This exhibition reveals the importance and depth of NSU Art Museum’s extensive collection of artist William J. Glackens (1870-1938), by presenting works from 1896 to 1936 that distinguish him as one of America’s leading modern artists. His early paintings of contemporary life depict the diversity and everyday activities of people living in late 19th and early 20th century Paris and New York City, and retreating from them at beaches and lake fronts. He was fascinated by the French Impressionists, especially Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), and studied them and those of other modern artists on multiple visits to France, starting in 1895.
Glackens was an active proponent of modern art in America and was involved with the organization of three key New York avant-garde exhibitions: “The Eight” (1908), the Armory show (1913) that exhibited American and European modernism together for the first time; and The Society of Independent Artists (1917). He also played a crucial role in the formation of one of the most important collections in America when his childhood friend Albert C. Barnes tapped him to purchase works by European Modern artists for his now celebrated collection.
This exhibition demonstrates Glackens commitment to forging a uniquely American Modernism by including works from his little-known explorations in the 1910s of the abstract compositional components of non-Western art, created alongside Maurice (1858-1924) and Charles (1863-1948) Prendergast, as well as works from the 1920s and 1930s that display his fascination with abstraction and pattern in textiles and decoration.
NSU Art Museum holds the largest collection of Glackens art in the world as a result of gifts from Ira Glackens, son of the artist, and the Sansom Foundation. This exhibition celebrates the return of works loaned to the highly acclaimed 2014-15 retrospective, William J. Glackens, co-organized by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York; and The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.