Crystal Bridges, a stunner | Rock Candy

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crystal Bridges, a stunner

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 7:18 PM

I know you've been hanging on waiting for the post that Max Brantley posted would come about 7 hours ago, and I didn't want to disappoint, so here's an opener:

We're Glad You're Here from Crystal Bridges on Vimeo.

This was played on a huge screen at the end of the downtown ceremonies (good crowd, filling most of the square) followed immediately by the William Tell Overture played by a portion of the Razorback band. Then hi-ho, Silver, it was off to the museum, with buses hauling people in 200 an hour loads.

At Crystal Bridges today
  • At Crystal Bridges today

I'm writing a story about the museum in next week's paper and have written previously about the works therein. Today, my third visit, held another surprise, because you just can't see it all in one visit: a small gallery named devoted to George Catlin, Peter Rindishbacher, Karl Bodmer, etc. — "the Explorer Artist Tradition of the 1820s and 1830s." Not only were there incredible pencil drawings and watercolors and more in this gallery, there were books printed in the middle of the 19th century that included engravings by the artists, including a copy of Catlin's 1845 North American Indian Portfolio.

Why talk about this small gallery when there are huge paintings by Ken Noland and Adolph Gottlieb and a tapestry by Kara Walker and Durand and Eakins and Inness and Sully etc. etc. etc.? To point out that Crystal Bridges is more than just a great museum (and it is a great museum, don't doubt it for one minute) but also a library of thousands of volumes of works that expand on the value of the art as American history as interpreted by our most famous and talented ... and opinionated ... observers.

You can see lots of pictures taken by Brian Chilson at

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