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Art in the Age of Steam: Europe, America and the Railway, 1830-1960 Celebrates the Speed, Power and Drama of the Railroad and Its Impact on Artists

Nelson-Atkins and Community Partners Offer Railroad-themed Programming Kansas City, MO, Aug. 27, 2008 ­A major international exhibition opening this fall at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will capture the excitement and range of emotions that steam-powered trains elicited as railroads reshaped culture around the world. The exhibition, Art in the Age of Steam: Europe, America and the Railway, 1830-1960, open from Sept. 13 through Jan. 18, 2009, will feature more than 100 paintings, prints, drawings and photographs drawn from 64 museums and private collections. Art in the Age of Steam is the most wide-ranging exhibition ever assembled of American and European works of art responding to the drama of the railroad, from the earliest days when steam trains churned across the landscape through the romance of the Victorian era to the end of the steam era in the 1960s. The exhibition opened first at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, where it was on view from April 18 to Aug. 10. It drew more than 113,000 visitors and received excellent reviews in general and scholarly publications. Extensive exhibition-related programming has been developed not only at the Nelson-Atkins, but also with eight Kansas City-area community partners. -MORE-

In light of Kansas City's historic position as a railway town, this exhibition has strong local resonance. At the same time, it captures the international fascination with the steam train as both an inspiration for art and a life-changing experience for the world at large, said Marc F. Wilson, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director/CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. It is especially fitting that the exhibition arrives from Liverpool, another city with transportation at the core of its modern history. Among the works of art are modern and Impressionist masterpieces, including Edouard Manet's The Railway, Claude Monet's Gare Saint-Lazare, Gustave Caillebotte's On the Pont de l'Europe and Rene Magritte's Time Transfixed. The exhibition features works that span a variety of styles, from an early lithograph by John Cooke Bourne, No. 1 Tunnel, to Edward Hopper's modern Railroad Sunset, and Thomas Hart Benton's The Wreck of the Ole 97. Photography, which also came of age during the rise of steam trains, is represented with works by Alfred Steiglitz, Charles Sheeler, André Kertész and O. Winston Link. The exhibition demonstrates how art and technology came together to contribute to the definition of modernity, exemplified by the speeding up of modern life in an increasingly mechanical society, said Ian Kennedy, Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins, who co-curated the exhibition with Julian Treuherz, former Keeper of Art for National Museums Liverpool, England. Britain was the cradle of the railroad and Liverpool was a major railroad terminal. The railroad was critical for the westward expansion of the young United States, and Kansas City's Union Station was the nation's second largest railroad station after Chicago. The exhibition will be presented in six sections: The Formative Years in Europe explores the genesis of railroading in Great Britain and France. The Human Drama of the Railway focuses on classic topics of the Victorian railroad ­ the station and the passenger compartment ­ and includes Augustus Egg's masterpiece Travelling Companions. Crossing Continents: America and Beyond explores railroad expansion in the American Midwest and West and features the well-known Nelson-Atkins work by Thomas Otter, On the Road, as well as Albert Bierstadt, Donner Pass. Impressionism and Post-Impressionism demonstrates how artists captured both the power of the iron world and the psychological interplay of people in train stations. States of Mind surveys the depiction of the railroad in art movements of the late 19th and early 20th century, from Symbolism through Futurism, Expressionism and Surrealism, represented by Wassily Kandinsky, E.L. Kirchner and Giorgio de Chirico. The Machine Age moves from admiration of the power of steam and locomotive machine to the feelings of nostalgia as it declined in general passenger travel use. -MORE-

The Railway in Art Early observers viewed the steam train with combined wonder and fear. Many early prints and paintings explored the evolving landscape of the industrial age, punctuated with the bridges and viaducts built to accommodate the new trains. The view from the train car provided a new panoramic--almost cinematic--perspective. Particularly in the American west, broad landscape paintings illustrated the cinematic point of view from a railroad carriage, emblematic of the vast and unexplored frontier now made accessible by train travel. Prints and paintings also focused on train stations themselves as new centers of city life. Reactions were not purely celebratory, though: Honoré Daumier's realist works hinted at the anxieties of mixing with strangers of different classes in the closed compartments of a train car. Later in the 19th century, the French Impressionists latched onto the steam train as a symbol of modernity, simultaneously heralding and expressing anxiety about the fast pace of the new city. The train provided a convenient link between city and country, condensing what had previously been a day of travel time into an hour, and many Impressionist works explored the newly-accessible countryside as a site of leisure, a counterpoint to the bustling city. Stylistically, the bursts of steam spewed by the trains provided stunning illustrations of the emphasis on light and movement that characterizes Impressionism. In the early 20th century, modern artists used the train to explore abstracted depictions of speed and power in an increasingly mechanized society. Russian poster designers celebrated the train as the epitome of strength and power and as a valuable tool for a Socialist system. Art Nouveau travel posters, meanwhile, depicted the train as a sleek bullet and the essence of glamour. The railway continued to serve as a metaphor for power or the restlessness and alienation of modern life well into the 20th century, especially in the works of Hopper and Benton, but eventually with the increasing dominance of new forms of transport ­ railway art became imbued with nostalgia for a golden age, particularly after steam haulage was superseded by diesel or electric traction. Nostalgia for a vanishing age is poignantly expressed in the photography of O. Winston Link. Catalog A full-color catalog published by Yale University Press is directed at both art lovers and railroad enthusiasts. It opens with a historical introduction by Oxford University lecturer Michael Freeman, followed by an essay by University College London lecturer Matthew Beaumont on the railroad and literature. The catalog is divided into six sections written by the co-curators Kennedy and Treuherz, who address the ways in which various artistic schools and artists addressed the subject of railroads. The catalog also includes extensive technical notes on works exhibited, as well as a timeline and bibliography. The catalog will be available at the Museum Store. In addition to the catalog, the Museum Store will have a variety of railroad-related items for sale. Reproductions of various works -MORE-

from the exhibition will be available as well as t-shirts, books, stationery and products that will appeal to both adults and children. Community Partners The Nelson-Atkins is proud to join with the following Community Partners, who are celebrating the Age of Steam with their own railroad-related exhibitions and events: Johnson County Library Visit any of the Johnson County libraries in December for train-themed books, movies and activities. The Central Resource Library will also host a model train display during the month of December. Kansas City Public Library (See details in the lectures and film series sections below.) Linda Hall Library Locomotion Oct. 2, 2008­March 20, 2009 An exhibition on the early history of railroads and the use of steam for the purpose of locomotion, from the collections of the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology. University of Missouri­Kansas City, Miller Nichols Library All Aboard! Travel in the American Age of Locomotion Sept. 1, 2008­Jan. 31, 2009 The J.E. Lynn Railroad Memorabilia Collection recalls the era of luxurious and romantic train travel from 1896 to 1960. Photographs, postcards, tickets and more from the Zephyr and Dome trains. The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial Railroads and World War I: A Special Exhibition Sept. 13, 2008­Jan. 17, 2009 Railroads were the backbone of the war effort, moving men, food, guns and the wounded. This special exhibition in the Museum's Research Center Gallery holds original photographs, tickets, maps and documents. Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City (See details in family events section below.) -MORE-

Union Station Kansas City Spencer Art Reference Library, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Rails, Trains and Stations: The Railroad in Art and Architecture Sept. 8, 2008­Jan. 30, 2009 This book display from the Library collections features titles about the railroad in art, travel advertising posters and architecture. Lectures Victorian Artists and the Railway Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 2­3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13 Join Julian Treuherz, co-curator of the exhibition and former Keeper of Art Galleries, National Museums Liverpool, for this opening-day lecture. The Railway in the Landscape Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 2­3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19 Sir Neil Cossons, Pro-Provost and Chairman of Council of the Royal College of Art, draws on a wealth of contemporary visual material to illustrate the impact of the railway on the landscape. The Impressionists and the Railroad Truman Forum Auditorium, Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St. 6:30­7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29 Call 816.701.3407 to RSVP Ian Kennedy, co-curator of the exhibition, discusses the Impressionists' response to the railroad in France during the late 19th century. A public reception precedes the lecture at 6 p.m. The above program is made possible through a collaboration with the Kansas City Public Library and The NelsonAtkins. David Lean and the Romance of Steam Locomotion Truman Forum Auditorium, Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St. 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2 Call 816.701.3407 to RSVP Film expert David Kipen, Director of Literature at the National Endowment for the Arts, leads this -MORE-

illustrated presentation on the inimitable British filmmaker David Lean, who never outgrew his love for the greatest camera subject of them all, the train. Painting America's Promise: How Rails Made the West Our Nation's Studio Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 2­3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 Peter Hassrick, Director of the Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum, explores the relationship between railroads and artists who used the system as they explored the West. Dreams of Empire: Kansas City and the Railroads Kansas City Public Library, 14 West 10th Street 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18 More than any one industry, railroads made Kansas City the regional metropolis it has become. Railroad History editor Peter A. Hansen tells the story. Performances Readings in the Galleries: Arrivals and Departures Galleries L13 and L14 at the Nelson-Atkins 6:30 p.m., repeated 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Oct. 10 and 24 Exhibition ticket required Enjoy short excerpts from novels, letters and poems presented by members of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. The above program is made possible through a collaboration between the Kansas City Public Library. The Wilders: Riding the Rails Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 7­8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2 Kansas City's unique string-band, The Wilders, present a fast-paced, high-riding journey through English and American folk music traditions. The General ­ Live! Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 -MORE-

Buster Keaton's silent film masterwork The General gets a fresh screening with a new, innovative soundtrack composed and performed by Kansas City's Dwight Frizzell, Jeffrey Ruckman and Pat Conway. Family Events The Jolly Trolley Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 1 p.m., repeated 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 Bob Kramer's Marionettes of St. Louis presents this delightful performance all about train travel. Hear that Lonesome Whistle: What Train Songs Tell Us about America Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28 Writer and broadcaster Michael Lasser, host of the national radio show Fascinatin' Rhythm, will combine humor and anecdote with recorded song selections that reflect the railroad's golden age. The Story of the Orphan Train Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Ticket required 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29 Part theater, part storytelling, Pippa White brings to life the orphan trains that delivered homeless children from urban streets to foster families in the Midwest. Steam Engine Toys Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10 Admission required Learn how steam engines actually function by exploring the toy steam engines in the collection. FREE Saturday Movie Matinees The Nelson-Atkins and the Kansas City Public Library invite you to enjoy classic films that celebrate trains in all their glory. The following films will be shown in Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins. FREE. Tickets required. -MORE-

Brief Encounter (1945) 1:30 p.m. Sept. 27 Follow two innocents as their chance rail station meeting blossoms into a furtive relationship. The Train (1965) 1:30 p.m. Oct. 25 A courageous French railway official pits himself against World War II Germans to preserve a priceless collection of art. Closely Watched Trains (1967) 1:30 p.m. Jan. 10 Oblivious to the surrounding Nazi occupation, a young train dispatcher experiences a sexual awakening. The following films will be shown at the Durwood Film Vault, Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., Kansas City, MO. The Iron Horse (1924) 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1 Director John Ford's silent feature about the opening of the West Union Pacific (1939) 1:30 p.m. Nov. 8 Cecil B. DeMille's epic on the building of the transcontinental railroad Silver Streak (1976) 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15 Hijinks galore with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor Murder on the Orient Express (1974) 1:30 p.m. Nov. 22 An all-star cast in an Agatha Christie mystery The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953) 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29 A quaint English village is up in arms over closure of their railroad


Grant support The exhibition is supported in Kansas City by funding from BNSF Railway, the Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Fund, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Union Pacific and the Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for Exhibitions. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Midwest Airlines is the official airline sponsor. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America's finest encyclopedic art museums. The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access and insight into its renowned collection of more than 33,500 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings and modern sculpture. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region and a national model for arts education. The Nelson-Atkins' expansion is also leading a field of new investments in local cultural infrastructure that is becoming known as Kansas City's $6 Billion Renaissance. The recently completed 165,000-square-foot Bloch Building by Steven Holl Architects was a major milestone in the ongoing institution-wide transformation of the Nelson-Atkins. The multi-year project also encompassed the renovation of the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building and the expansion of the Museum's renowned Kansas City Sculpture Park, and continues with renovations to the American and American Indian galleries as part of the reinstallation of the encyclopedic collection. The expansion increased Museum space by 71 percent, providing new galleries, educational facilities and Museum-support spaces. The Museum raised more than $200 million for the renovation and expansion, and $170 million to grow the endowment fund. The expanded resources ensure that the institution continues to attract and engage the next generation of audiences and is equipped to present and interpret the art of the past, present and future. The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak streets, Kansas City, Mo. Hours are Wednesday, 10 a.m.­5 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 10 a.m.­9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.­5 p.m. Admission to the Museum's permanent collection is free to everyone. Additionally, newly produced audio guides are free for visitors, presenting art & architecture tours, overall collection highlights, and select special exhibitions tours. For Museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit


For media interested in receiving further information, please contact: Randy Attwood The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 816.751.1321/816.582-8753 (cell) [email protected]

Image: Pierre Fix-Masseau, French (1905 ­ 1994). Exactitude. 1932. Color Lithograph, 39 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches (99.7 x 61.6 cm.) Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Modernism Collection. Gift of Norwest Bank Minnesota.



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