In 1907 The New York Herald invited N. C. Wyeth to write an article in support of “a movement in N. Y. city to have the Metropolitan Art Museum set aside a gallery for the best example of illustrations.”
The Herald solicited the opinion of Howard Pyle and a few other eminent illustrators to make the case. Wyeth acknowledged that “the men at the head of the museum are not at all in favor of it.”
It never happened. Contemporary narrative art was overlooked by the Met for a hundred years. Edwin Austin Abbey’s Daughters of King Lear was banished in hallways for years.
But the tide has turned. Smart museums, including the Met, are now welcoming art that tells a story. The exhibit “American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life,” which closed yesterday, brought together more than a hundred paintings that even New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl called “a great show.”
Meanwhile the Museum of Modern Art is hosting an exhibit of movie-related art by director Tim Burton (through April 26), focusing on his characters and stories. The show is so popular that visitors need advance reservations.
American Stories Exhibit
Tim Burton Exhibit.
The Wyeths: The Letters of N.C. Wyeth, 1901-1945, edited by Betsy Wyeth, 1971, page 232.