American Art on Paper: Souvenirs

May 5, 2010—October 17, 2010

Location: Nelson-Atkins Building, Gallery 214

Admission is free.

From the French word meaning “to remember,” a souvenir enhances a memory by giving it a tangible form.  American artists often created their own souvenirs, frequently on paper. They recorded impressions, revealed inspirations and commemorated travels.

The artist-travelers highlighted in this installation explored the world from Cripple Creek, Colorado, and the rocky coast of Maine to a private Caribbean island and the desert near Jerusalem. Their etchings, engravings, watercolors, pastels, ink sketches, and charcoal and graphite drawings reflect an array of styles and artistic concerns. Some mementos are rendered with exacting realism. Others offer an interpretation based on the spirit of a place and the essence of its color, light and atmosphere. In certain instances, the souvenirs showcased here not only recorded an artist’s reaction to a given locale, but also aided the development of a painting or documented a finished work.

The Nelson-Atkins’ American art collection has some 600 works on paper by many of the country’s most revered artists. Installations in Gallery 214 rotate every six months in order to display the variety of the collection and to protect it from overexposure to damaging light.

Showcasing a compendium of media, techniques, styles and themes, these rotating installations convey the engaging possibilities of art on paper. In many instances, the work on display illuminates additional dimensions of multifaceted, prominent American artists whose paintings are also among the treasures of the Museum’s American collection.

This installation is underwritten by Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield.

Image: John Taylor Arms, American, 1887-1953. Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore, 1920. Color etching with aquatint on paper, ed. 6/100. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the Print Duplicate Fund, and exchange of the bequests of Mrs. Peter T. Bohan and Frances M. Logan and the gifts of Allene Reese, Fred D. Frick, and the Woodcut Society, 84-42.

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