Opening to the public on Friday, Dec. 4 at Hunter Museum of American Art, “Seeking the Spiritual: The Visionary Art of Elliott Daingerfield” will feature the painted reveries and dreamscapes of turn-of-the-century artist Elliott Daingerfield.
Spanning the years between 1887 and 1920, the 48 paintings, pastels, and drawings in this exhibition explore Daingerfield’s interest in the intangible spiritual plane he felt existed beneath the surface of material things. Museum visitors will discover the mysteries of nature in his landscapes, the sacredness of Christianity in his religious pictures, and the spirit of place in his allegorical art. Through these themes, this exhibition delves into one of the many responses American artists had about the impact of modernization upon American society.
Painter, poet, author, and teacher, Daingerfield enjoyed enormous success in his lifetime. And, although his main studio was in New York City and his patrons hailed from New York, Boston, and Chicago, he was born and raised in the South and, as such, was one of the most important Southern artists of the era. Moving from the war ravaged South to the rapidly industrializing and booming economy of the Northeast, Daingerfield became concerned about the rampant materialism of the age and sought to create paintings that reconnected viewers with the spiritual.
Like his friend and mentor George Inness, Daingerfield felt art should engage a viewer’s emotions, elevating him or her to the realm of spiritual experience and transcending the everyday material world. He encouraged viewers to contemplate his paintings as a means of communing with the divine.
Contemporary commentators praised Daingerfield for his “ability to grasp the spiritual significance of a scene and give it a worthy imaginative embodiment.” In this regard, Daingerfield was part of a group of artists that included Albert Pinkham Ryder and Ralph Blakelock, whose aims and practices differed significantly from those of the American Impressionists, who also painted during this period. Daingerfield was not interested in capturing the fleeting appearance of a scene but rather painted from his imagination to express something far more difficult to discern: a sense of the timeless otherworldly forces that he believed animated the physical realm.
Hunter Museum will offer a variety of programs and events in celebration of the exhibition, including group tours, guest speakers, and public programming.
To learn more, visit www.huntermuseum.org.
Source: Hunter Museum of American Art