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Art from the Graham Williford Collection at the Tyler Museum of Art

In the Mist of the Early Morning by Unknown Artist, 1880

In the Mist of the Early Morning by Unknown Artist, 1880

Studiously Slangy and Bohemian: The Tile Club–Artists of America’s Aesthetic Movement from the Graham Williford Collection
Tyler Museum of Art
December 14, 2010 through February 20, 2011

The Tyler Museum of Art examines the late 19th Century expression of an American aesthetic with the exhibition “Studiously Slangy and Bohemian,” The Tile Club–Artists of America’s Aesthetic Movement from the Graham Williford Collection. The exhibition opens Tuesday, December 14, 2010 and will remain on view through February 20, 2011 in the Museum’s Bell Gallery. In addition to the two rare examples of the exhibition’s namesake tiles, over 80 paintings, sculptures and prints from the Tile Club artists will be on view. The exhibition is organized by the Tyler Museum of Art.

Tile Club members were arguably the first group of artists who succeeded in creating a “cult of the artists” against the backdrop of America’s “Aesthetic Movement” during the late 19th Century. Their group, based in New York, was primarily made up of artists but also included other professionals such as an architect and two writers. This motley crew may be best described in the words of the artists themselves, “studiously slangy and bohemian,” and with a tongue-in-cheek pronouncement of “Let us be decorative!” the small group gathered together at regular soirées to paint decorative tiles.

Although the Tile Club’s professed intent was to paint tiles, they soon abandoned that pursuit for other art-related projects. The group organized plein-air, or outdoor, sketching trips to Long Island and up the Hudson River. The artists provided illustrations to the “travelogue” written by the writers of the group, and the magazine articles captured the popular imagination of its middle class readers who must have envied this “aesthetic life” led by the Tile Club’s bohemian artists. The group’s progressive self-promotion and public antics appealed to the country’s growing middle class and helped to cultivate among the populace an interest in the decorative arts.

The rising middle class art aficionados of the Gilded Age avidly followed the Tile Club’s deeds, which were covered in the popular publications of the last quarter of the 19th Century like Scribner’s Monthly and The Century Magazine. While the group as a whole did not produce any distinct artistic style, the Tile Club members were some of the most notable American artists of the period such as Edwin Austin Abbey, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Elihu Vedder. With additional members such as art critic Earl Shinn and journalist William Laffan, the Club successfully cultivated an atmosphere of alluring art culture during the Gilded Age.

Admission to “Studiously Slangy and Bohemian,” The Tile Club–Artists of America’s Aesthetic Movement from the Graham Williford Collection is free. The exhibition is presented with support from the Jean and Graham Devoe Williford Charitable Trust. Collectors’ Circle Sponsors are Otis and Claudia Carroll, Steve and June Hillis, Amy and Vernon Faulconer, and Mrs. Watson Simons.

Special Events

Friday, January 10, 2011: First Friday Art Tour – The public is invited to enjoy a free art tour of “Studiously Slangy and Bohemian,” The Tile Club–Artists of America’s Aesthetic Movement from the Graham Williford Collection led by a member of the TMA staff. The tour begins at 11:00 a.m. and lasts under an hour. First Friday Art Tours are offered on the first Friday of every month.

Saturday, January 8, 2011: Family Day – Families will discover “Studiously Slangy and Bohemian,” The Tile Club–Artists of America’s Aesthetic Movement from the Graham Williford Collection during the free Family Day event in January. Kids can create their own masterworks of art during free art activities which are guided by members of the TMA staff and TMA docents. Family Day is held in the Museum classroom from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and is offered on the second Saturday of every month.

The Tyler Museum of Art, accredited by the American Association of Museums, is supported by its Members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler, and is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave., adjacent to the Tyler Junior College campus off East Fifth Street. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. (The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.) Lunch is available in the Museum Café from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and the TMA Gift Shop is open during Museum hours. For more information, call (903) 595-1001 or visit www.tylermuseum.org.

Procession of Ye Tilers at Long Island by Edwin Austin Abbey, 1878

Procession of Ye Tilers at Long Island by Edwin Austin Abbey, 1878

In the Mist of the Early Morning by Unknown Artist, 1880

In the Mist of the Early Morning by Unknown Artist, 1880

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