Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life - 6abc Loves the Arts

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Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life is on display through January 10th. (WPVI)

From masterpieces by John James Audubon to Andy Warhol, a new exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art looks at the art of American Still Life.

The exhibition covers the history of American still life from its beginnings in the late-1700s to the Pop Art Movement of the 1960s, and Philadelphia plays a major role.

"We've got 130 works of art by 90 different artists, 45 of whom are from Philadelphia," says Mark Mitchell, Curator of Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life.

The exhibition walks viewers through four periods of practice, "We've arranged each section to have a period feel," Mitchell says, "and we want that to come to life for people."

After the Hunt, a painting from the late 1800s, originally hung in a New York City saloon, and so Mitchell says visitors to that era's gallery will feel as if they've traveled back in time.

"It was so wildly popular that the owner Theodore Stewart said that it had triple the attendance of any other bar in America, and it was a very important place because it reflected the values of the times."

There's an area where visitors can sit and converse about the feelings the painting evokes.

"Each section really has some dominant voices," says Mitchell, "In the first section, it's really Raphaelle Peale and John James Audubon, who are the first sort of leading voices of the exhibition."

There are paintings by Georgie O'Keefe and some of the leading names in Modernism, and collectively, Mitchell says, the works explore why still life was so meaningful, "Why did it emerge, why did it have such prominence, and why was it so significant to Americans during those times?"

And rather than large galleries filled with works, the exhibition is broken up into small ensembles.

"I really think that people's jaws will drop when they turn the corner into a new gallery and see one of these great works of art beckoning from across the way," says Mitchell.

Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life is on display through January 10th. For tickets, go to www.TheArtsInPhilly.org.
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