Monday, May 09, 2011

Early Texas Art

In April, I was fortunate enough to travel to Dallas to attend the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art’s (CASETA) 9th Annual Symposium on Early Texas Art. The presentation topics ranged from the art of early landscape painters to the modernist movement of the 1940s through the 1960s. And yes, there was surprisingly a strong modernist art movement in Texas!

So what is early Texas art? According to CASETA, it is art created by artists who were born in and/or lived and worked in Texas through 40 years prior to the present date. There are so many people that do not realize Texas art has had such a varied and interesting history. When you think of Texas art you may think of cowboy and bluebonnet paintings, but don’t stop there - there was more! There were the regionalist depictions of industrial and rural life by a group of artists called the Dallas Nine. In Fort Worth, there was a group of modernists that would be later tagged with the name the Fort Worth Circle. And perhaps one of the most interesting groups was the artists that came to Austin to form and develop the Art Department at the University of Texas Austin in the 1940s like Everett Spruce, Seymour Fogel and William Lester. In my opinion, the power of Texas’ early art is its focus on the region’s unique and diverse landscape, people and culture. If you are interested in finding out about early Texas art, Austin Public Library provides many books about the art and artists. The following are just a few of the titles in the Library's collection:

Texas modern: the rediscovery of early Texas abstraction (1935-1965)

Texas: 150 works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Intimate modernism: Fort Worth Circle artists in the 1940s

Black art in Houston: the Texas Southern University experience : presenting the art of Biggers, Simms and their students

Lone star regionalism: the Dallas Nine and their Circle, 1928-1945

Painting Texas history to 1900

Art for history's sake: the Texas collection of the Witte Museum

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