Hyperreal to Abstract: States of Watercolor
In the 1940’s and 1950’s, American painting underwent a revolution, transforming New York into the art capital of the world. This revolution also nearly destroyed the American watercolor tradition. Artists focused on overthrowing classic authority were determined to go beyond the European academies. To achieve this, many turned away from traditional values. In such an atmosphere, the notion of watercolor as a distinct discipline was an early casualty.
Despite this, it is a little known fact that since the 1880’s, America’s contribution to international watercolor has grown, yet for various reasons; major collections across the states have still not been exhibited. This exhibition displayed some of watercolor’s lost history, presenting works by 20th century American artists that demonstrate the versatility of expression found in this medium.
"Painting watercolor is like skipping a sailboat. When sailing, you set a destination and plot the course, but you do not expect to arrive by following a straight line. Winds, tides, and currents force you to take a more or less circuitous route. Painting in watercolor is similarly unpredictable. The expert watercolorist learns how to take advantage of the accidents, so that a blot is magically transformed into a cloud, a blurred edge into a hazy bank. In watercolor, spontaneity is everything. The artist must learn to improvise." –Christopher Finch, American Watercolors
Special thanks to Cindy Buckner, Julie Conklin, and Dan VanDeSteeg.