Monday, March 15, 2010

Root Canal: “Prendergast in Italy” at the MFA Houston

In 1882, American novelist Henry James concluded that there was “nothing more to be said” about Venice, Italy. Artists of all stripes had trod and sloshed through the streets and canals so long that opportunities for saying something new had, he felt, dried up entirely. Yet, in 1900, Maurice Prendergast exhibited a series of watercolors painted of Venice that made a giant splash in the American art world and cleared a path for a new wave of American modernism. Prendergast in Italy, an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, brings together these watery landmarks to recreate a seminal moment in American modern art and to rescue a great artist from drowning in the depths of obscurity. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Root Canal."

[Image: Maurice Prendergast, American, 1858-1924. The Grand Canal, Venice, c. 1898-99. Watercolor and pencil on paper. Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.123.]

[Many thanks to the Museum of Fine Art, Houston for providing me with the image above and other press materials for Prendergast in Italy. Many thanks also to Merrell Publishers for providing me with a copy of the catalogue.]


columnist said...

Prendergast's watercolour is indeed a joy, and so relevant, given the multitudes that flock to Serenissima. I agree, one does get rather bored with endless renditions of the great city, and I tend to pass most of them by, as I'm completely smitten by Canaletto's work, and almost everything else seems to fall short. But these are fun.

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