For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design


For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design

ON DISPLAY OCTOBER 24, 2020 - JANUARY 17, 2021
Benny Andrews

May Stevens, Benny Andrews, the Artist, and Big Daddy Paper Doll, 1976, acrylic on canvas, 60 1/4 x 60 1/4 in. National Academy of Design, New York © May Stevens. Courtesy RYAN LEE Gallery, New York and American Federation of Arts.

Robert Blume

William Merritt Chase, Robert Blume, 1888, oil on canvas, 21 1/8 x 17 1/8 in. National Academy of Design, New York. Courtesy American Federation of Arts. 

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design features almost one hundred extraordinary paintings that present not only a visual document of the Academy’s membership, but a unique history of American painting as told by its makers. From its founding in 1825 to the present, the NAD has required all Academicians to donate a representative work to the Academy’s collection, and, from 1839 to 1994, the Academy also required Associates to present a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist. Such gifts of “diploma works” and “diploma portraits” are the defining feature of the Academy’s collection and the focus of this exhibition.

A remarkable selection of works by many major American artists is showcased across five exhibition sections, exploring a variety of historic themes: the origins of the Academy and the concomitant rise of the Hudson River School and American genre painting; the impact of contemporary European art and art education on the development of American painting; the Academy’s nascent role in the early twentieth century as the purveyor of artistic tradition in the United States; how realism in its various incarnations remained a viable alternative to American abstraction; and the ways in which paintings from living National Academy members address contemporary concerns while harkening back to America’s storied past. “We are thrilled to host an exhibition that offers such a extensive look at the history of American painting” says Christian Waguespack, Curator of 20th Century Art at the New Mexico Museum of Art and in-house curator for this exhibition. “With subjects ranging from George Washington to the Pueblos of New Mexico, there will defiantly be something here for everyone.”

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the National Academy of Design. Support for the national tour is provided by the JFM Foundation, Monique Schoen Warshaw, and Steph & Jody La Nasa.