New Met Exhibit Explores Civil War's Impact on American Art

By Victoria Bekiempis on May 21, 2013 7:50am 

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 A new show at the Met, 1000 Fifth Ave., explores how the Civil War impacted American art.
Met Civil War Exhibit
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UPPER EAST SIDE — The Civil War split the country, but the War between the States united artists of that era who were confused about the conflict and American identity.

And now, their work will be explored in a new, expansive exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., set to open next Monday, officials said.

The show, which features many loaned works, examines American artists' response to life during and after the conflict, particularly how  "landscapes and genre scenes — more than traditional history paintings — captured the war’s impact on the American psyche," museum experts said in a statement.

"The Civil War and American Art," which will be open until Sept. 2, 2013, features some 60 paintings and 18 photographs showing "unease as war became inevitable, optimism that a single battle might end the struggle, growing realization that fighting would be prolonged, enthusiasm and worries alike surrounding emancipation, and concerns about how to reunify the nation after a period of grievous division," the museum said. 

Displayed artists include landscape masters Frederic Edwin Church and Sanford Robinson Gifford as well as battle and slice-of-life paintings by Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson.

"The idea is a land of plenty going from an Eden to a lost Paradise," said Eleanor Jones Harvey, a senior curator with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where the show was previously displayed.

H. Barbara Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Met and curator for the New York show, said the event does a particularly good job demonstrating this because it's so extensive.

Weinberg said that gathering so many watershed pieces together, however, is no easy task and hopes that art lovers of all levels will see the show.

"We hope the public will appreciate that and come see all the nifty work," she said.

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