Columbia museum lands major exhibition

The Columbia Museum of Art will announce a major exhibition of centuries-old landscape masterworks today.

"Nature and the Grand American Vision: Masterpieces of the Hudson River School Painters" - part of "Sharing a National Treasure," the New-York Historical Society's traveling exhibition program - will open at the Columbia Museum in November 2011.

The 45 paintings represent the best of a 19th-century New York art movement. That movement's coterie of artists, dubbed the Hudson River School because of their studies and reflections on nature around the river, gave voice to the American landscape.

Their work captured what America looked like, their attention to minute details of nature very similar to the vicarious eye Ansel Adams used to photograph the American West. The paintings suggest an ever-shifting balance between humanity and nature, development versus preservation.

Linda S. Ferber, a senior art historian at the New-York Historical Society and the exhibition's curator, refers to the artists' study of nature as visual poetry.

"It's also a style or a vision," she said. "It was the mainstream way of looking at and thinking about and interpreting the American landscape."

"Nature and the Grand American Vision" will travel to only four museums, including the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.; and the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. Columbia will be the exhibit's the third stop.

The collection is touring while the New-York Historical Society's galleries are renovated.

A piece by S.C. native Louis Remy Mignot is featured in the show. Mignot's "The Harvest Moon" is a colorful delight of early-evening quiet. The centerpiece of the exhibition, in scale and significance, is the five-painting series "The Course of Empire," Cole's dialogue on humanity's effect on nature.