NEW YORK, N.Y.-
The exhibition American Paintings from the 1920s & 1930s in the Arkell Collections
provides a fascinating glimpse at two decades of collecting by an American Industrialist, and a look at some of the artists working in the 1920s and 1930s who were promoted by Macbeth Gallery the first New York City gallery to sell only American art.
Most of the paintings in this exhibition were purchased by Bartlett Arkell, the founder and first president of the Beech-Nut Packing Company. Arkell began to collect paintings for the museum in the mid-1920s. This was a time when many American painters continued to work in styles influenced by the French Impressionists, while others were encouraged by Robert Henri and The Eight (also known as the Ashcan School) to explore greater realism. During the 1930s, American artists became more interested in organic or geometric abstraction, but abstract art had a limited appeal with the public.
Arkell favored Realist and Impressionist works that presented nostalgic views of America unchanged by industrynot avant-garde art. He acquired paintings by Impressionists and Ashcan School artists who had once shocked people with their controversial subject matter and method of painting, but by the 1920s were hailed as Americas greatest artists. Arkell also collected Regionalist paintings that had won acclaim for their apparent embodiment of the values of Americas working people.
The exhibition includes portraits by two members of The Eight--George Bellows and George Luks. Regionalist artists are featured with works by Thomas Hart Benton, Paul Sample and Luigi Lucioni. The exhibition also includes watercolors and oil paintings by some of the best known American artists from the 1920s and 1930s including Edward Hopper, Charles Demuth and N.C. Wyeth.