Lecture | "Old Objects and New Audiences: The Hudson River School Today" by William Coleman


Lecture | "Old Objects and New Audiences: The Hudson River School Today" by William Coleman

The Poetry of Nature includes a good representation of the range of creative voices, subjects, formats, and media that have come to be understood as “Hudson River School” since the lifetimes of their makers. In dialogue with the world-class permanent collection holdings of the NBMAA, this show presents a welcome opportunity to take stock. What gave rise to the marked surge in the production of, and demand for, realist representations of the natural world in the middle decades of the nineteenth century? Why did some makers of outwardly similar artworks see their names become legendary while others have languished in obscurity? Who was buying objects like these, and why? How can a thoughtful modern museum help these quiet old pictures to speak to a 21st-century visitor, no matter what knowledge and preconceptions they may bring about this art form? This talk will propose some answers.

Dr. William L. Coleman is Director of Collections & Exhibitions at The Olana Partnership, the nonprofit that manages the 250-acre estate and house museum of Frederic Edwin Church in Hudson, NY alongside New York State Parks. He co-curated the 2020-21 exhibition Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment, which travelled to four other venues nationwide. He has been a fellow of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowment for the Humanities and has published a variety of scholarship on nineteenth-century art, architecture, and music.

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