James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
One of the most innovative artists of his time, Whistler achieved widespread international recognition and is considered among the most influential of American-born artists. He painted portraits, seascapes, and figural works as well as city and architectural views, but used the actual subjects as mere starting points for compositions that emphasize color, patterning, and abstract form to create a sense of mood. By 1872 he began using musical terminology (e.g., harmony, arrangement, symphony) in the titles of some of his works to reinforce this idea, and signed with a butterfly monogram derived from his initials. Radical in a day when art centered around direct naturalistic representation, Whistler's avant-garde ideas eventually moved into the mainstream, continuing to inform the creative efforts of later generations of artists.
Among Whistler's influences were Japanese prints and porcelain, and he sometimes introduced objects from his extensive collections into his compositions. He lived and worked primarily in London, and the urban landscape of that city and others (particularly Venice) became an important source of inspiration in his work, whether rendered on a large or very intimate scale. Not only did Whistler produce a highly original body of work in oil, pastel, and watercolor (in addition to drawings and prints), he published and lectured on his theories, and was a central figure in the Aesthetic movement, applying his creative viewpoint to interior design as well as the framing and display of artworks.
American Impressionism & Realism - 2 May - 28 July, 2011
American Works on Paper 1880-1930 - 20 October - 19 December, 2009
Light Impressions - American Works on Paper 1875-1925 - 9 May - 30 June, 2006