A miscellaneous selection of paintings we especially like—with some reasons (historical and otherwise) why
Gathering pictures for this magazine over the years, we have learned that we can’t simply wait for an article to be scheduled and then try to find the ideal scenesetter or the work that perfectly sums up all that has gone before. So throughout the year, we review art magazines, attend gallery openings, and send away for exhibition catalogs from museums around the country, keeping an eye out for those images that might someday open or end a story, or even make a cover.
The paintings offered here are ones that captured our interest during the past year but which we couldn’t quite work into the magazine. So, following the annual custom of many art galleries, we decided to present them all at once in a mid-winter show. Each one evokes its time or place or subject so forcefully that it can provide historical evidence in much the same way as a shard of pottery. An advertisement in the background, a detail of dress or gesture, a style of interior decoration—any of these can offer historical insight and call up a flood of associations.
A few of the artists represented here, like Childe Hassam and Winslow Homer, have long been as interesting to dealers and museum curators as they are to us: their place in the annals of American art is secure. But many are no better known than, for instance, Charles Courtney Curran, who painted the woman hanging out her laundry on page 85. The Inventory of American Paintings in Washington, D.C., lists more than seven hundred works by Curran, but his name doesn’t appear in any standard books on American art. He deserves wider recognition. Meanwhile, we’re holding onto a transparency of another of his paintings with the hope that one day we can find a reason to put it on our cover.