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Modern Dialect: American Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection, a striking new exhibition, opened at the Columbus Museum of Art June 6. The exhibition, on view through August 31, showcases American Modernist paintings from the 1920s to the beginning of World War II, a period marked by significant change and compounded by the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The more than sixty artists featured in Modern Dialect hail from all parts of the United States, and painted wherever they found inspiration. These artists adhere to a common interest, more than to a single style, in portraying their realities in a decidedly modern fashion. The exhibition reveals the scope of the American modernist aesthetic in the early 20th century, and the vision and integrity each artist brought to the representation of the American experience – from rural landscapes to modern industrial cities (and the people who inhabit them) to purely abstracted compositions.

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The Art Institute of Chicago announced that they have acquired Thomas Hart Benton’s (1889-1975) Cotton Pickers (1945), a critical example of American Regionalism, a realist modern art movement that gained popularity during the 1930s. Regionalist artists forsook urban life in favor of creating scenes of everyday rural life in America. Benton was a pioneer of the movement and is considered a pivotal figure in American art.

Cotton Pickers is a rare example of Benton’s large-scale paintings and it is the first oil painting by the artist to enter the museum’s collection. It will bolster the Art Institute’s world-renowned collection of paintings from the period, which includes Grant Wood’s (1891-1942) iconic painting American Gothic (1930) and John Steuart Curry’s (1897-1946) Hogs and Rattlesnakes (1930). The addition of Cotton Pickers helps the Art Institute tell the story of Regionalism more fully. Judith Barter, the Field-McCormick Chair and Curator in the American Art Department, considers the painting one of the museum’s most important acquisitions in the last several decades.

Cotton Pickers will be exhibited alongside American Gothic and Hogs and Rattlesnakes.

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