Must-See Museum Shows | Creating the Modern Southwest

Gilcrease Museum, Through May 14

Fremont Ellis, The Blue Pool, oil, 22 x 28.

Fremont Ellis, The Blue Pool, oil, 22 x 28.

This story was featured in the January 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  January 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

The land stretching from Texas to Southern California contains some of the most ancient communities in the United States, which drew many contemporary artists to the region in the early 20th century. Meanwhile, modern artworks were gaining traction in Europe and New England—marked by the opening of the International Exhibition of Modern Art in 1913. Soon after, American artists in the Southwest combined these new contemporary ideas with their traditional art forms, creating a distinct look.

That’s where the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK, comes in. Its new exhibition, Creating the Modern Southwest, explores the western interpretation of modern art influences—brilliant light, bold lines, and expressive gestures. Laura Fry, the museum’s senior curator and curator of art, pulled about 25 oil paintings, six works on paper, two sculptures, and one ceramic piece from the depths of the permanent collection vaults to display. “I think it’s important to acknowledge a wider context for these works and see the many influences coming from the East,” Fry says. “You can see how this imagery influenced perceptions of the region as it created an exaggerated view of the Southwest today.”

Between Ernest Blumenschein’s modernist style, Georgia O’Keeffe’s famous ANTELOPE HEAD WITH PEDERNAL, and Fremont Ellis’ landscape, there’s a distinct sense of place and exuberance represented in the exhibition. The works cover a span of 50 years in the early 20th century.

This story was featured in the January 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  January 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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