International studio — 34.1908

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Pennsylvania Academy

The annual exhibition of
The yearly exhibition held by the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts might well be called the
Annual Rebuke. It has long constituted the most
representative showing of American art in this
country, coming around, year after year, to con-
found the carping critic and a not always too
appreciative public.
No better evidence of the vitality and inherent
worth of art in this country could possibly be
offered than the exhibition which opened on Janu-
ary 20, in Philadelphia. It was the largest, nearly
1,000 exhibits being shown, and the best in the
history of the Pennsylvania Academy. The aver-
age of excellence achieved was unusually high,
and the number of poor and mediocre works were
uncommonly few, except in the domain of sculp-
ture, where the showing was lamentably disappoint-
ing. In years past this has always constituted an
interesting part of the exhibition, and one was quite
certain of seeing something worth while. This
year one failed to note, with one or two exceptions,
anything that might be regarded as a contribution
to art. Most of the sculptors whose works were
shown here were only marking time, and some
were not even keeping up with the lagging pro-
cession. Nearly a score of animal pieces by the
late Edward Kemeys were shown, which forced
one to the conclusion that as an artist he is a much
overrated man. His work is lacking both in
originality of conception and spontaneity of execu-
tion, and one could see no justification in it for
calling him the American Barye, as has been done
by certain well-intentioned but misguided people.
The real American Barye will not be a man who
suggested Barye, except in so far as he might take
animals for his subject matter, but one who may
be expected to surpass him both in execution and
in interpretation. At present there appears on
the horizon only one man destined for that honor,
and he, unfortunately, was not represented in this
With the exception of this arid waste of sculpture,
the work shown in this exhibition was character-
ized by an exhilarating spirit of manly vigor. It
gave practical confirmation to the belief that the
renaissance of modern art will occur in this coun-
try by reason of our separation from European
culture and traditions, because of a wholesome dis-
regard of the old, musty conventions that still

fetter foreign art, and by virtue of a landscape
replete with unique possibilities and a life more
varied than can be found in any other country in
the world.
This has already begun to make itself felt to the
consternation of all that is formal and academic,
and one of the most interesting groups of painters
in this country to-day is composed of a number
of the younger men who use the material that lies
ready close at hand, who concern themselves most
largely with depicting the life about us. This they


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