American Realism 1945 – 1917

9 November 2017 - 27 May 2018

One exhibition, two Museums:

Part one: Drents Museum Assen 1945 – 1965
Part two: Kunsthalle Emden 1965 - 1917

The Drents Museum and the Kunsthalle Emden have joined forces to mount the international double exhibition "The American Dream". This spectacular survey of American Realism from 1945 to the present is on view simultaneously in Assen (The Netherlands) and Emden (Germany). Leading artists including Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Chuck Close guide your journey through the art, culture, and history of post-war America. This is an exclusive for the museums: such an extensive survey of American Realism has never before been shown in Europe.

This double trans-border exhibition affords fascinating insight into the American way of life organised around the themes of Man, City, Landscape, Genre, and Still Life. As such the exhibition is much more than just an art-historical survey. The works from major American museums, corporate art collections, and private collections take you on a journey through the culture and history of post-war America.

Drents Museum

Dream versus realitiy: For the double exhibition the Drents Museum in Assen is focusing on the period 1945-1965. In the wake of the Second World War Europe lay in ruin and America was perceived as the land of limitless possibilities with ‘The American Dream’ as the great ideal: prosperity can be achieved through hard work. The paperboy can become a millionaire, upward mobility is possible, the sky is the limit! A promising point of departure, however in reality success and wealth were not always within reach.

Realistic view of everyday life: Modernism made its entrance in the art world. In their generally abstract work artists placed the emphasis on the future, optimism, and the freedom for which American soldiers fought so hard. While Modernism was embraced, its theoretical and intellectual nature lacked any connection with daily life. A new form of Realism attempting to restore this connection developed at the same time. American Realism questioned the American way of life and set the viewer thinking.

Visual Diversity: American Realism is diverse and surprising. While Edward Hopper, the grandmaster of this art movement, focused on atmosphere and surroundings, Andrew Wyeth found inspiration in rural life. Artists like Andy Warhol experimented with the seemingly superficial aesthetics of mass media, the advertising world, and consumer society. Reproduction became an important theme from the 1960s. The boundaries between art and reality blurred.

On display in Assen are about 60 paintings and sculptures made by leading American artists between 1945 and 1965. In addition a selection of works are exhibited from the period showcased in the Kunsthalle Emden. With these more recent works, from Pop to contemporary art, the Drents Museum presents a taste of what is in store in the exhibition in Emden.

Artists on show in Assen:
John Ahearn, Milton Avery, Will Barnet, Thomas Hart Benton, Robert Birmelin, Charles Burchfield, Vija Celmins, Chuck Close, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Duane Hanson, Edward Hopper, Alex Katz, John Koch, Jacob Lawrence, Roy Lichtenstein, John W. McCoy, John Moore, Catherine Murphy, Alice Neel, Jud Nelson, Claes Oldenburg, Fairfield Porter, Stone Roberts, Norman Rockwell, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, George Segal, Raphael Soyer, Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, Idelle Weber, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth.

Kunsthalle Emden

Art Movements in Realism: picking up the double exhibition where the first part in the Drents Museum leaves off, the Kunsthalle Emden presents art from the period 1965-2017. Jasper Johns' American Flags signalled a break with prevailing painting conventions in 1957. From then on Pop Art artists, including Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein, focused attention on objects from daily life, advertising, and the consumer society. Photorealism gained ground from the mid-1960s with Malcolm Morley and Chuck Close, among others. Typical is their concern with perfect craftsmanship, as reflected in the work of Charles Bell, Ralph Goings, Robert Bechtle, Audrey Flack, and Richard Estes. As a counter-movement, painters of classical realism, still widely represented in the United States, based themselves from the 1970s on Renaissance, Baroque, and 19th-century art.

Duplicated Reality: Replicas gained importance from the end of the 1960s. Art's rapprochement with reality then also assumed the form of a duplicated reality. Replicas were made of everything: a pot of paint, a box of dishwashing powder, and even the human body. These often fascinatingly realistic-looking art objects, for instance by George Segal and Duane Hanson, blur the boundaries between art, illusion, and reality.

Art Mirrors Life: Many realistic artists focused not only on a naturalistic way of depicting the world, but were also critically engaged with current affairs, social phenomena, and historical events: the Cold War (1945-1990), the Civil Rights movement, the assassinations of Martin Luther King in 1968 and John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Vietnam War (1964-1975), the moon landing in 1969, the Gulf War (1991/2003), and the attacks of 11 September 2001. Social upheaval, the rise of urban sub-cultures, drugs, Aids, and issues with the gun laws were also focal.

The Kunsthalle is exhibiting approximately 140 paintings, sculptures, and photographs by American artists from 1965 to the present. In addition, a selection of works from the period showcased in the exhibition in the Drents Museum is also presented. With these older works by artists such as Edward Hopper, Raphael Soyer, Andrew Wyeth, and Larry Rivers, the Kunsthalle Emden offers a taste of what is in store in the exhibition in Assen.

Artists on show in Emden:
Diane Arbus, Charles Atlas, Robert Bechtle, Charles Bell, Robert Birmelin, Tom Blackwell, Anthony Brunelli, Kathe Burkhart, Chuck Close, Davis Cone, Rackstraw Downes, Don Eddy, Nicole Eisenman, Richard Estes, Max Ferguson, Eric Fischl, Audrey Flack, Lee Friedlander, Robert Gniewek, Ralph Goings, Daniel Greene, Karl Haendel, Duane Hanson, Barkley Hendricks, Edward Hopper, Peter Hujar, Don Jacot, Yvonne Jacquette, Alex Katz, Ken Keeley, Kurt Knobelsdorf, John Koch, Robert Longo, Tony Matelli, Richard McLean, Edward Melcarth, Catherine Murphy, Alice Neel, Jud Nelson, Gordon Parks, Fairfield Porter, Richard Prince, Bill Rauhauser, Larry Rivers, Stone Roberts, Terry Rodgers, Aaron Romine, Martha Rosler, Judith Joy Ross, Ephraim Rubenstein, Megan Rye, Peter Saul, Dee Shapiro, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, Lorna Simpson, John French Sloan, Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Andy Warhol, Idelle Weber, Neil Welliver, Kehinde Wiley, Garry Winogrand, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth

Eldridge Cleaver and his Wife, Kathleen, Algiers, Algeria, 1970

Untitled, Watts, California, 1967

Untitled, New York, 1963

Stokely Carmichael Gives Speech, Watts, California, 1967

Untitled, Washington, D.C., 1963

Black Panther Headquarters, San Francisco, California, 1970

Press Release