The holiday season—whatever your personal traditions may be—is often associated with gifts given and received, celebrations with friends and family, and an appreciation of warmth, light, and comfort in a season of cold and darkness. It’s also a good time to remember that, despite the winter chill, the hours of daylight are actually increasing with each passing day. The winter solstice—December 21, the longest night of the year—heralds the return of light and warmth!
Crystal Bridges is closed today for Christmas, but we will share with you this image of The Studio, by George Wesley Bellows, 1919.
The Studio is a charming portrait of an artist and his family at Christmas. In the foreground, Bellows paints his wife, Emma, while the couple’s two daughters, Jean and Anne, play under the decorated tree. In the background, Emma’s mother makes a telephone call with the help of a family servant, and up on the mezzanine, lithographer Bolton Brown is hard at work at Bellows’s printing press.
This comforting scene—depicting the making and appreciation of art among family and friends —is a perfect representation of the mission and purpose of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We are delighted to be able to give to our guests the gift of great works of art. In return, we receive the pleasure of providing a place where all are welcome to enjoy the power of art, the beauty of nature, and the joy of sharing those with friends and family.
Across cultural traditions, races, ages, and widely divergent tastes, art nevertheless manages to touch that which is vital and quintessentially human in everyone: the ability to perceive, shape, and interpret our world. Art is both uniquely personal to the maker and universal to the receivers. It sparks our curiosity, draws out our imaginations, challenges our thinking, and delights our hearts. What better way to celebrate a season of joy and light?
Bellows’s painting also demonstrates the artist’s aesthetic engagement with Modernism. After the Armory Show of 1913, Bellows created compositions that were influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso, as well as by Marcel Duchamp’s infamous Nude Descending a Staircase (1912, Philadelphia Museum of Art). The preparatory work Bellows has done on the canvas of his wife, at left, features asymmetrical divisions suggesting his new formal interests. You can see the work of American and European Modernists in the current exhibition, The Artists’ Eye: Georgia O’Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, which is on view throughout the holiday season.
Art can excite an interest in something new: not just for artists, who often become inspired to try new things themselves when they see innovative by fellow artists, but also for regular folks. Art opens our minds to new ideas as well as new ways of expressing and grappling with old ideas or problems.
The Museum will be open again on Dec. 26, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Come join us and see where the art leads you! We would love for you to make Crystal Bridges a part of your family holiday celebrations!