Today I went to the much talked of American Watercolor exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum.
This illustration may or may not be a gross exageration. I may or may not be wearing heels, and I may or may not have snuck Lulu into the gallery with me today. #memberperks.
We, uh, I mean, I, was there the entire day. Practically. I did close down the show. I definitely saw like, three shift changes, while I walked through the exhibit a total of three times. Lulu didn't mind. She likes debating the character of John Ruskin and his influence on his students.
Watercolors have really informed my love of art ever since I was a child.
I loved how this exhibitions focus was on where watercolor began, what caused it to be so popular and it's progression over the late 1800s to the mid 1920s and now.
To me, and I'm fairly certain everyone else, the Winslow Homers and the John Singer Sargent's were my favorite. Stood there all day as I did, I couldn't pick a favorite. They are too different. I wanted all of them.
The exhibit was set up to showcase the tradition of watercolors- which, interestingly, was heavily used in Pennsylvania. It was initially used primarily by women and, therefore, written off as a serious art. Later though with the influence of John Ruskin and celebrity Samuel Coleman and the emergence of the American Watercolor Society, it gained recognition and adoration. It's stars in the 1920s were Homer and Sergent, and that is who this very tailored show focused on.
While the medium began in America mimicking the British traditions, it fast became the iconic American medium-- completed quickly and with so many possibilities.
Wouldn't you love my whole dissertation?? I could write one.
But I think this exhibition gave me further fodder for contemplating my own work and it's significance in time and space.
Particularly, John Singer Sargent pieces give me a little encouragement because he worked very hard at making his watercolors look effortless. He used rulers and compasses and measured everything out. Which, is what I do on all of my detailed finished work.
This exhibit is such a big deal because watercolor are quite temperamental. They are light sensitive and are therefore difficult to transport. It is rare to find this many watercolors all in one place together due to this. I highly recommend this show! I'm contemplating what print to have done for our house.. Winslow or Sargent....Winslow or Sargent...? :-/