Amon Carter Museum – Extend Your Tour

Last Sunday I sang the praises of John Singer Sargent and the current show, Sargent’s Youthful Genius: Paintings from the Clark, at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. The little bird, in the photo above, perched on the street sign was also singing.

Before I left the building last Sunday, I took a detour on the second floor just curious about what they had in their permanent collection. For those, like me, who took lots of art history courses and sat in a darkened class room and watched slides of the best examples from the period in discussion, I was delighted to find many real McCoys at the Amon Carter. Here are paintings you can see firsthand; or, in the case of this first work, “in the flesh:”

Swimming (1885) | Artist: Thomas Eakins | oil on canvas | “27-3/8 x 36-3/8“| Collection: Amon Carter Museum

Thomas Eakins was a highly regarded teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts where he continued the Renaissance tradition of studying the human body. The painting, Swimming, is considered one of his finest renderings of the human form. His students posed as models. He included himself in the lower right corner gliding towards his dog, Harry. Swimming raised some eyebrows because the academy had a policy of restricting professors from using students as subjects. A year later, Eakins was asked to resign after a classroom incident when he again ignored another school policy. Male models were to be draped whenever a female student was present. He is quoted as saying that he left “with his conscience clear” because he had “little patient with false modesty which is the greatest enemy to all figure painting.”

Flags on the Waldorf (1916) | Artist: Childe Hassam | oil on canvas | Collection: Amon Carter Museum

The American artist, Childe Hassam, was cited in my art history books and lectures for his prolific output of urban and coastal scenes – 3,000 over the course of his life – and, more importantly, for his adoption of the Impressionism style. Among American collectors, dealers and museums in the early 20th century, Hassam was instrumental in popularizing the softer pastel color palette and free staccato brushstrokes being used by the European Impressionists.

When you visit, also look for excellent paintings by artists among the greats like Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt and Georgia O’Keefe.

Above is a section of the “front porch” (or loggia) entrance to the Amon Carter Museum. Philip Johnson’s design specified that all the arches and columns were constructed using Texas shell-limestone. Johnson took several trips to Leander, TX. quarries before finding the right cream-colored stone.

The building itself has an interesting story. New York-based architect, Philip Johnson, was hired to design what became the first modern museum in Fort Worth – finished in 1961, with the Kimball (1972) by Louis Kahn and The Modern (2002) by Tadao Ando to follow nearby. Propped on a hill overlooking downtown Fort Worth, the International Style of the Amon Carter was noticed by the inner art and architecture circles on the East Coast. Welcomed murmurs were heard about the sophisticated tastes existing in “Cowtown” and Texas.

Next weekend, I’ll be touring the visual art scene in Austin with Jed Morse, Curator at Nasher Sculpture Center, and a group from the Nasher’s Avant-Garde Society. My prediction: I’ll have many topics and photos to share with you in two weeks.

…until Sunday, April 8th.

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