James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834-1903
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Collected by major museums
Tate, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
Selected exhibitions
2015
Whistler's Mother: Grey, Black, and White,
Clark Art Institute
Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler,
Colby College Museum of Art
2014
An American in London: Whistler and the Thames,
Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries

James Abbott McNeill Whistler changed the course of art history with his radical techniques and adoption of Asian design principles, which emphasized a two-dimensional flattening of painted forms and their arrangement into abstract patterns. A London-based expatriate, Whistler embraced and promoted the doctrine that art should not serve narrative, but rather project the artist’s subjective feelings through the handling of the medium. His revolutionary methods changed existing approaches to oil paint, pastel, watercolor, etching—even interior design and the decorative arts. The flat, expressive, and radically simplified forms in his Venice pastels, and his use of fluid blue and gray pigments in his abstract nocturnes, altered how his contemporaries like Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas saw and understood art. He scandalously named one of his most famous paintings Arrangement in Grey and …

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