Cool Down with a Dose of Parrish Blue
As summer temperatures start to rise, museums across the country are gearing up for the waves of visitors seeking solace from the heat. Coming out swinging is the National Museum of American Illustration, which is home to Maxfield Parrish: The Retrospective. This exhibition features the fantastical forms and vibrant colors of Maxfield Parrish (1870 – 1966), the progressive artist whose work bolstered the illustrative movement in America. When his career took off just after the turn of the century, Parrish was mostly doing magazine illustrations and advertisements: Gracing hundreds of magazine covers and pages, the work of Parrish was featured in the likes of Collier’s, The Century Magazine, and Life.
This exhibition expands on the entire career of Parrish, and makes every effort to demonstrate the wide range of work produced during his lifetime. While it was Parrish’s initial illustrations that allowed him to rise within the ranks of the art world, his reputation as a successful artist was firmly validated when he began to paint. Audiences will appreciate the luminous qualities of his work, which Parrish created through alternating coats of color and varnish, sometimes using up to sixty layers. The surreal subjects, intense coloring, and eponymous blue that Parish employed in his art introduced American society to a new genre of visual art that had never been seen before.
While it can be clearly stated that Parrish and his art are in a league of their own, it is safe to say that the intense coloring seen in Parrish’s work would dull any surrounding competition. Size was never an issue for Parrish: Tallwood Pear is painted on a mother-of-pearl button that spans a mere inch and a half, while the Florentine Fete murals encompass eighteen canvases that are just shy of eleven feet tall. Maxfield Parrish: The Retrospective will remain open at the National Museum of American Illustration until September 2, and should be a must-have on your summer to-do list.
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