THE HOMER SHOW: "FEW PAINTERS HAVE SO POWERFULLY EXPRESSED THE VASTNESS OF THE WORLD"

Published in 1944, Lloyd Goodrich's book on Winslow Homer was a precurser and long-range incitor of that deep concern with the tradition of American painting that had, during the last decade, become a phenomenon of American taste. Goodrich's multiple activities have included further publications on Homer and now, 30 years after his first book on the painter, he has staged a major Homer exhibition for the Whitney Museum.

Goodrich told me that the exhibition was not as comprehensive as that put on in 1958-1959 by the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum (200 pictures to 224). However, he could think of no other exhibition larger than the present one. And, he added, it was unlikely that there would be another show in the foreseeable future as big and representative, since institutions and private individuals are becoming less and less willing to lend works of art.

Although Goodrich was unable to secure everything he wanted, it took a hard heart to refuse such an expert. He is happy with what he has brought together. And he has every right to be proud. It is an impressive show.

The show is plenty big enough to challenge the capacity of a full floor at the Whitney. The pictures are, indeed, more crowded on the walls than modern ideas of museum installation encourage. But surely exuberance is a lesser fault than caution, and in Homer's own day, when so many canvases found their places in private living rooms, pictures were hung much closer together. The result can have a great richness.

Indeed, my first reaction when I entered the galleries was to feel roll over me a great wave of color. One is inclined to forget how quickly, after he moved from black-and-white illustration to the use of pigments,

____________________
An earlier version of this essay appeared in Art News ( May 1973), 65-67.

-192-

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