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Maurice Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924) was a Canadian-born American painter whose work spanned the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. I found this press release about an upcoming exhibition, Prendergast in Italy, that sounds quite interesting especially since it will be at the Guggenheim in Venice next fall and winter. I like his watercolors but have never seen any of them in person; if I end up returning to Venice later this year, I’ll definitely go see this show. Most of the paintings included in the exhibition are of Venice but there are also views of Rome, Siena, and Capri.

The exhibition opens on July 18, 2009 at Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA, where it runs until September 20. From the WCMA website:

"Prendergast in Italy traces the footsteps of Maurice Prendergast as he painted his way through Italy in 1898-1899 and through Venice again in 1911. Approximately seventy watercolors, oils, and monotypes by Maurice Prendergast will be on view, along with related letters, prints, photographs, films, guidebooks, and sketchbooks to situate the work within the new visual culture that Americans had embraced by 1900."

Here's the schedule after Williamstown:

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (October 9, 2009-January 3, 2010)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (February 14-May 9, 2010.)

A few of his Venetian scenes (I don't know if these are in the show or not, they are just some that I like).

sanmarco.jpg

Campo Santa Maria Formosa

Campo-Santa-Maria-Formosa--Venice.jpg

venice.jpg

clocktower.jpg

From the press release:

"Maurice Prendergast made a name for himself in Boston and New York as a cutting edge Impressionist watercolorist who experimented with color monotypes. In his day, he was lauded by the more progressive art critics and attracted the support of modern art collectors. When he first departed for Italy (1898), he was an up-and-coming avant-garde artist who had recently returned to Boston from four years in Paris.

The body of work that Prendergast produced shows his struggle to pay homage to the great art he encountered in Assisi, Siena, Rome, and Venice while he grappled with the new realities of modern, unified Italy and the progressive art of his time.

Prendergast's interpretation of Venice captures a unique blend of old and new. Watercolors from his first trip to Italy are characterized by Prendergast's interest in the Italian flag and how it symbolized a "new" Italy; he depicted it many times during this first trip. These works were sent home and exhibited in Boston even while he was still abroad. In 1900, shortly after his return to America they were showcased in his first one-person show.

It was the Italian watercolors that catapulted Prendergast to a national reputation and a place among the most advanced artists in New York. Ten years later, after assimilating the new expressionistic and abstract art theories unveiled in Paris by Matisse, Picasso, and their circle, Prendergast again departed for Italy (1911). On his second trip, Prendergast focused on the bridges of Venice, applying his new style to the emblematic architecture of the canal city. This body of work shows the advances of abstract color and form that put Prendergast at the forefront of American modernism."

Here's a link to
The Complete Works

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Comments (16)

sandrac:

Very interesting, Annie. The watercolours you've reproduced here are lovely; I especially like the clock tower piece at the bottom.

His work is very different from what one usually sees in Italy. I have the impression that watercolours aren't so common there (or perhaps I've just always been too focused on frescos!)

Sandra, it's an interesting question. I've seen tons of watercolors in shops and kiosks in Venice, but they're all very recent (and of varying and sometimes dubious quality). Makes me wonder when watercolour actually began and whether or not Pendregast was a pioneer? It was definitely not a medium in the Renaissance, as far as I know.

Thanks for that interesting post Annie! I had never seen the "Clocktower" painting, it's beautiful! I have to run to the library to get my hands on a book on that painter!!

Annalivia, I found a website with the complete works of Prendergast but the link is on my work computer. I'll add the link when I get to work tomorrow.

I'm very intrigued by him and would really love to see these works in person.

The photos you are posting on your website are so wonderful, thanks! It's great to have another "see Venice in all her glory" site to visit. :)

Thanks for the information about his paintings viewing in MA - hope to get to it. I've seen some of his work - not sure if it was the MFA or Met in NYC. My knowledge of art is limited but I agree that watercolors were a medium after the Renaissance, and used by many French, Flemish and Dutch masters. The pieces you highlight here are interesting..Hope you get to view his work in Venice. menehune

Particularly like the Campo Santa Maria Formosa one. Am staying at the convent near it, again.

Lovely watercolors, and very interesting painter. I would also love to see that show, and would if I was in Venice at the time. I also like the clock tower painting, it is very unique.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, this is a very interesting post. I really enjoyed reading and learning more about Maurice Prendergast and his work. The ones you posted are very beautiful. That would be really cool if you are able to see some of his works in person at the Guggenheim exhibit.

Great post Annie!

I added a link to a site with his Complete Works.

Menehune, he did a bunch of paintings of Boston and other places in MA too.

Leslie! How exciting that you're returning to Venice! When are you going?

Candi, thanks. I'm curious about how big the paintings are in real life.

Kathy, I agree that it would be fun to see them at the Guggenheim. I'm still "on hold" about whether I'm going back this year but seeing this show would be very cool.

Thank you for this great post. I would love to see the show and this reminds me of two things I want to post on regarding my last trip to Venice. Love the watercolors and also the Peggy Guggenheim museum there. I'll be posting about her soon. Thank you for the impetus to do so.

Kim:

Lovely paintings - need to look, wonder if the show will be anywhere near NYC or Philly.

Barb, thanks and I'm looking forward to your post about Peggy!

Kim, I didn't see anything about it being in your area but maybe they will add some locales?

Thank you for introducing me to this artist and his beautiful and colorful work. Some of his paintings remind me of one of my all-time favorite painters, Van Gogh. Maybe it’s the sky in the second photo or the yellows and oranges on the third one. Love the cute parasols in the clock tower watercolor.

I’ll keep an eye on the exhibit in case they add a city near my state.

Maria, I like the parasols too and also the little cluster of pigeons in the bottom corner of that clock tower painting. :)

Angela:

Thank you for posting this! It is great to hear from many people who are interested in Prendergast! I am a student intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the show is beautiful! It is very comprehensive, and includes many of his source material and influences- you get a complete idea of his thought process.

I do hope that you get a chance to visit. There is nothing more remarkable than to see the work in its place of origin and inspiration!

Hi Angela, thanks so much for your comment. How wonderful to be an intern at that great museum. I'm sure you are enjoying your time in Venice so much!

I hope that I will be able to visit Venice during this show; I really would love to see his beautiful paintings in person.

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