Reynolda Spring 2019 Exhibition Features Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock and 50 Years of American Modernism
Winston-Salem, N.C.—Works of art from nearly every major American artist of the first half of the 20th century will be on view at Reynolda House Museum of American Art in spring 2019. Hopper to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute will include 40 masterpieces of modern art, displaying the radical and visual transformation of art from 1902 to 1952. The exhibition opens Feb. 15 and will be on view at Reynolda through May 12.
Hopper to Pollock showcases paintings and drawings by 32 celebrated American artists including Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. These artists, and others, were responding to the 20th century’s volatile, exciting growth and scientific progress, as well as the devastating horrors of economic depressions, political uprisings, world wars and holocausts.
“The works of art in the exhibition are both wide-ranging and iconic,” says Reynolda Curator Allison Slaby. “Visitors will immediately recognize the drip-painting style of Pollock and the color-field painting of Rothko, but may be surprised by an Edward Hopper landscape, an artist who is better known for his images of urban spaces.”
The exhibition was formed from works of art once in the private collection of Edward Wales Root (1884-1956), son of Secretary of State Elihu Root and a pioneering collector of modern American art. In 1953, the Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed more than 100 works from Root’s holdings; it was the first private collection of contemporary art ever exhibited there. The Met’s curator at the time said “for the successful creation of a collection of contemporary art the stars must be most auspicious.” Four years later, Root bequeathed a majority of his collection to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, N.Y., near his home in central New York.
The role of collector and the art of collecting will be fundamental to the unique installation of Hopper to Pollock at Reynolda. An earlier version of the exhibition has been on view at other museums, but this will be the first installation to include additional works from another private collection. Reynolda House curators are including a selection of American modernism from the private collection of Reynolda’s founder and the visionary behind the museum’s collection, Barbara Babcock Millhouse.
“Root and Millhouse are counterparts in their collecting approach,” says Phil Archer, the Betsy Main Babcock Deputy Director at Reynolda House. “They were selecting work by artists who only later became leading figures in the field. We wanted to fully explore the story of a collector’s vision, and create a space where our visitors can think about their own reasons for collecting objects, whatever they may be.”
The Hopper canvas purchased by Root, The Camel’s Hump, will hang for the first time in the company of a more typical Hopper in Millhouse’s collection, “House at Eastham,” painted the following year. Archer says interest in Edward Hopper is at an all-time high and hosting this exhibition in North Carolina came at just the right time.
“An Edward Hopper painting just sold at auction for more than double his previous record price,” he says. “Clearly his perspective on the American scene continues to resonate with collectors and museum-goers.”
The exhibition will be presented in four sections: Infinite Spaces: Modern American Landscape Painting; Painting the American Century: Still Life and Figure Studies; Liberation from the Physical World: Abstract Expressionism; and A Different Eye: Barbara Babcock Millhouse and the Practice of Collecting Modernism. Other artists represented in Hopper to Pollock include Charles Burchfield, Arthur Davies, Arthur Dove, Arshile Gorky, George Luks, Reginald Marsh, Maurice Prendergast and Theodoros Stamos. A series of programs and special events will be offered throughout the season and available on the museum’s website in January. Tickets for the exhibition are on sale now at reynoldahouse.org/hopper.
Reynolda House is grateful for the support of “Hopper to Pollock” from lead sponsor Womble Bond Dickinson; an anonymous contributing sponsor; exhibition partners Anne and Bruce Babcock, and Verger Capital Management; and media partner Bell Davis Pitt.
Reynolda, in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a rare gem among the nation’s arts and cultural institutions and historic greenspaces. The 50-year-old museum at the center of Reynolda’s 180 acres, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of the country manor of R. J. Reynolds. Spanning 250 years, the collection is an uncompromisingly selective one, a chronology of American art, with each artist represented by one work of major significance. Highlights are: Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic Edwin Church, Stuart Davis, Martin Johnson Heade, Alex Katz, Lee Krasner, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent and Grant Wood. The collection was assembled by the unerring eye of Barbara Babcock Millhouse, granddaughter of R. J. and Katharine Reynolds. The Reynolda experience includes a free app called Reynolda Revealed; touring exhibitions in the museum’s Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing; formal gardens, conservatory and walking trails of Reynolda Gardens; and more than 25 of the estate’s original buildings repurposed as shops and restaurants in Reynolda Village. Reynolda, located at 2250 Reynolda Road, is adjacent to Wake Forest University. For more information, please visit reynolda.org. Connect at facebook.com/rhmaa and @CurateReynolda.
Edward Hopper, The Camel’s Hump, 1931, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 50 1/4 in., Edward W. Root Bequest, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY, 57.160. Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor and Diane Dubler
Arthur Dove, Tree Composition, 1937, wax emulsion on linen, 15 1/4 x 21 in., Edward W. Root Bequest, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY, 57.136. Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor and Diane Dubler