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Reception March 1 opens new “American Dreams" exhibit in BYU Museum of Art

New setting for selections from the museum's Permanent Collection

Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art will open a new exhibition “American Dreams: Selected Works from the Museum’s Permanent Collection of American Art” Friday, Feb. 24, with a reception highlighting the exhibit Wednesday, March 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Lied Gallery on the Museum’s main level.

The reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

The new and expanded exhibition will be presented on both levels of the Museum and will include prints, sculpture and photography, as well as painting.

“American Dreams” will replace “150 Years of American Painting,” which has been on display for the past 11 years, and will be divided into three thematic sections — “The Dream of Eden,” “American Aspirations” and “Envisioning America.”

“If works of art are always shown in the same context and the same environment, they get stale,” said BYU Museum of Art Curator of American Art Marian Wardle. “When these works are presented in a new context, a new environment, they take on new meanings. It gives them new life.”

“American Dreams” will be on display for five years and will include works by Alexander Calder, Maynard Dixon, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Minerva Teichert and Andy Warhol.

The “Dream of Eden” section features landscape paintings that evoke the vision of America as a new Eden. The discovery of the New World awoke the “Dream of Eden” within Europeans who saw the new land a chance to return to paradisiacal glory; the exploration of the American West rekindled this dream.

The “American Aspirations” section of the exhibition portrays comfort, refinement and leisure that perpetuate the vision of America as a land of opportunity for achievement and success. “American Aspirations” explores the historic promise of an abundant and comfortable American way of life through portraits and still lifes depicting affluence and leisure.

The artworks in the “Envisioning America” section convey multiple visions of the nation as portrayed by American artists. Early examples reflected a vision of America as heir to the values of Western civilization, such as democracy, classical order and Christianity. American artists of this era used European styles and Christian ideals to mythologize the founding events of the nation.

After World War I and II, America emerged as a new world power and realized its identity. Some American artists celebrated the achievements of their country, while others exercised their right of free speech to critique society.

For more information about the new exhibition, contact the Museum of Art at (801) 422-1140.

Writer: Christopher Wilson

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