"Pyle’s compositions are so arresting and original that it is tempting to analyze his images purely in abstract terms: contour, shape, thrust, asymmetry, and so on. Although his paintings are notable for their aesthetic appeal, they were not conceived with design alone in mind. To Pyle, art did not exist for its own sake but rather for the sake of the story. The expression of an emotion or an idea was paramount. Pyle’s student Jessie Willcox Smith recalled how one’s awareness of the story influenced the choices in composition:
"At the [Pennsylvania] Academy [of the Fine Arts] we had to think about compositions as an abstract thing, whether we needed a spot here or a break over there to balance, and there was nothing to get hold of. With Mr. Pyle it was absolutely changed. There was your story, and you knew your characters, and you imagined what they were doing, and in consequence you were bound to get the right composition because you lived these things. . . . It was simply that he was always mentally projected into his subject."
-----LINKS AND MORE
Photo by Jeremy Clowe1. I'll be lecturing on this topic (with lots of pictures) one week from today at the NR Museum
2. More about the exhibition
3. Hear a podcast interview with author/curators Stephanie Plunkett and Joyce Schiller of the NRM
4. Order a copy of the catalog that includes my essay.