Fourteen artists from nine countries reflect on our interactions with the natural environment in the Kreeger Museum’s 30th-anniversary exhibition titled Here, in this little Bay: Celebrating 30 Years at the Kreeger. The exhibition is on view from June 1, 2024–October 5, 2024.

Founded by David and Carmen Kreeger, the Kreeger Museum opened in 1994, featuring the couples’ collection of exquisite holdings in American and European modernism and African and Asian art in a stunning travertine and glass building designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster. The building, which had functioned as the Kreegers’ home since the 1960s, uniquely combines art, architecture and landscape in intimate galleries, verdant courtyards, and sculpture-filled grounds. This appreciation of the living environment, heightened by the presentation of exceptional land and seascape paintings by Max Beckmann, Pierre Bonnard, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and other distinguished artists in the permanent collection, inspired an anniversary exhibition that looks at artists’ changing approaches to the natural world since the French Impressionists worked en plein air during the late 19th-century. “This exhibition introduces a thought-provoking range of creative visions that address environmental disruption and sustainability today. It is an honor to have the work of these artists in our gallery spaces,” says Kreeger Director Helen Chason.

Comprising artists from Argentina, Burma, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Greece, Japan, Korea, Iran and the United States, the exhibition includes photographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures with both representational and conceptual approaches considered. Artists who explore the wondrous abstract structures and patterns of nature are complemented by those who more specifically investigate the ways that labor, migration, trade and conflict interface with the environment. Nature is contemplated as a model of endurance and growth, as well as an entity subject to extreme human interventions, including climate change and nuclear devastation.

“A group of ethereal waterscapes by Monet installed in galleries punctuated with windows that let the outside in, inspired me to gather an intergenerational, global group of artists–all now living in Maryland, Washington and Virginia–who view landscape and nature through a 21st-century lens,” observes guest curator Kristen Hileman. Hileman, who brings twenty years of experience as a curator at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Baltimore Museum of Art to the project, continues: “The work of creatives such as these has been and will be instrumental to developing more sustainable attitudes towards living together on our shared planet. Our perspectives have changed since 19th-century painters emphasized the untouched beauty of nature in their works. Artists still seek the sublime in the natural world, but they also make human impact visible. Awareness has grown even since the Kreeger opened its doors in 1994. As a point of reference, the well-known climate activist Greta Thunberg wasn’t born until 2003.”

The exhibition’s title is taken from the first line of Victorian poet Coventry Patmore’s (British 1823-1896) work Magna Est Veritas. The poem juxtaposes the ocean with town-life in a meditation on time and truth.

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