Friday, May 23, 2008

All aboard!

Our artists have to find the poetry in train stations the way their fathers found poetry in forests and rivers. –Emile Zola, 1877

Opening with the aforementioned quote, Art in the Age of Steam, now on view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, charts artists’ responses to the railway from its first appearance in the 19th century. You’re probably curious as to why I’m commenting on an exhibition across the Atlantic Ocean, but the Addison has lent Edward Hopper’s Railroad Train to the traveling show and I was given an opportunity to see the exhibition.
The object label for the Addison’s painting reads:

"The embankment between us and the train seems to suggest that the railway separates people rather than brings them together. This is an early work by Hopper painted shortly after he returned to New York from Paris. The blurred brushwork, showing the influence of French impressionism, creates an illusion of speed."

Other paintings, prints and drawings highlight the rise of railroad stations in Europe and America, document various social classes in train compartments, and comment on both the excitement and fear of industrial progress in the modern age. Co-organized by the Walker Art Gallery and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, the exhibition will be on view in Liverpool through August 10th and then travel to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in September. If your summer travels bring you overseas or to the Midwest, then I’d recommend checking out this carefully crafted exhibition.

Posted by Jaime DeSimone, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow

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