Past Exhibitions

Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Kimbell Museum - Louis Kahn
The driving reason to return to Fort Worth was to see the George Caleb Bingham exhibition at the Amon
Carter (a show that goes to St. Louis and then on to the Met in New York).
Bingham (1811-1879) was self-taught and was the first American artist to live west of the Mississippi River.  
Bingham studied the few art teaching texts which were available in his day.  It wasn’t until he went to
Dusseldorf in 1857 that he received “European training” which was deemed important for any American
artist interested in modernizing their skills.
Returning to America, Bingham became the first professor in the University of Missouri Art Department in
1877 (in France, Impressionism was just then hitting its stride).
Bingham “View of Pike’s Peak” 1872
This exhibition focuses on his River Paintings The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 positioned the Mississippi
River as the midpoint of the nation. Americans living along the eastern seaboard were increasingly
interested in what lay to the west. It was artists such as Bingham who fueled this interest. Bingham was not
only a very successful artist - he was also a engaged Whig politician who championed Federal funds to be
used in maintaining America’s waterways. Before the locomotive, commerce depended on our rivers.
“The Jolly Flatboatmen” 1846
The Carter exhibition presents 16 of Bingham’s River Paintings executed between 1845 and 1852 and
dozens of his highly practiced and exacting drawings The show is an effective scholarly education in
Bingham’s manner of working - a once-in-my-lifetime chance to learn about one of America’s great painters.

I was amongst those who thought the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth was devoted to Western art.
While Amon Carter (who started his fortune as a newspaper publisher) had a definitive collection of art by
both Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell (that served as the starting point of the museum in 1961),
this museum is an American Art museum with phenomenal holdings of some of the finest art produced in
Frederic Remington (1861-1909) 1902
Remington and Russell were terrific artists. They were able to capture action within expansive landscapes
that rendered life in the West in nearly cinematic scope. Remington once stated that “Cut down and out -
do your hardest work outside the picture, and let your audience take away something to think about - to
imagine.”  That is a lesson best heeded for any who wish to portray engaging narrative.
Will Rogers
Carter came to art collecting relatively late in his prosperous life. It was his friend Will Rogers, himself a
collector, who encouraged Carter to appreciate and acquire art.

Here are a few examples from the Carter’s phenomenal collection.
Olin Travis (1888-1975) was the founder of the first fine art school in Dallas.
I like the Texas Regionalists. To generalize, they had a sardonic, cartoonish manner of telling the stories of
Texas - much like this self-portrait.
Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) is most usually thought of for his luminous pantings of exotic birds and
flowers. This dark landscape of “Thunderstorm on Narragansett Bay” (1868) was unusual and provoked
much controversy amongst his audience. Heade was also self-taught.
Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)
This 1885 painting may have been part of Eakins’ undoing at PAFA.  Believing in the scientific basis of
motion, he believed knowledge of the human form was central (studying and drawing from medical school
cadavers).  This Eadweard Muybridge-like progression of the figures is Eakins at this best - correct
anatomy in motion with aesthetic excellence.  Unfortunately in Victorian Age Philadelphia all this was too
graphic (particularly as each of the figures in this painting were identifiable).  Utterly shocked by Eakins’
insistent and cavalier attitude towards nudity, he was fired as director of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
Hartley painted this painting (1916) just after returning from Germany where he had been active with the
Der Blauwe Reiter group.  He is a complex artist with broad strengths. In spiritual abstraction (this painting
must have been inspired by his Berlin buddies, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc), his years spent in
Europe demonstrate what was happening in the art scene around him.  Back in the US he chose to move
away from the art scene (living in Maine) where his work becomes American Modernism (as in Charles
Burchfield and Edward Hopper).
Charles Sheeler (1183-1965) 1940
The Amon Carter owns in excess of 100,000 works of art, 40,000 pieces by women artists.  They continue
to actively collect.  This is my second visit to the Carter - I am hooked.  It is a world class museum.
Edouard Manet (1832-1883)  1879
The Kimbell presents “Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from the Musee d’Orsay” in the Piano building.  
This is a big deal show that led me to yawn big.  I am so sick of seeing Impressionism - particularly Renoir
(as is featured in this show).
Velazquez (Spanish, 1599-1660) 1631
I understand the Impressionist brought new energy to classic painting forms - but to focus on Renoir and
only parenthetically show van Gogh, Gauguin, and  Caillebotte misses the point.
Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) 1814
The Kimbell has two buildings - the original Louis Kahn masterpiece and Renzo Piano’s recent addition.  
The campus, their collection, and programming are terrific.
James Ensor (1860-1949) 1889
Any opportunity to see Ensor is to be taken.  He was wacky way ahead of his time.  Living his whole life in
the very small town of Ostend, Belgium, his artistic expression hints at what is to come in the twentieth
David Bates (b. 1952) 1986
The third museum that completes the “row” of museums that are neighbors and make Fort Worth a best-in-
class art city is the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Tadao Ando architect).  Currently the Modern is
between shows.  Still it was easy to enjoy 2 hours engaged in their permanent collection.
The Nasher and the Dallas Art Museum are also between shows.  Fine collections make Dallas an easily
engaged art museum destination.  In three Fort Worth/Dallas days one can fill time with great art presented
Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay January 2015