A Southern Collection presents select masterworks from the permanent collection of the Morris Museum of Art on the occasion of the institution's inaugural exhibition. Drawn from a comprehensive survey collection of painting in the South from the late eighteenth century to the present day, the museum's opening exhibit explores an artistic terrain as rich and diverse as the South itself, arranged in categories that reflect critical chronological developments in the art world. A survey of painting activity in the South begins with the travels of itinerant portrait artists working prior to the Civil War. At the same time, landscape painting encompasses a sensitive response to the swamps, bayous and fertile fields of the South. Late in the nineteenth century strong and vivid genre painting competes with the nostalgic effects realized by Southern impressionists, whose shimmering, liquid images are invested with an elusive spirit of place. In this century, those strains of realism and naturalism that characterize the classic body of Southern writing appear in the representational art of painters who defied the modern abstract dictum. And finally, the exciting, compelling works of a current generation of both self-taught artists and sophisticated contemporary painters complete this fascinating, though sometimes neglected, chapter in American art history.
ESTIL CURTIS PENNINGTON was educated at the University of Kentucky, the University of Georgia, and in the Smithsonian Institution Ph.D. program at George Washington University. Prior to becoming Curator of Southern Painting for the Morris Museumof Art, Mr. Pennington served on the staffs of the National Portait Gallery and the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian. He also served as the Director of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and Curator of Painting at the New Orleans Museum of Art.