Thomas Sully: Painted Performance
February 8, 2014 – May 11, 2014
The American Romantic painter Thomas Sully (1783–1872) had a lifelong connection to and love for the theatre, associations that were critical components of his artistic imagination. When viewed through the lens of theatre, Sully’s portraits and numerous subject pictures take on a striking coherence., complementing one another and revealing the breadth and unity of his artistic production. Throughout his career, Sully continued to paint leading actors of the day— both in and out of character.
The theatricality of Sully’s paintings extends beyond subject matter. It also imbues his method of working and the ways in which his sitters perform. Sully orchestrated drama, performance and a heightened sense of activity to great effect throughout his long career.
All portraiture is, in effect, a performance: the artist, sitter and viewer each plays a role in the successful creation of the portrait. This exhibition is no different. Come see and be part of the show starting on February 7th in the Cowden Exhibition Hall, when the curtain goes up.
Thomas Sully: Painted Performance is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and curated by William Keyse Rudolph, The Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts, MAM, and Carol Eaton Soltis, Project Associate Curator, Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art.