American Modernism from the Arkansas Arts Center Collection

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Beacon Content, Collection, Exhibitions, Museum

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Interested in more art by American Modernists after visiting Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work? The exhibition features 114 works exploring Marin’s evolution from intuitive draftsman to innovative watercolorist and etcher. But Marin was only one of an influential group of artists – commonly referred to as the “Stieglitz Circle” for their association with photographer, art dealer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz – working in and around New York in the first half of the 20th century. Stieglitz and his galleries took a leading role introducing America to modernism. In these galleries, you will find work by several artists who were also promoted by Stieglitz and showed work at the famed 291 Gallery – and at Stieglitz’s later galleries, The Intimate Gallery and An American Place.


Abraham Walkowitz

A lesser-known name, but still a critical member of the Stieglitz Circle, Abraham Walkowitz is best known for creating more than 5,000 watercolors of modern dancer Isadora Duncan. In addition to Abstraction, which is on view now, the Arkansas Arts Center Collection includes several of Walkowitz’s watercolors featuring Duncan.

Abraham Walkowitz, American (Tyumen, Russia, 1878 – 1965, Brooklyn, New York), Abstraction, 1912, graphite and crayon on paper, 12 1/2 x 8 1/8 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Zabriskie Gallery. 1993.015.001


Peggy Bacon

Peggy Bacon’s caricature of Alfred Stieglitz captures the photographer in his signature black cape. Bacon was particularly well known for her often-humorous caricatures of famous personalities in the 1920s and 1930s. The Arkansas Arts Center Collection also includes a caricature of Stieglitz’s second wife, modern artist Georgia O’Keeffe, by Bacon.

Peggy Bacon, American (Ridgefield, Connecticut, 1895 – 1987, Kennebunk, Maine), Alfred Stieglitz, circa 1930, charcoal on paper, 18 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with Gallery Contributions. 1989.018

Edward Steichen

Photographer and painter Edward Steichen served as a European talent scout for Stieglitz, introducing Stieglitz to interesting modernism by both European artists and Americans abroad, including John Marin. Steichen was one of American’s greatest photographers, making both fine art and commercial images, and also became a pioneering curator of photography.

Edward Steichen, American (Bivange, Luxembourg, 1879 – 1973, West Redding, Connecticut), The Maypole (Empire State Building), 1932, printed 1981-1982, gelatin silver print, 13 1/2 x 11 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Diane and Sanford M. Besser and Irene and George H. Davis. 1983.004.021

Arthur Dove

Arthur Dove was perhaps the first American painter to fully embrace abstraction. His abstract work remains based in nature, however. As he had with Marin, Stieglitz championed Dove’s work and showed it annually.

Arthur Dove, American (Canandaigua, New York, 1880 – 1946, Long Island, New York), Abstraction, Untitled, circa 1917-1920, charcoal on paper, 20 7/8 x 17 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund and with a gift from the Dove Estate. 1982.016

John Marin

Draftsman, watercolorist and etcher John Marin is one of America’s iconic modernists. The etching is a recent purchase by the Arkansas Arts Center, adding to the 290 works by John Marin given to the Arts Center by the artist’s daughter-in-law, Norma Marin. For more by John Marin, visit the exhibition Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work, on view through April 22. You can also learn more about Marin’s life and work here.

John Marin, American (Rutherford, New Jersey, 1870 – 1953, Cape Split, Maine), Lower Manhattan from the Bridge, 1931, etching on Whatman paper, 7 x 9 11/16 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 2015.031.002

The Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection also includes works by several other Stieglitz circle artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and Max Weber. The art on view in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection galleries is always changing – visit again soon to see works by these artists.

Haven’t been to see Becoming John Marin yet? You can find the exhibition in the Jeannette Edris Rockefeller and Townsend Wolfe galleries through April 22.

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