MEMPHIS, TN – July 9, 2019 – The work of French academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau is the focus of a new exhibition on display now through Sept. 22 at the Memphis Brooks Museum. “Bouguereau & America” is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work in nearly 30 years.
“Bouguereau & America” includes 39 canvases by the French artist, whose renown peaked in America between the late 1860s and the early 1900s, and whose works form the backbone of many museum collections. Pulling together large-scale canvases from museums and private collections in the United States and Mexico, the exhibition presents paintings’ provenance in order to examine their cultural relevance in America.
The exhibition sheds light on how the history of collecting mirrors the religious beliefs, sexual mores and social problems of the period, as well as how the artist’s popularity influenced his subject matter.
During the Gilded Age, owning a painting by Bouguereau was considered essential for any American who aspired to be a serious art collector. The artist’s grand representational canvases, with their self-conscious references to acknowledged masters like Raphael, brought a sense of sophistication to newly formed collections. “Bouguereau” & America takes a contemporary look at the artist’s reputation—once revered by Gilded Age collectors and later reviled by critics—and offers an opportunity to examine how society’s perspectives on art and subject matter can shift over time.
A full-color exhibition catalogue, published by Yale University Press with essays by the “Bouguereau & America” co-curators as well as a group of distinguished scholars of the subject, has been published to accompany the exhibition. Copies of the catalogue are available for purchase in the Brooks’ Museum Store.
This exhibition is co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.
Dr. Joy Brown Wiener and family are the catalogue sponsors for “Bouguereau & America.” At the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, “Bouguereau & America” is sponsored by Carol and George Barnes, Buzzy Hussey and Hal Brunt, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Needham Horton, Lucy and Tom Lee, Malco Theaters and Sue Layman Designs, Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Schadt, Honey and Rudi Scheidt, Mr. and Mrs. Bailey Wiener, and Mr. and Mrs. Lee Russel Wiener.
About the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Founded in 1916 in historic Overton Park, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to Tennessee’s oldest and largest major collection of world art. More than 10,000 works make up the Brooks Museum’s permanent collection, including works from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Americas; Renaissance masterpieces from Italy; English portraiture; American painting and decorative arts; contemporary art; and a survey of African art. The Brooks enriches the lives of our diverse community through the museum’s expanding collection, varied exhibitions, and dynamic programs that reflect the art of world cultures from antiquity to the present. For more information about the Brooks, please visit www.brooksmuseum.org.
About the Milwaukee Art Museum
Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler‒designed addition. In 2016, after a yearlong renovation, the Museum reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition. This reimagined space also allows for the presentation of additional changing exhibitions. For more information, please visit www.mam.org.
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