'Thoroughly Modern' Art on Exhibit at BYU

'Thoroughly Modern' Art on Exhibit at BYU

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Carole Mikita ReportingThink you know what modern art is? A new exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art will likely change your mind.

It is a first-ever exhibition of women art students of a man considered THE great American art teacher. The works are not only beautiful, but the process of gathering them makes this show groundbreaking.

Paintings, pastels, pen and ink drawings from the early 20th century reflect women's views on America. Students of the great Robert Henri created works that influenced life, and it was 'Thoroughly Modern'.

Marion Wardle, Ph.D. curator, Museum of Art: "These women were reviewed in newspapers of their day and as modern artists, and their work as modern. And then we've changed that over the years. I'd like people to realize modern was something much broader than Abstraction and Picasso."

No one ever discovered what happened to Henri's women students, until now.

The artist and teacher, Robert Henri, had 441 women students. More than 200 went on to have art careers. BYU graduate students did much of the research to find these artists.

Julia McMullin, Art History Graduate Student: "When you call these historical societies, 'Oh, yes, we know all about her but no one's ever asked before'. They are so happy and so helpful with them..."

Many Utahns are familiar with Minerva Teichert's art. She often talked about one particular conversation with her teacher.

Cheryll May, Museum Educator: "He said, 'Has anyone ever painted the great Mormon story?' And she said, 'not to suit me'. And his response was, 'That's your birthright, you should do it...’"

And she did, for the rest of her life. Robert Henri had that effect on so many of his students, some of whose works are together in Utah for the first time ever. The artworks that make the show "Thoroughly Modern" will be at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art through August 27th. A catalog will be published in June about this first-ever collection.

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