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Art Opening: The Dance of Life: Figure and Imagination in American Art, 1876–1917

September 6 @ 10:00 am

September 6, 2024 – January 5, 2025

In an era of sweeping change following the devastation of the Civil War, an ambitious generation of American artists adopted the human figure as their focus. Showcasing more than one hundred studies related to major commissions for the Boston Public Library, Library of Congress, Pennsylvania State Capitol, and other civic institutions, The Dance of Life explores the American Renaissance, a pivotal yet neglected period in American art. More than the final murals and monuments—executed mostly by assistants—these expressions of ideas in formation show the artists in dialogue with the urgent questions of their time. On view are intimate pencil sketches, sensuous pastels, dynamic bronzes, and virtuosic oil studies by Edwin Austin Abbey, Edwin Blashfield, Daniel Chester French, Violet Oakley, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and John Singer Sargent—celebrated artists then and now. Displayed alongside are works by talents deserving of more attention, including Meta Warrick Fuller, Evelyn Longman, and Gari Melchers. Featuring vibrant artworks rarely seen in public, the exhibition reveals how artists shaped their visions, learned from one another, and developed a visual language that captivated a divided nation.

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