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Childe Hassam: American Impressionist

June 10–September 12, 2004

Travels 1893–1908

Hassam spent winters in New York and summers in New England and, later, East Hampton, refreshing his spirit and artistic imagination. Although he once proclaimed, "I am the Marco Polo of the painters," he went to Europe less often than a number of American artists—William Merritt Chase and Theodore Robinson, for example. He avoided European artists' colonies and had little interest in foreign exhibitions.

Hassam did, however, make several trips to distant locales, including Havana (1895), Europe (1896–97, 1910), Oregon (1904, 1908), and California (1914). In many of the images inspired by these journeys he sacrificed simple descriptiveness for a decorative approach. Perhaps the subjects he encountered in unfamiliar places liberated him to engage more with formal issues than was his custom at home. The need to paint quickly to accommodate a travel schedule also may have encouraged him to adopt vivacious brushwork. Whatever prompted these experiments, they are often reflected in works Hassam created after he returned to familiar terrain.