FALL PREVIEW: ART; Vistas, Visions in Probing Eyes

Article excerpt

Byline: Deborah K. Dietsch , SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Natural wonders, war and women are recurrent themes of fall exhibitions at museums citywide. Landscape art takes center stage in painting and photography retrospectives that should please environmentalists - and increase visitor attendance. Raw, romantic scenes of river valleys, mountain ranges and beachfronts - including now-endangered habitats - no doubt will prove more appealing to average viewers than the modernism-focused exhibits so prevalent during the past year.

Sublime, tree-shaded vistas by the leader of the Hudson River School open the season next week at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, the 57-piece "Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape" (Friday through Jan. 6) reappraises Durand's role in shifting the 19th-century pastoral tradition from idealized landscape views to a more realistic naturalism.

Promising to be more popular are two major surveys at the National Gallery of Art. "Edward Hopper" (Sept. 16 through Jan. 21), an exhibit of 96 works by the New York artist, will feature rural New England settings along with his iconic images of lonely urbanites in diners and hotel rooms. It will be followed by the biggest retrospective of works by British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner ever presented in the U.S. "J.M.W. Turner" (Oct. 1 through Jan. 6 ), a show of 146 oil paintings and works on paper, will feature his signature atmospheric sea-scapes along with the 1812 masterpiece "Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps," to be shown in this country for the first time.

Views of the Normandy coast of France, captured earlier this year in the National Gallery's Eugene Boudin show, will be expanded at the Phillips Collection. "Impressionists by the Sea" (Oct. 20 through Jan. 13) includes seven canvases by Eugene Boudin among 60 light-flecked paintings by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot and other late 19th-century artists.

Three-dimensional works by another French master, Henri Matisse, will be highlighted in a major exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where many of his best paintings are housed. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor" (Oct. 28 through Feb. 3) brings together more than 160 sculptures, paintings and drawings to reveal the crossover of the artist's creative ideas from one medium to another.

At the Corcoran Gallery of Art, "Ansel Adams" (Sept. 15 through Jan. 27) abounds with the photographer's dramatic vistas of the American West, shot as if promoting the conservation movement. An indoors encounter between two creatures indigenous to such terrain, a wolf and a deer, will be documented in "Deeparture," a 2005 film by Romanian artist Mircea Cantor (Sept. 17 through Dec. 9), at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's Black Box theater.

Animals also will figure prominently in "Patterned Feathers, Piercing Eyes: Edo Masters From the Price Collection" (Nov. 10 through April 13) at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Bold renderings of birds by 18th-century Kyoto artist Ito Jakuchu will be among the delights of the 109 Japanese screens and scrolls on exhibit. …