THE GILDED AGE opens at Philbrook Sunday

Thursday, September 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's Philbrook Museum of Art will open its fall exhibition this weekend with a collection from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The show features works by some of America's best artists from the late 1870's to 1920's. The News on Six's Glenda Silvey has a preview.

Hanging the new fall exhibition reminds Philbrook workers of its major French Impressionist Show this time a year ago, which drew the largest audiences in the museum's history. Curators say the Smithsonian Show, called "The Gilded Age," offers visitors a look at the other side of the Atlantic." Christine Kallenberger with Philbrook: "The opulent paintings being done by American artists at exactly the same period. So I think people will find it very appealing." The Smithsonian collection includes 60 paintings and sculptures reflecting turn of the century America, a time one historian says was characterized by ambition, national pride, and eagerness to match European aristocracy.

The phrase "gilded age" was coined by writer Mark Twain, and not, Kallengerger says, in a flattering way. "As opposed to the golden age of Greece, the gilded age of American industrialist materialism. But the works in this exhibition really reflect the tastes of the newly minted millionaires in American society." Kallenberger says many of those millionaires enjoyed having their portraits painted, and the Gilded Age features a gallery full of exceptional examples, including this work by renowned portrait painter John Singer Sargent. There are twelve sculptures represented in the collection reflecting the period when American sculptors first mastered the art of bronze casting. Kallenberger points out that along side the examples of opulent society are works with intense religious themes, as though artists struggled to balance the materialism of the time with spirituality.

The show is one of eight touring the nation from the Smithsonian while it is under construction. "It's really an opportunity for them to fulfill their national obligation to serve the entire country and they certainly are through a lot of exhibitions right now." Philbrook says it's a rare opportunity to see works characterizing a time of great change in American history and great achievement in American art.”

The Gilded Age" opens to the public Sunday, September 9th, and runs through November 4th. There are a number of special programs scheduled, contact Philbrook for more information.