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Saturday, December 15, 2018

To Make a World

George Ault, Memories of the Coast of France, 1944. Oil on canvas. Manhattan Art Investments, LP George Ault, Memories of the Coast of France, 1944. Oil on canvas. Manhattan Art Investments, LP Photo by David Heald

George Ault and 1940s America

March 11–September 5, 2011
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
For information visit or call 202.633.7970

During the turbulent 1940s, artist George Ault (1891-1948) created precise, yet eerie pictures—works of art that have come to be seen, following his death, as some of the most original paintings made in American in those years. The beautiful geometries of Ault’s paintings make personal worlds of clarity and composure to offset a real world he felt was in crisis.

To Make a World captures a 1940s America that was rendered fragile by the Great Depression and made anxious by global conflict. Although much has been written about the triumph of the Second World War, what has dimmed over time are memories of the anxious tenor of life on the home front. Viewers will be brought back into the world of the American 1940s, not through grand actions, cataclysmic events, posters, or headlines, but through the least likely of places and spaces. The exhibition centers on paintings Ault made between 1943 and 1948, with additional works by twenty-two other artists, some as celebrated as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, and others scarcely known to today’s audience. From their remote corners of the country, these artists conveyed a still quietude that seems filled with potentialities.

The exhibition will travel to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, where it will be on view from October 8 to December 13, 2011, and then to the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia, from February 18 to April 16, 2012. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

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