Vivien Fryd, professor of history of art, taught a three-week course on American realism and surrealism in late August and early September at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. Fryd led participants in understanding major movements within American art history from 1920 to 1950 as represented by works in the current exhibit, Real/Surreal: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art that will be on view through October 13 at the Frist.
A survey of works from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s drawn from the Whitney, Real/Surreal examines American artists’ representations of reality as a subjective and malleable state of mind rather than a fixed truth. Influenced by European Surrealists of the 1920s like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, some American artists used the tools of illusionistic representation to subvert reality entirely, while others subtly tweaked the conventions of realism to turn the familiar into something unsettling and uncanny. Fryd examined works by Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Man Ray and Thomas Hart Benton, among others.
*Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Sunset, 1934, oil on canvas, 74.3 x 91.92 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York