Sometimes we need to slow down and take a closer look at our surroundings. That’s exactly what the exhibition “Telling American History: Realism from the Print Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly” invites visitors of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, to do. It’s a stunning collection of 40 lithographs and etchings that capture the essence of America–but let’s face it, mostly New York–in all its new 20th century architectural and emotional glory. Together these images deliver the highly stylized, subjective portrait of an America that, whether it really existed or not, lives on powerfully in the world’s imagination. In fact it’s the world to which our current reality is so often unfavorably compared. Stow Wengenroth’s High Arches, Brooklyn Bridge, and Grand Central anchor the portrayal of America’s architectural achievements. And quiet moments of inner city life (Edward Hopper’s Night Shadows, 1921) and satirical scenes of pomp and circumstance (George Bellow’s Artists Judging Works of Art, 1916) show a nation capable of both lonesome contemplation and a sense of humor.
The collector, Dr. Kelly, is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with 40 years of experience. Looks like he might have had a good patient here: George Bellows’ Dempsey Through the Ropes, 1923.