fenimore-art-museum.JPGThe Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision June 29-September 29, 2013 Cooperstown, N.Y. - The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, presents an extraordinary exhibition showcasing over forty-five important 19th century landscape paintings by Hudson River School artists.  The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision opens Saturday, June 29.  Organized by the New-York Historical Society, this special exhibition will run through September 29.  The exhibition is part of a collaborative project with The Glimmerglass Festival, Hyde Hall, and Olana State Historic Site, the home of Frederic Church.  Each organization features programming related to the Hudson River School throughout the summer. Celebrated masterpieces rarely seen on tour include Thomas Cole's iconic series of five monumental landscapes, The Course of Empire, ca. 1834-36. Other featured artists include Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, George Inness, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Francis Augustus Silva, Sanford Robinson Gifford, Thomas Hill, and Albert Bierstadt.  Rising to eminence in New York during the mid-nineteenth century, this loosely knit group of artists forged a self-consciously American landscape vision grounded in the exploration of the natural world as a resource for spiritual renewal and as an expression of cultural and national identity. "Nature and the American Vision encapsulates some of the finest work of the Hudson River School artists," said Fenimore Art Museum President and CEO Dr. Paul S. D'Ambrosio.  "These artists portrayed nature both as a divine force and as a symbol of national pride.  Some works touch upon the subject of conservation and preservation, with imagery portraying the emergence of industrialization in 19th century America, a deliberate foreshadowing to warn of the potential environmental issues that could ultimately obliterate the country's pristine nature." The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision tells this compelling story through a series of themes, each contributing to the unifying narrative of nature and the American vision. Within these broad groupings, landscape imagery is also interpreted as a narrative device that embodies powerful ideas about nature, culture, and history. The American Grand Tour features paintings of the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountain regions celebrated for their scenic beauty and historic sites, as well as Lake George, Niagara Falls, and New England.  These paintings illuminate the scenic destinations that drew both artists and travelers in the nineteenth century and still continue to attract visitors today. The American Grand Tour also includes paintings that memorialize the Hudson River itself as the gateway to other regions that were touring destinations and primary sketching grounds for American landscape painters. American Artists Afield. After 1850, many Hudson River School artists sought inspiration even farther from home. The paintings of Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and Martin Johnson Heade elucidate how these painters embraced the role of artist-explorer and simultaneously thrilled audiences with dramatic images of the landscape wonders from such far-flung places as the American frontier, the Yosemite Valley, and South America. Dreams of Arcadia: Americans in Italy features romantic paintings by Cole, Cropsey, Sanford R. Gifford, and others celebrating Italy as the center of the Old World and the principal destination for Americans on the European Grand Tour.  Viewed as the storehouse of Western culture, Italy was a living laboratory of the past, with its cities, galleries, and countryside offering a visible survey of the artistic heritage from antiquity as well as a striking contrast to the sublime wilderness vistas of North America also portrayed by these artists. Grand Landscape Narratives. All of these ideas converge in the final section with Thomas Cole's iconic series: The Course of Empire. These five celebrated landscape paintings explore the tension between Americans' deep veneration of the wilderness and their equally ardent celebration of progress, recapitulating the larger story told by the other artists and landscape paintings in the exhibition. "Most of these significant works have never been exhibited in upstate New York, making Nature and the American Vision even more special for the people in our region," D'Ambrosio added. To enhance its collaborative efforts, the Fenimore Art Museum has made special arrangements with The Parthenon (which serves as the city of Nashville's museum of art) to display the well-known Frederic Church painting The Wreck - making a direct connection with Olana State Historic Site, the home of Frederic Church, and the Glimmerglass Festival's summer production of Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  It is also sponsored in part by Fenimore Asset Management Fund of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.  The exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society. For more information about Fenimore Art Museum, please visit FenimoreArtMuseum.org.  About Fenimore Art Museum The Fenimore Art Museum, located on Otsego Lake - James Fenimore Cooper's "Glimmerglass Lake" - in historic Cooperstown, New York, features a wide-ranging collection of American art including: folk art; important American 18th- and 19th-century landscape, genre, and portrait paintings; an extensive collection of domestic artifacts; more than 125,000 historical photographs representing the technical developments made in photography and providing extensive visual documentation of the region's unique history; and the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art comprising more than 800 art objects representative of a broad geographic range of North American Indian cultures, from the Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Great Lakes, and Prairie regions. Founded in 1945, the Fenimore Art Museum is NYSHA's showcase museum. FenimoreArtMuseum.org Listed in USA Today as one of the top 10 places to see art in small cities, The Fenimore Art Museum offers spectacular art to match its spectacular setting on Otsego Lake in scenic Cooperstown, New York.  About the New-York Historical Society The Society is dedicated to presenting exhibitions and public programs, and fostering research that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, its holdings cover four centuries of American history, and include one of the world's greatest collections of American art, historical artifacts and other materials documenting the history of the United States as well as New York City and State. Thousands of the Society's most treasured pieces are on permanent display in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, and a self-guided audio tour brings these works of art and artifacts to life with anecdotes and stories. Our collections provide the foundation for exploration of the nation's richly layered past and support the Society's mission to provide a forum for debate and examination of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history and art. About the Book Accompanying the Exhibition The American ideas and beliefs about nature explored by Hudson River School painters are also investigated in the 224-page publication authored by Dr. Linda S. Ferber, Vice President and Senior Art Historian at the New-York Historical Society. The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision places these splendid works into a broad historical and cultural context. Published by Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc., the book features 150 large color illustrations of works from the acclaimed collection of the New-York Historical Society, including those in the exhibition.

###

For more information and images, please contact: Todd Kenyon New York State Historical Association Fenimore Art Museum/The Farmers' Museum Phone: (607) 547-1472 / E-mail: t.kenyon@nysha.org