August 23, 2011 — Urban realism, with a touch of Renaissance idealism, was the bread and butter of the Fourteenth Street School, a group of New York artists who made their mark between the world wars. A new exhibition at the University of Virginia Art Museum, "Figure Study: The Fourteenth Street School and the Woman in Public," draws on the museum's collection of paintings, prints and drawings by these artists.
The exhibit opens Aug. 26 and runs through Dec. 23. The museum is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Artists including Kenneth Hayes Miller, Isabel Bishop, Guy Pene du Bois and Reginald Marsh, who all lived and worked in the Union Square neighborhood and studied or taught at the Art Students League, created a typology of urban dwellers, depicting them in various public and private activities.
Through these modern urban types, they cataloged changes in social and sexual politics that took place in the first half of the 20th century, according to exhibit curator Melissa Ragain, former museum Luzak-Lindner Fellow and an art history Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences' McIntire Department of Art.
"It was in these changes that the painters of Fourteenth Street located their modernity, albeit with a painterly style indebted to Renaissance art," Ragain said.
Members of the group associated aspects of contemporary womanhood with the bodily types of Titian, Raphael and Rubens, their interest buttressed by the Art Student League's emphasis on life drawing courses for both male and female students. Unlike the abstract painters who were their neighbors, the Fourteenth Street School depicted rapid social change through the enduring subject of the human form, as they searched for a Renaissance ideal among the crowds of Union Square.
The exhibit will be one of the shows featured at the museum's Final Friday reception Aug. 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Admission to Final Friday is free for museum members and U.Va. students, thanks to Arts$. A $3 admission fee is charged to non-members.
The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Albemarle Magazine, Arts$, B. Herbert Lee '48 Endowed Fund, The Hook, Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book and the U.Va. Art Museum Volunteer Board.
For information visit the museum's website or call 434-924-3592.