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Rural Modern: American Art Beyond the City

October 29, 2016 to January 22, 2017
N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) The Drowning, 1936, oil on canvas.

N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), The Drowning, 1936, Oil on canvas, 42 x 48 1/8 in. Brandywine River Museum of Art, Bequest of Carolyn Wyeth, 96.1.40


Charles Demuth (1883-1935). End of the Parade, Coatesville, Pa., 1920. Tempera and pencil on board, 19 7/8 x 15 3/4 in. Collection of Deborah and Ed Shein

Wheat Field

John Rogers Cox (1915-1990). Wheat Field, ca. 1943. Oil on Masonite, 16 x 20 in. The John and Susan Horseman Collection of American Art

New Mexico Landscape

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943). New Mexico Landscape, 1919-20. Oil on canvas, 30 x 36 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949

Roger Medearis painting

Roger Medearis (1920-2001). Godly Susan, 1941. Egg tempera on board, 27 5/8 x 23 5/8 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Roger and Elizabeth Medearis, 1992.84

Spring Turning

Dale Nichols (1904-1995). Spring Turning, 1946. Oil on canvas, 25 x 18 in. Collection of Paul and Diane Guenther, Courtesy of D. Wigmore Fine Art, New York. © Joan Nichols Lenhart

Staircase, Doylestown

Charles Sheeler (1883-1965). Staircase, Doylestown, 1925. Oil on canvas, 25 1/8 x 21 1/8 in. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1971

Rural Modern explores the adaptation of modernist styles to subject matter associated with the American countryside.

Treatments of coastal New England, small-town Pennsylvania, Midwestern farms, and other rural regions of the country illustrate the dispersal of canonical modernist styles such as Cubism and Fauvism, as well as the translation of these idioms into an American vernacular modernism. Comprised of nearly 70 works mainly completed between the world wars, Rural Modern investigates the incursion and gradual acceptance of modernist tropes in the American provinces. Some of the artists included, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, were firmly entrenched in modernism before leaving the cities behind. Other artists, N.C. Wyeth for example, started out in more pastoral settings and traditional styles but came to adopt ever more experimental approaches.

Rural Modern is organized by Amanda C. Burdan, Associate Curator, and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue including insightful essays by Burdan and other noted scholars of American modernism. 


Lecture and Conversation with Book Signing
What is Rural Modernism? 
Saturday, October 29, 1–3:30 p.m.

N.C. Wyeth: American Regionalist
Wednesday, November 2, 2 p.m.

Art-making and BYOB
Creative Escape Workshop: Printed Notecards
Wednesday, November 2, 6–8 p.m.

Songs of America between the Wars with Rick Spencer
Saturday, November 5, 1 p.m.

PNC Arts Alive First Sundays for Families
Pirate Adventure Day
Sunday, November 6, 11–2 p.m.

Music on the Brandywine: Duo
Thursday, November 10, 6–9 p.m.

Curator's Tour
Rural Modern Landscape
Wednesday, November 16, 2 p.m.

Curator's Tour
Rural Modern Life
Wednesday, December 14, 2 p.m.

Curator's Tour
Rural Modern Gothic
Wednesday, January 11, 2 p.m.

This exhibition is supported by The Davenport Family Foundation and Morris and Boo Stroud. Support for the catalogue has been provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

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