|Ken Keeley's "Newsstand:" Reading as Art|
The lecture, entitled All the News That's Fit to Paint: Reading as Art, served as an introduction to the gallery's upcoming major exhibition Shock of the News, which will examine how artists have used newspapers during the 20th and 21st centuries.
|Virgin Mary reading|
In England, the British painter William Harnett pioneered the use of various forms of reading material as still life. The writing in such works looked like real words but on closer inspection they were just unrelated markings painted to resemble the formation of sentences and paragraphs.
In the 18th century, broadsheets began using art work to illustrate points. In 2 famous related drawings by William Hogarth entitled "Beer Street" and "Gin Lane" the artist drove home the point that while beer could provide stability and happiness, the demon gin would leave drinkers in ruin.
|Hogarth's "Beer Street" on left; "Gin Lane" on right|
American artist Richard Woodville provided a classic painting of the emerging power of newspapers with his "War News in Mexico" (1849). "The painting is a patriotic reminder of the victory over Mexico. The young man is reading the news. At the American Hotel, there is room for everyone. Meanwhile the man talking to the older man at the bottom may be symbolizing that reading is replacing talking as a way to convey information, " Denker said.
|Woodville's "War News from Mexico"|
Many of the impressionists including Degas, Manet, and Cezanne employed reading and readers as a subject for their works. Paul Cezanne used his father reading a paper in one of his paintings. However, he used the title of an underground publication of the day, similar in nature to DC's The City Paper or Rolling Stone, as the paper his father was reading. "Cezanne's father would not have been reading that," Denker said. "Cezanne put that avant garde paper into his father's hands as a way of legitimatizing his own (new) art."
|Paul Cezanne captures his father reading a paper|
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