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Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection

Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina
Aug 28, 2018 – Dec 13, 2018

The radical changes wrought by the rise of the salon system in nineteenth-century Europe provoked an interesting response from painters in the American South. Painterly trends emanating from Barbizon and Giverny emphasized the subtle textures of nature through warm color and broken brushstroke. Artists’ subject matter tended to represent a prosperous middle class at play, with the subtle suggestion that painting was indeed art for art’s sake and not an evocation of the heroic manner. Such enchanting French paintings introduced a visual vocabulary of style, color, and content that was soon successfully adopted by American artists. Many painters in the South took up the stylistics of Tonalism, Impressionism, and naturalism to create equally picturesque works which celebrated the Southern scene as an exotic other, a locale offering refuge from an increasingly mechanized urban environment. In its presentation of some forty paintings created between 1880 and 1940—including landscapes and genre scenes—Scenic Impressions traces an international aesthetic’s journey to and germination in the American South. In its presentation of some forty paintings created between 1880 and 1940—including landscapes and genre scenes—Scenic Impressions traces an international aesthetic’s journey to and germination in the American South.

Featured artists include Wayman Adams, George Aid, Lloyd Branson, George Brenner, Lyell Carr, William Chadwick, Elisabeth Chant, Eliot Clark, Kate Clark,  Colin Campbell Cooper, Josephine Couper, Elliott Daingerfield, William Dodge, G. Ruger Donoho, Alexander Drysdale, Gilbert Gaul, Edward Gay, Birge HarrisonJames Herring, Harry HoffmanAlfred Hutty, Rudolph Ingerle, Wilson Irvine, Harvey JoinerJohn Ross Key, Blondelle Malone, Lawrence Mazzanovich, Willie Newman, Clara ParrishPaul Plaschke, Chauncey RyderHattie Saussy, Paul Sawyier, Dixie Selden, William SilvaAlice Ravenel Huger Smith, Gladys SmithAnthony Thieme, Helen Turner, Bror Wikstrom, Catherine Wiley, and Ellsworth Woodward, painters who explored local color to produce, in the words of the popular and prolific American Impressionist Childe Hassam, “some things that are charming.”

After opening at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee, the exhibition traveld to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, the McKissick Museum in Columbia South Carolina, Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia, and the Knoxville (Tennessee) Museum of Art. The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts at Spartanburg's Wofford College is the show's final venue. An accompanying catalogue was published in 2015.