Watercolors Unboxed

The Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, is home to one of America’s best collections of watercolors, yet their sensitivity to light means that many of the finest examples have not been exhibited since the 1980s. Now the museum has organized “Watercolors Unboxed,” its first show dedicated to the medium in more than a decade. The exhibition will run through September 10, 2023.

Curator Nancy Kathryn Burns has selected 40 works dating from the 1870s through the 1950s, encompassing American talents like Hassam, Kent, Sargent, and Wyeth, as well as such European counterparts as Modigliani, Kokoschka, and Nolde.

Together, their watercolors trace how this medium was used to document the artists’ travels, often while working outdoors, and also how it leaves little room for mistakes, as the colors can easily get muddy or the paper soggy. Here, Winslow Homer’s “Old Friends” is a brilliant example of how the artist made adjustments as he worked, sometimes even scraping the paper to create spatial depth.

The museum is also debuting examples of its watercolors from the San Ildefonso School, a collective of Native American modernists who worked in the Southwest during the first half of the 20th century.

In addition, a selection of watercolors created by locals who have studied art at the museum will be displayed in a community gallery just outside the exhibition entrance.

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.


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