The Thomas Cole National Historic Site has set record attendance numbers for their 2013 exhibition: Albert Bierstadt in New York & New England, which remains on view through November 3, 2013. As of the middle of July, attendance income was more than double the number from the previous year and has exceeded all previous records. The Thomas Cole site has recently announced plans to hire more touring staff to keep up with the demand.
The show everyone is taking about, Albert Bierstadt in New York & New England, was curated by Annette Blaugrund, former director of the National Academy Museum in New York City. The exhibit focuses on Albert Bierstadt’s east coast paintings and offers a rare opportunity to see these little known works. Bierstadt is best known for his iconic images of the American West, but in the new exhibition at the Thomas Cole Site visitors will see almost a dozen of Bierstadt’s paintings that depict the unspoiled wilderness, mountains, and meadows in the White Mountains and other scenic locations in New England and New York – including work made from his home and studio along the banks of the Hudson River.
Both large and small scale paintings were composed between the late 1850s and 1880s, often while the artist was selecting aesthetic sites for his brothers Charles and Edward to photograph for their stereographs. Opening a compelling connection between Bierstadt’s paintings and early photography, as part of the display visitors may see Albert Bierstadt’s paintings side-by-side with some of the same scenes depicted in stereographs made by his brothers. Visitors are also given the opportunity to handle and look through a vintage stereograph viewer themselves. Having previously written about Bierstadt in her book on the Tenth Street Studio Building, where the artist worked for almost twenty years, Dr. Blaugrund’s exhibition further addresses Bierstadt’s studios in New York City, Westchester, and Oneida County as they relate to his work.
A fully illustrated catalog with an essay by the curator is available at the Cole Site and by order through the website. For information about the show or to order the catalog please visit www.thomascole.org or call 518-943-7465.
UPCOMING: In conjunction with this exhibition, the historic site is hosting a “Bier-Fest” on Saturday August 17th to celebrate Bierstadt along with a tasting of locally brewed beers and German food. The following month, Laurie Dahlberg, professor of art history and photography at Bard College, will host a Stereographic Workshop at the Cole Site on Saturday September 14, 3 pm. Dahlberg will explain Bierstadt’s use of stereographs and then lead participants in making their own stereographs of the landscape.
Albert Bierstadt (1830 – 1902) was one of the most renowned landscape painters in the United States during the nineteenth century. Born in Germany to a family who emigrated to New Bedford, MA in 1832, Bierstadt was the epitome of the American success story, achieving fame and fortune through his dramatic panoramic paintings of the far west. Less known are his vibrant oil sketches and finished paintings of the White Mountains, Niagara Falls, the Catskills, and more in New York and New England, areas to which he returned time and again. At the height of his career in the 1860s and 1870s, Bierstadt’s paintings attracted an international audience and set record prices. By the 1880s interest in Hudson River School paintings waned and Bierstadt’s career plummeted. From rags to riches and back again, Bierstadt died in virtual obscurity in 1902.
About the Curator: Annette Blaugrund has published and lectured widely on diverse subjects in American art. She was formerly the director of the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts (1997-2007), and before that the Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator at the New-York Historical Society. For her many exhibitions and catalogues she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy in 2008, and was named a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1992, among other honors. Dr. Blaugrund currently sits on several boards, writes essays for museum catalogues, and consults with museums and foundations across the country. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University (1987) where for six years she taught American art and culture (1996-2001). Currently she sits on the Advisory Council of Columbia’s Art History department and is heading a graduate art history class to mentor students.
Albert Bierstadt in New York & New England is the 10th annual presentation of 19th century landscape paintings at the Thomas Cole site — an exhibition program that looks to foster discussion and understanding of the influence of Thomas Cole on American culture through a generation of artists known as the Hudson River School.
About the Thomas Cole National Historic Site: The Thomas Cole National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home and studios of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the nation’s first art movement. Cole’s profound influence on America’s cultural landscape inspires us to engage broad audiences through educational programs that are relevant today. The Thomas Cole Historic House is an independent non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Park Service.
DIRECTIONS: The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located in the scenic Hudson River Valley, at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. Located near the western entrance to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, with easy access from the New York State Thruway exit 21 or Amtrak train service in Hudson, detailed directions and more information can be found at www.thomascole.org or call 518-943-7465.
HOURS: The Main House, Old Studio and special exhibition are open by guided tour from 10 to 4pm, Wednesday through Sunday, May through November 3, 2013. Due to the popularity of the exhibition, visitors can request a gallery-only visit on the quarter past the hour from 12 to 4 pm. Grounds are free and open to the public from dawn until dusk.