Feature Articles

October 2013

Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, Explores Social Realism in Art

The Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, will present Partisans: Social Realism in American Art, a new exhibition on view in the West Bedroom Gallery, from Oct. 5 through Mar. 16, 2014.

Partisans is one of several small exhibitions of the museum’s collections that rotate periodically in the museum’s historic house galleries.

Social injustice has long motivated artists to create work as a form of protest. In the first half of the 20th century, the tumult of World War I and the global Great Depression led many American artists to comment on the conditions of the working classes. For subject matter, artists looked to the daily life in the workplace, the status of women at work, the rise of fascism, the denial of African American civil rights and the wealth disparity caused by increased industrialization. Ben Shahn, Philip Evergood, Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood were among hundreds of artists employed by the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal agency that provided work for laborers of all kinds.

“This democratization of art-making combined with the prevailing economic crisis to inspire art that both depicted and criticized social and political structures,” says Phil Archer, director of public programs at the museum who curated the exhibition.

Archer says Regionalist artists like Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood also sought to portray the conditions of rural America and were seen popularly as advocates of a distinctly American art, free of foreign influences. Many of the artists who came to maturity in the 1920s and ’30s continued in later life to paint representationally, contrary to the period’s primary trend toward abstraction, continuing to see art as an expression of conscience and a weapon for correcting social injustice.

The exhibition includes works not regularly on view from the museum’s acclaimed collection, including Bootleggers by Benton, and visitor favorites like Spring Turning by Grant Wood.

Reynolda House Museum of American Art is one of the nation’s premier American art museums, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Gilbert Stuart among its collection. Affiliated with Wake Forest University, Reynolda House features changing exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, film screenings and other events. The museum is located in Winston-Salem, in the historic 1917 estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolda House and adjacent Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda Village feature a spectacular public garden, dining, shopping and walking trails.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 336/758-5150 or visit (www.reynoldahouse.org).

[ | October 2013 | Feature Articles | Download Carolina Arts' Current Issue | Carolina Arts Unleashed | Home | ]







Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc. Copyright© 1987-2013 by PSMG, Inc. which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - December 1994 and South Carolina Arts from January 1995 - December 1996. It also published Carolina Arts Online, Copyright© 1998 - 2013 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited.