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Maurer At The Vanguard Of Modernism

Le Bal Bullier, c. 1900-01, oil on canvas, 28 13/16” x 36 5/16”, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Mass.

Addison Explores Early 20th Century Paris
By James Dyment

Of course, any exhibition at the Addison Gallery of American Art is an educational experience. Susan Faxon, curator of art before 1950, did a wonderful job of summing up Alfred Maurer’s life during my visit.

“Alfred Maurer: At the Vanguard of Modernism” is an exhibition that takes a peek at what was happening at the turn of the 20th century in Paris. It has been carefully planned for approximately seven years by co-curators Faxon and Dr. Stacey Epstein, and is divided into five areas to organize the work in chronological order by room.

Maurer is one of the Americans who had the opportunity to create and absorb changes in the art movement of this time period. The largest of the five rooms reveals the beginning stages of his career. Several portraits in this area remind us of James McNeill Whistler’s portrait work. The paintings are more about carefully constructed compositions than the models in them. One of Maurer’s most important works, “An Arrangement,” which even has a title that mimics Whistler’s, put Maurer on the map.

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