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Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine
?Paint should not be applied thick,? James McNeill Whistler once famously stated. ?It should be like breath on the surface of a pane of glass.? Through an innovative manner of handling paint, a group of American artists around 1900 created deceptively simple canvases that convey images of shimmering transience, visions suggested rather than delineated. Focusing on this singular aesthetic characteristic?softness?Like Breath on Glass explores this painterly phenomenon through works by fifteen important artists, ...
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“Paint should not be applied thick,” James McNeill Whistler once famously stated. “It should be like breath on the surface of a pane of glass.” Through an innovative manner of handling paint, a group of American artists around 1900 created deceptively simple canvases that convey images of shimmering transience, visions suggested rather than delineated. Focusing on this singular aesthetic characteristic—softness—Like Breath on Glass explores this painterly phenomenon through works by fifteen important artists, including Whistler, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, John Twachtman, and Edward Steichen.
Leading scholars in American art consider a wide variety of topics: the very different motives—technical, social, religious, and scientific—that prompted these artists in their experimentation; their materials; their techniques for creating the appearance of effortlessness; period notions of “the vague” through art and writing; and the revival of "painting softly" in the 1950s and 1960s. This beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated catalogue highlights a surprisingly understudied yet important aspect of American cultural and painterly achievement.
The American artist James McNeill Whistler stated, "Paint should not be applied thick. It should be like breath on the surface of a pane of glass." This catalog of a 2008 exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, explores this aesthetic as seen in the work of Whistler and other American artists active from 1870 to 1920. These artists, sometimes called tonalists, used thin layers of paint to create soft, indistinct compositions. The introduction by Simpson (curator of American art, Clark Art Inst.) is followed by essays on Whistler, George Inness, a group of younger artists working in a similar manner, and tonalist techniques and materials. The 41 color plates include both paintings and photographs; each work is presented on its own page. Two essays conclude the catalog-the first on abstract expressionist artists who worked much as the tonalists did, and the second on the 1972 exhibition The Color of Mood, which first described tonalism as a uniquely American movement. This informative catalog is highly recommended for art history collections.
Painting Softly - An Introduction Marc Simpson Simpson, Marc 3
Whistler, Modernism, and the Creative Afflatus Marc Simpson Simpson, Marc 25
George Inness, Softness, and the Vapor Barrier Leo G. Mazow Mazow, Leo G. 53
True Illusions in Soft Paintings Cody Hartley Hartley, Cody 73
Materials for Immateriality Joyce Hill Stoner Stoner, Joyce Hill 91
The "Inaction Painters" and Their Moment Michael J. Lewis Lewis, Michael J. 195
Reflections on "The Color of Mood" Wanda M. Corn Corn, Wanda M. 209
App The Color of Mood: American Tonalism, 1880-1910 228
Selected Bibliography 255