanovich (1871-1959), Smoky Mountains, oil on canvas, 25 x 25 inches (detail).
IN THIS DAY OF THE EVER-PRESENT CELL PHONE CAMERA, IT MIGHT BE difficult to imagine the efforts that artists once made to record a memorable view for posterity. Preparation required far more than the overnight charging of a battery or the availability of GPS monitoring. Travel was arduous and conveniences were limited, as was a reliable clientele or lucrative commercial infrastructure, especially for painters working in the South. No, the artists presented in this study invested considerable intention to the discovery and delineation of places of particular beauty. Whether the setting was extraordinary or everyday, artists hoping to capture the moment went to great lengths to provide their patrons with scenic impressions that transcribed venue, color, and mood. The experience was a physical and tactile one, and the connection between artist and locale deeply felt. The best paintings reflect such synergy and reward the effort.
Intention, location, connection, and synergy have been driving forces in the establishment of the Johnson Collection as well. In just over thirteen years, what began as aesthetic experiment has evolved into cultural statement. To amass a collection (of any sort, really) according to well-defined parameters is fairly straightforward; it can be, at its most fundamental level, purely transactional. What sets meaningful and significant collections apart is effort: the willingness to dig deeper, to discern carefully, and to never settle. A command of the history in question is important, but personal resonance with that history is indispensable, even for a transplanted Canadian like me. In guiding the collection s acquisitions, my understanding of market conditions has been imperative, but so has the awareness that true value is often determined by far less tangible measurements than price-per-square-inch calculations and sales records. The Johnson family s vision, and fidelity to that vision, is more critical to the collection s vitality than their endowment. That they have allowed me to pursue my passion for Southern art in the collection s name has been a privilege. It has given me a proverbial second act rich with revelation and joy.
As the collection evolves, developing nuance and depth, it remains true to its original mission to advance the narrative of Southern art within the national cultural context. Scholarship on the subject is paramount, as evidenced by this, our third volume in as many years. We will continue to interpret the South and champion the cause with an eye toward making an ever clearer impression on the field of American art.
I REMEMBER A TIME WHEN WE ALMOST NEVER DISCUSSED AMERICAN Impressionist painting. The French inventors of the movement, style, and technique (or whatever it was) were so much riper in their way; their pictures just had more air in their lungs, as I heard one colleague describe the difference years ago, and I agreed. At the time, we were not entirely sure what American Impressionism was-or even if such a thing truthfully existed. When we finally did start talking about American painters of the Impressionist era-neatly avoiding the term American Impressionism, which we distrusted-they were typically the grand expatriates. We sought American artists who had opened studios or planted easels alongside their counterparts in England, Holland, or (of course) France, and had the good sense to remain there. We discussed this mere handful of painters for the longest time, and in nothing less than excruciating detail. Actually, we are still discussing them. It was only later-much later, in fact-that we became interested in the (so-called) American Impressionists, who lived their lives and managed their careers within the boundaries of the United States. We preferred them to have made at least one extended trip to Paris, or to Giverny, or both. And we were only willing to seriously consider artists who after returning from their French sojourns established themselves in New York studios or with notable Manhattan galleries, clubs, or institutions. Granted, we eventually came around to Philadelphia, Boston, and much of New England as well, but there we had to draw the line.
From the massive and magisterial book, American Impressionism (1984) by William H. Gerdts, we came to understand that there had been artists in every corner of the United States-not just the Northeast-whose paintings undeniably resembled Impressionism. By the time his Art Across America was published six years later, the number of painters he identified further afield had grown considerably (especially in Volume 2, which catalogues Southern and Midwestern artists). But how were we to account for these artists in the context of Impressionism? Some of them had never left the towns in which they were born, let alone traveled to Giverny. It was puzzling, and easier to dismiss their efforts as mimicry than to contend with it as expression. So, rather than contend, we ignored it.
It turns out that we were spectacularly and even proudly parochial in our likes and dislikes about Impressionism. It turns out that by focusing so intently on our preference for riper artists with lungs full of air, we were missing one of Impressionism s more intriguing qualities-its remarkable durability as an international style and especially its longevity in the United States. Decades after most French painters were exploring other movements, styles, and techniques, it turns out that American artists were continuing to extract expressive value from the Impressionist aesthetic. Even if they later abandoned Impressionism for something altogether different, American painters-fully two generations of them, at least-saw it as a well lit pathway toward the vanguard. And it happened border-to-border, coast-to-coast.
By the time we finally grasped that there was something compelling to say about American Impressionism-as practiced in places other than Paris, Giverny, New York, etc.-there were already very good scholars and curators, collectors, and (admittedly) art dealers discussing the subject in the context of those other places. Their animated (sometimes partisan) conversations were finding attentive listeners and particularly in and around such relevant communities as Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Indiana; Taos, New Mexico; Oakland and Laguna Beach, California; and a dozen other towns and cities, maybe more. The conversations continue to this day, and have only become more interesting over time.
All those years ago, long before we started talking about American Impressionism, the last place on earth we would have looked for signs of its existence was in the South. You see, we (many of us) labored under the false assumption that there was no history of painting, no valid or notable culture of art making, selling, or collecting in the South. We were perfectly earnest and sincere in this belief, and meant no disrespect by it. You could and should go southward for good antique furniture, for textiles, or for ceramics, we insisted, but certainly not for paintings.
When we (some of us) finally did open our eyes, we were amazed to find painters, paintings, and cultures of appreciation all across the South-in Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, Memphis, Jackson, and New Orleans to be sure, but also in intriguing spots like Holly Springs, Mississippi; Blowing Rock, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgi

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