'First American Modernist' in once rich factory town of New Britain

  "Salem" (Mass.) (oil on canvas), by Maurice Brazil Prendergast,  in the show "American Post-Impressionists: Maurice & Charles Prendergast,'' at the New Britain (Conn.) Museum of American Art, through June 10.    

"Salem" (Mass.) (oil on canvas), by Maurice Brazil Prendergast,  in the show "American Post-Impressionists: Maurice & Charles Prendergast,'' at the New Britain (Conn.) Museum of American Art, through June 10.

 

 

The museum says:

"Travel in time to the early 20th Century,  when Maurice and Charles Prendergast revolutionized American art. Inspired by European styles, the brothers challenged traditional artistic conventions, propelling the American Post-Impressionist movement and contributing to the evolution of American Modernism. 'American Post-Impressionists: Maurice & Charles Prendergast' features over 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, frames, sketchbooks, photographs, letters and tools drawn from the permanent collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Prendergast Archive & Study Center, at  the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Mass., which houses the largest Prendergast collection in the world.

"American Post-Impressionists'' originates with Maurice’s early works of the 1890s, executed during his studies in Paris, and follows his return in 1894 to the United States. Represented are paintings produced in his subsequent travels to Italy, France, Maine, Massachusetts and beyond, demonstrating the artist’s interest in the avant-garde techniques of Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, and his evolution toward a more abstracted depiction of figures and landscape, leading to his reputation as the 'First American Modernist.' Charles Prendergast’s works on view will include hand-carved frames and sculptures as well as his idiosyncratic paintings, which diverge from Maurice’s compositions in their pared-down, folk art aesthetic.

New Britain is another of those small New England cities that have good museums because local industrialists and other businesspeople well funded them in the great local wealth-creating times that started in the Industrial Revolution, which really got going in the region in the first part of the 19th Century.  It's still the home of Stanley Black & Decker, the tool company.

See pictures below.

  Looking north from Walnut Hill Mansion in New Britain.

Looking north from Walnut Hill Mansion in New Britain.

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