Alone Together: Encounters in American Realism

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Guest curated by Alex J. Taylor, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh History of Art and Architecture Department.

In the early-to-mid twentieth century, American realist painters produced evocative images of human connection and disconnection that processed the traumas of war, civil unrest, economic depression, and many other upheavals large and small. Their works pursue an experimental approach to realism that captures the uneasiness of a modern world in turmoil, of lonely crowds and isolating spaces, of intimate relationships that seem strangely distant.

Long overlooked in favor of more obviously modern styles, the work of such artists has recently enjoyed a resurgence of attention. One result of this interest is that contemporary painters can be seen to pursue similarly innovative approaches to representational painting that grapples with what it feels like to live in the world right now. In Alone Together: Encounters in American Realism, we bring together works separated by almost a century to consider how they are bound together by the shared experience of living and working in difficult times.

The exhibition includes major magic realist and American scene paintings from the collection of Jason Schoen, one of the most important holdings of such work in private hands. These works have been supplemented with key loans from other institutions and lenders as well as selections from The Westmoreland’s own collection. Alongside these historical paintings and prints, the exhibition stages encounters with works by five contemporary artists to capture shared experiences across time.

Artists with works featured in the exhibition include: Thomas Hart Benton | Edward Biberman | Matt Bollinger | John Biggers | Henry Billings | Colleen Browning | Paul Cadmus | Jurell Cayetano | Wynn Chamberlain | William DeBernardi | Richard Dempsey | Opal Ecker DeRuvo | Mabel Dwight | Leonard Everett Fisher | Jared French | O. Louis Guglielmi | Mary Henderson | Morris Kantor | Jules Kirschenbaum | Henry Koerner | Armin Landeck | Hughie Lee-Smith | Martin Lewis | Alvin Ross | Zoltan Sepeshy | Clyde Singer | Pavel Tchelitchew | George Tooker | Grant Wood

Alone Together: Encounters in American Realism is also generously supported by The Heinz Endowments and the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.