Rewriting the Story of American Art with Making American Artists
Katherine E. Blodgett
PHILADELPHIA–October 6, 2022–The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) announces its next major exhibition, Making American Artists: Stories from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1776–1976. Presenting over 100 of the most iconic works in PAFA's famed collection, it spotlights both well-known names in American art and traditionally underrepresented artists, posing questions about what it has meant to be an American artist over two centuries. The exhibition runs from October 6, 2022 through April 2, 2023 in the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.
Making American Artists explores the role that art has played in influencing our national history and identity over 200 years and embraces untold stories about women artists, LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists of color. Artworks will be displayed in five thematic sections—portraiture, history painting, still life, genre scenes, and landscape—rather than in chronological order. This design allows for objects from different time periods to be shown together, creating striking visual counterpoints, and sparking new conversations.
Each of the featured artists’ careers were shaped by PAFA, whether through their education or the exhibition and display of their work, and the exhibition offers a critical re-examination of this legacy while shedding light on PAFA’s continuing role in shaping American art in the 21st century. Iconic American artists with one or more works in the exhibition include Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Barkley Hendricks, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, May Howard Jackson, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keefe, Charles Willson Peale, Sonia Sekula, Henry O. Tanner, Dox Thrash, and Andrew Wyeth.
“Making American Artists is an epic collection of American art, featuring some of our nation’s most famous images and artists in new conversations with each other. When Charles Willson Peale founded PAFA with the sculptor William Rush in 1805, they created an institution that was devoted to groundbreaking initiatives in championing American art and artists—what that looks like has changed considerably throughout the last 217 years. This exhibition explores PAFA’s impressive collection with a critical eye and emphasizes its transformative contribution to the history of American Art,” says Eric Pryor, President and CEO of PAFA.
Chief of Curatorial Affairs and the Kenneth R. Woodcock Curator of Historical American Art Dr. Anna Marley led the curation of the 103 objects in the exhibition from PAFA’s collection of over 16,000 objects. Marley says, “Making American Artists asks integral questions about PAFA’s role in defining what American art was and is, and who gets to be considered an American artist. When you have a collection full of iconic art, that has been developed over more than 200 years, you have an opportunity and obligation to tell both familiar and surprising stories.”
Making American Artists also features a robust schedule of public programs, including musical performances (curated in partnership with World Cafe Live), lectures, tours, gallery talks, and more. Discover a list of confirmed events here >>
Following the exhibition’s close, it will travel to at least four national venues in a tour organized by the American Federation of Arts. For more information, visit https://www.amfedarts.org.
Lead support for Making American Artists is provided by the William Penn Foundation. Major support is provided by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation. Generous support is provided by Julie Jensen Bryan and Robert Bryan. Additional support is provided by Linda Seyda and Robert Boris and donors to PAFA's Special Exhibition Fund. In-kind support is provided by Christie’s and Gill & Lagodich Fine Period Frames, New York.
Making American Artists: Stories from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,
October 6, 2022—April 2, 2023
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts-Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building
128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
www.pafa.org | (215) 972-7600
About the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Maxfield Parrish, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch and Henry Ossawa Tanner. Learn more at PAFA.org.
Header Image Credit:
Joan Brown (1938-1990) Self-Portrait, 1977. Oil on canvas, 84 x 72 in. (213.36 x 182.88 cm.) Museum Purchase, 2018.47
COPYRIGHT © Estate of Joan Brown, courtesy of George Adams Gallery, New York
Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) The Artist in His Museum, 1822. Oil on canvas, 103 3/4 x 79 7/8 in. (263.5 x 202.9 cm.)
Gift of Mrs. Sarah Harrison (The Joseph Harrison, Jr. Collection), 1878.1.2