Will Henry Stevens, Untitled, pastel on paper, 18 x 22 in. Lent courtesy of Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC.
This exhibition presents the work of American artist Will Henry Stevens (1881-1949), a lifelong naturalist and important modernist painter known for his two distinct artistic styles: Representational Naturalism and Southern Modernism. Stevens clearly separated his two bodies of work, exhibiting his rural Southern landscapes and his non-objective abstractions at different galleries. Though seemingly disconnected, his individual styles are part of a larger whole. Each style was born from the soul of an artist strongly influenced by his reverence for the Southern landscape.
Although born and raised in Indiana, Stevens spent much of his adult life teaching in Louisiana and summering in western North Carolina. Those environs — particularly the rivers and bayous of New Orleans and the Southern Appalachian Mountains — inspired him to capture the changing landscapes in his colorful and lyrical works. Stevens absorbed diverse influences throughout his career, including the writings of transcendentalist philosophers Whitman, Thoreau, and Emerson, Chinese Sung Dynasty paintings, and the art and writings of Wassily Kandinsky. Over his lifetime Stevens constantly experimented with styles and media, but his work never lost its inextricable link to nature. Organized by HMA.