"To See As Artists See: American Art from The Phillips Collection," in its final week at the Amon Carter in Fort Worth, moves through a tidy, accessible chronology of 20th century art. It doesn't delve into anything you'd be embarrassed to look at it with kids or grandparents, but it does offer such a wide range of styles that there's bound to be something satisfying to everyone. Its effort to seamlessly complement the Amon's own collection works to a fault: Impressionist cityscapes and countrysides, peppy abstractions, crisp experiments in Cubism - they bring contentment, if no surprises.
Even this show's paintings by Georgia O'Keefe are safely nonsuggestive. But without that hint of the erotic so often present in her work, an O'Keefe painting can still knock me out; here, it's "Pattern of Leaves" (1923), a reminder of the artist's underrated, spongelike ability to extract pure forms from the natural world. But in this show, it's the urban sensibility that shines, whether by the clarity of 1933 New York City at dawn in Edward Bruce's "Power" or Childe Hassam's breathy interpretation of young Greenwich Village in "Washington Arch, Spring" (1890). Stuart Davis' "Blue Cafe" is pastiche of textures that fooled me into thinking they were not, in fact, entirely oil paint; I thought he had fused paper and sandpaper into the work. Though the styles vary in tune with their times, life-in-the-city's brooding atmosphere, heavy with unspoken emotional dramas, was a welcome subject to Duncan Phillips, whose namesake collection became a Washington, D.C. museum in 1961, five years before his death.
To See As Artists See: American Art from The Phillips Collection runs through January 6th at Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
And now, a digital mini-tour of the show with something for everyone:
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Images courtesy of The Phillips Collection.