Record Numbers Turn Out for Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) The Disciples see Christ Walking on the Water, c. 1907. Oil on canvas, 51 x 42 in. Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, Permanent Collections; Gift of the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts.The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) saw a record visitor turnout on the opening weekend of Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, a major exhibition of artwork by African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, on view through April 15.

The exhibition contains more than 100 works, including 12 paintings that had never been shown in a Tanner retrospective. It also includes Tanner’s famed Resurrection of Lazarus, from the collection of the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, a career-making canvas that earned Tanner his first international praise when it was exhibited in 1897 and which had never crossed the Atlantic.

“Henry O. Tanner is a transcendent figure both in art and in the history of America,” remarks Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. “His compelling story and rich body of work make for a superb national traveling exhibition.”

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) Portrait of Booker T. Washington, 1917 Oil on canvas, 31 x 25 5/8 in., State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, IA.Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit delves into the life and career of Henry O. Tanner from his upbringing in Philadelphia in the years after the Civil War; through the artist s training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; his success as an American artist at the highest levels of the international art world at the turn of the 20th century; his role as an elected leader of an artist s colony in rural France; his unique contributions in aid of servicemen during World War I through the Red Cross in France; his modernist invigoration of religious painting deeply rooted in his own faith; and Tanner s depiction of the Holy Land and North Africa.

After premiering at PAFA, the show will travel to the Cincinnati Art Museum, from May 26 – September 9, 2012, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, from October 14, 2012 – January 6, 2013. Exciting education and community events will occur at PAFA throughout the run of the exhibition and free Sunday admission is offered while the exhibition is on view.

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