The American Evolution Exhibition

This spring, the long-awaited re-installation of the Corcoran Gallery of Art's world-renowned collection of American art will open in a special exhibition, The American Evolution: A History through Art. A fresh look at the Corcoran's extensive American holdings, the exhibition showcases more than 200 objects in a wide range of media, dating from the colonial era to present day. The American Evolution will open on March 1 and remain on view until July 27, 2008.

The American Evolution presents the collection in light of five themes that have shaped American culture: Money, Land, Politics, Cultural Exchange and The Modern World. These themes are fundamental to the development of the United States, as well as to the stories that have become central to the country's national identity. As demonstrated in this exhibition, art plays a crucial role in telling these stories.

The term "evolution" suggests change over time, and The American Evolution proposes that the United States is a dynamic nation in a constant state of re-definition. From Gilbert Stuart's stately 18th-century portrait of George Washington to Andy Warhol's irreverent 1973 likeness of the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, and from Frederic Edwin Church's dramatic 1857 view from the brink of Niagara Falls to Richard Diebenkorn's abstract 1975 rendering of the suburban expanses of Ocean Park, California, The American Evolution explores many of the ways that American life and art have developed over the past 250 years.

This exhibition and its related programming will explore Americans' use of visual images as a means to describe and understand the world around them. This extensive presentation of the Corcoran's collection will encourage a closer examination of the relationship between art and history. The works stand on their own as outstanding examples of the major styles, subjects, and movements of American art history, yet they are also cultural artifacts that have much to teach visitors about themselves, their national identity and their evolving nation.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art is thrilled to provide its first cell-phone tour in conjunction with The American Evolution. A variety of speakers on selected topics will be available to visitors throughout the exhibition. Using their own cell-phone, visitors choose interpretations or discussions of interest. The cell-phone tour is provided free of charge and a Spanish translation of all discussions will be available.

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