Culminating Project Title
The Development of An Artist's Paradise: Minnesota Landscapes: 1840-1940
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
College of Liberal Arts
Don L. Hofsommer
Richard M. Rothman
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An Artist's Paradise: Minnesota Landscapes 1840-1940 was an exhibit that opened on January 25 and ran through June 22, 2003 at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, Minnesota. The exhibition featured oil paintings and works on paper of the Minnesota landscape by Minnesota artists. This thesis is a recap of the process of putting together the exhibition, the educational activities held during the exhibition, as well as the intellectual basis for the exhibition from the perspective of the co-curator.
The first chapter is a narrative that describes the co-curator's role in the location, selection and negotiations to obtain the necessary works of art for the exhibitions as well as the installation of the exhibit. It also describes the role of co-curator in the training of the museum docents and his participation in a curator's panel.
The second chapter is a discussion of the intellectual basis for the exhibition. The argument presented in the exhibition was that the early traveling artists, who first presented images of Minnesota's landscape to the rest of the country with their initial views of Minnesota, established a paradigm that later artists, with stronger ties to the state would cultivate. The model that these artists established was a belief in the potential of the land. The exhibit also examines the impact of impressionism and the impact of the variety of styles that constituted European Modernism on the artist's interpretation of the Minnesota landscape. No distinct "Minnesota style" emerges, but the exhibition provides a link to the artistic heritage of the nation with a Minnesota perspective.
The remainder of the thesis consists of brief biographical sketches of each artist whose work was in the exhibit, as well as text panels and label texts, and illustrations of the works.
Wittenbreer, William J., "The Development of An Artist's Paradise: Minnesota Landscapes: 1840-1940" (2004). Culminating Projects in History. 7.
The opportunity to co-curate an exhibition on Minnesota Landscape painters was a very rewarding experience on two levels. The first, and perhaps most important, was that as a collector of landscapes by Minnesota artists, this was indeed a collector's dream come true. Secondly, putting together the exhibition based on images introduced me to the unique and powerful language of the image as historical record. I would like to thank Lin: Nelson-Mayson, former curator of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, for asking me to co-curate the exhibition with her. Dr. Anita Gonzalez, Curator of the Minnesota Museum, provided an immense amount of moral support to me while I was working on this document, for which I am very grateful.
I would like to thank Dr. Don Hofsommer for allowing me to write this ''unconventional thesis," as well as Dr. William Morgan, also of St. Cloud State University, who generously gave of his time to read and comment on early drafts of this document, as well his encouragements "to keep writing."
Dixie Ohlander of the Augsburg College Library's Inter-Library Loan Department deserves a great deal of thanks. The high level of professionalism, maintained by Ms. Ohlander and her staff, matched by an uncanny ability to locate and retrieve obscure documents, Ms. Ohlander and her staff, Stefenie Noggle, Kevina Nakiwala and Libby Merrill, made much of this research possible. Ms. Ohlander also gave generously of her time to proof-read and edit this document.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this thesis to my sister, Mary Wittenbreer