Ault on Paper

To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America

October 15, 2011—January 8, 2012

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Bloch Building, Gallery L3 & L4

Ticket Prices
Members: FREE
Adults: $8
Seniors: $7
Students: $5
Children 12 and under: FREE
Ticket includes admission for Impressions & Improvisations: The Prints of Romare Bearden

During the turbulent 1940s, George Ault (1891-1948) created precise yet eerie pictures that have come to be seen as some of the most original paintings made in America in those years. The beautiful geometries of Ault’s paintings make personal worlds of clarity and composure to offset a real world he felt was in crisis.

To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America recreates a moment when the country was rendered fragile by the Great Depression and made anxious by World War II. Although much has been written about the glorious triumph of the war, memories of the anxious mood of life on the home front—a place far from the battlefields and yet profoundly at risk—have dimmed. To Make a World sheds light on these memories and makes them newly relevant today.

The first major exhibition of Ault’s art in more than 20 years, To Make a World includes paintings, drawings, and prints by Ault and his like-minded contemporaries. The additional 22 artists represented in this exhibition include some as celebrated as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, while others such as Edward Biberman and Dede Plummer are less widely known. Taken together, their art reveals an aesthetic vein running through 1940s American art not previously explored.

Alexander Nemerov, the Vincent Scully Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, curated the exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Exhibition Programs

The Curator is IN!
7–8 p.m., Friday, December 2 | Gallery 219

Curator Stephanie Knappe discusses American art from the 1930s and 1940s in the Museum’s permanent collection.

A World Unhinged: Angst, Anger and Adjustment in Hollywood Films of the Forties
1–2 p.m., Saturday, December 3 | Atkins Auditorium

Using excerpts from classic Hollywood films, University of Kansas Professor Chuck Berg examines the dark side that haunted America’s greatest generation and that is echoed thematically and visually in Ault’s paintings.

Continue your journey into George Ault’s world —

Ault on Paper
Nelson-Atkins Building, Second Floor, Gallery 214

A recent gift of watercolors and drawings reveals the intriguing range of styles and varied subject matter that Ault explored throughout his creative career. 

Book Display and Resource List
October 1, 2011-January 8, 2012
Spencer Library Reading Room | Bloch Building

This book display and resource list includes titles on artists who were active during the 1940s. Also included are books about the art movements of Precisionism and Modernism, and items about the 1940s in general.

Image: George Ault, American, (1891-1948). Bright Light at Russell’s Corners (detail), 1946. Oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Lawrence.

To Make a World: George Ault’s 1940s America is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Delores and John W. Beck, James F. Dicke II, Barney A. Ebsworth, Tania and Tom Evans, and Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Barney A. Ebsworth, Tania and Tom Evans, Kara and Wayne Fingerman, Furthermore, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Foundation, Joffa and Bill Kerr, Robert S. and Grayce B. Kerr Foundation, John and Gail Liebes Trust, Paula and Peter Lunder, Betty and Whitney MacMillan, Margery and Edgar Masinter, Oriana McKinnon, Susan Reed Moseley, and Betty and Lloyd Schermer.  Additional funding is provided through the museum’s William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund and Gene Davis Memorial Fund. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum's traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.

In Kansas City the exhibition is supported by the Hale Family Foundation, Daniel P. Winter and the  Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for exhibitions. 

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