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The Restless Spirit: American Art from the Collection

February 16, 2013 - October 23, 2016

Marvin Cone, Tramp Comedian, 1945. Oil on canvas, 20 x 18 in. Gift of Peter O. Stamats in memory of H.G. Fed Hedges. 91.4
The result of a multi-year project investigating how museums across the country have created innovative approaches to the presentation of American art, this exhibition takes a different look at the CRMA’s diverse holdings of American art.  The Restless Spirit is a revolving four-gallery presentation that takes in-depth looks at recurring themes in American art.  As part of the new approach, entire galleries are dismantled and reinstalled on a periodic basis, approximately every six to eight months, allowing repeat visitors the opportunity to see multiple themes in American art in depth and to consider how these themes resonate with each other.  Previous themes dealt with the freedom of religion, the settlement and expansion of the young country, the nation going to war, and citizens exercising their right to vote.  The themes currently on view include The Nation Plays, The Nation Performs, The Nation Travels, and The Nation Travels Abroad. 

Americans have always found ways to amuse themselves.  The Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century gave rise to more free time and inspired American artists to create a new genre showing Americans in a variety of past-times.  Representations of fishing, swimming, and playing games all became more common in paintings, prints, and drawings.  Depictions of performers in art are as varied as the performances themselves, from Abraham Walkowitz’s evocative images of dance pioneer Isadora Duncan to Marvin Cone’s colorful circus imagery.  As America became more prosperous and modes of transportation easier, travel became a possibility for many Americans and trips, both domestic and abroad, began in earnest.  America became a nation of drivers, of roadside picnickers, and of cross-country road trippers.  Americans traveled to Europe with greater ease and frequency as did artists like Grant Wood who traveled to Europe and experimented with new techniques, styles, and subject matter which he then brought home.  The installation of these works continues the CRMA’s ongoing investigation of what is American about American art. 

This exhibition has been made possible in part by the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Renewal Fund, the Hotel-Motel Tax Fund, Rockwell Collins, the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Program Grant Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. 


on 08/24/16
Wonderful exhibit and wonderful museum! Really want prints of most of the works!!!
on 10/05/13

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