The National Academy of Design (NAD) is pleased to announce the national tour of For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design, an exhibition created in collaboration with the American Federation of Arts (AFA). For America is the first exhibition to highlight the fundamental characteristic of the National Academy’s collection: the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with her or his representative work. The exhibition’s 100 extraordinary paintings present not only a visual document of the Academy’s membership but a unique history of American painting from 1809 to the present. The eight-venue tour will commence on February 20, 2019 at the Dayton Art Institute, Ohio, and then travel to the following institutions across the United States: New Britain Museum of American Art, CT (October 16, 2019 to January 26, 2020); The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL (February 15 to April 26, 2020); Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, TN (July 19 to September 27, 2020); New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe (October 22, 2020 to January 17, 2021); Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA (February 20 to May 9, 2021); Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA (June 6 to September 12, 2021); and one additional museum. The exhibition is curated by Diana Thompson, Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs, NAD; and Jeremiah William McCarthy, Associate Curator, AFA.
"For America offers a nuanced story of American art,” says Pauline Willis, Director and CEO of the American Federation of Arts. “The exhibition’s national tour will bring these important paintings to audiences across the country, enriching the dialogue of scholars, students, and artists of all ages with the first-hand experience of American masterpieces.”
From its founding in 1825 to the present, the NAD has required all Academicians elected to donate a representative work to the Academy’s collection, and from 1839 to 1994, the Academy also required Associates to present a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist. Exhibition co-curator Jeremiah William McCarthy, Associate Curator for the American Federation of Arts says: “Essentially, this exhibition presents the way artists see the world alongside the way they see themselves inhabiting that world. It’s an unprecedented look at the history of American painting written by its makers."
"This is the largest traveling exhibition of the Academy’s painting collection we have ever undertaken,” says Diana Thompson, exhibition co-curator and the NAD’s Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs. “It allowed us to include beloved icons, such as William Merritt Chase’s The Young Orphan, alongside lesser-known gems like Charles White’s Matriarch, which has recently undergone conservation and will be on view to the public for the first time in decades, as well as new gifts like Peter Saul’s Self-Portrait, the only one he’s made up to this point."