Prominent artists will get to share wall space with Georgia O’Keeffe until May 5 in an “untried” exhibition at the Palmer Museum of Art.
The exhibit, “Varied and Untried,” features American artists that “explored new ways of looking at the everyday world,” especially during a time of dramatic change in the early 1900s, according to a plaque inside the exhibition.
Independent co-curator Molly S. Hutton wrote in an email that these paintings were “at the time, cutting edge approaches to picture-making.”
“These artists were committed to innovation and rejected contemporary academic traditions of painting in lieu of varied, and often personal, painting styles,” Hutton said.
Jan Muhlert, director of the Palmer Museum of Art, explained that the best-known artist in “Varied and Untried” is O’Keeffe, but the exhibition also includes many curators, art historians and art students.
O’Keeffe’s “Lake George” and John Marin’s “Downtown District, Manhattan,” are some of the artists and works featured in the small but powerful exhibition, with more than 20 works selected for display.
The paintings featured in “Varied and Untried” can be seen as a “bridge to the more abstract works of modernists that followed” these artists, Hutton said.
Since the world was modernizing in the 1920s, the paintings featured have subjects focused on everyday life instead of the elite, expressing the subjects in an “artistic language that was better able to capture the variety and psychology of modern life,” Hutton said.
Barbara Palmer and the late James Palmer donated the paintings in the exhibition.
Barbara Palmer wrote in an email that she “tried never to influence the museum’s decisions on what or how to show the collection at the Palmer Museum of Art” so the selection of paintings are the co-curators choices are honored.
Joyce Robinson, curator for the Palmer Museum of Art, and Hutton both selected the works seen in the exhibition.
The Palmers chose the works for their collection because the works appealed to both of them. Some works “are by artists we have known and others are by artists we have studied and wanted them to be represented in our collection,” Palmer said.
Palmer said that she does not have a favorite in the collection but said, “whichever one [she is] looking at” is her favorite work.