While art may not be the first thing on the mind of a visitor to the region, the Hudson Valley and Berkshires have a connection to the American creative endeavor that stretches all the way back to Thomas Cole and Frederic Church. What was once just a home and a place of respite and inspiration for artists now houses world-class institutions of art, from Dia:Beacon and Storm King Art Center to the Center for Curatorial Studies/Hessel Museum at Bard College. As the weather turns colder, it's a perfect time to get indoors and become more acquainted with the astounding artwork on view across the region.
Magazzino | Cold Spring
The house that Arte Povera built, Magazzino has brought influential Italian artists of that influential art movement of the 1960s and '70s to its modernist museum in Cold Spring since it opened in 2017. Through January 9, the fascinating "nature carpets" (tappet-natura) of Pietro Gilardi, one of the main protagonists of Arte Povera. Carving natural scenes into artificial materials like polyurethane foam and then saturating them with synthetic pigment, Gilardi sought to recreate nature in an uncontaminated form. Some of the pieces, especially a couple depicting sea birds flying low over water, are breathtakingly beautiful.
The Hyde Collection | Glens Falls
A private museum with a distinguished collection of European and American art, the Hyde's holdings were acquired by museum founders Louis and Charlotte Hyde in the early 20th century and include works by El Greco, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Edgar Degas, Georges Seurat, Winslow Homer, Josef Albers, Grace Hartigan, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Bridget Riley. In addition to its permanent collection, the Hyde hosts rotating exhibits. Through December 31, "Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region" is on display, a juried exhibition featuring regional artists.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center | PoughkeepsieLocated on the campus of Vassar College, the Loeb is a teaching museum whose permanent collection includes over 22,000 works, comprised of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, textiles, and glass and ceramics. This fall, the museum has four exhibitions open to the public, including the following. "Ways of Unseeing in Photography" explores the ways in which photographs can obscure the world every bit as much as they can illuminate it and includes photographs by artists including Todd Hido, Eikoh Hosoe, André Kertész, Abelardo Morell, Billy Name, and Alisa Wells-Witteman. "Redefining Feminism at the Women's Studio Workshop" documents the collaborative artmaking space that launched in Rosendale in 1974 and continues to this day as a vibrant studio for female-identifying artists. Women's Studio Workshop has specialized in the production of artist's books, and a selection of that collection will be on view.
Samuel Dorsky Museum | New Paltz
Located on the campus of SUNY New Paltz, the Dorsky comprises more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries. While the museum's permanent collection holds more than 6,000 works of art from around the world, there is an emphasis on the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain region, 19th-century American prints, photography and contemporary metals. The Dorsky's temporary exhibition program features exhibitions, installations, and projects by internationally recognized artists as well as annual thematic exhibitions of work by regional artists. "Benjamin Wigfall & Communications Village," on view through December 11, explores the legacy of the printmaker and educator and the Black arts community he nourished in Kingston during the 1970s and '80s.
Clark Art Institute | Williamstown
The Berkshires owes a debt to the Cold War for the siting of its foremost art museum. Having amassed a stunning private art collection, the Clarks, who lived in New York City, became increasingly concerned for the safety of their artworks as tensions between the US and the Soviet Union escalated in the late 1940s. Williamstown, 170 miles from the theoretical nuclear blast zone, was deemed a safe destination for a museum based on their collection, which includes European and American paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts from the 14th to the early 20th century. "On the Horizon: Art and Atmosphere in the 19th Century," on view at the the Clark from November 19 though February 12, features gems from the museum's collection, including works by J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, Honoré Daumier, Charles Meryon, James McNeill Whistler, and Auguste Louis Lepère, among others.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum | Ridgefield, CT
The Aldrich is a heavy-hitting contemporary art museum situated in leafy, suburban Connecticut. This fall, one of its signature exhibitions is getting a reboot. In 1971, Lucy R. Lippard curated the exhibition "Twenty-Six Contemporary Women Artists" at the Aldrich. The historic show featured emerging women artists (Howardena Pindell and Alice Aycock among them). Fifty-one years later, "52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone" showcases the original artists from the 1971 show alongside a new roster of 26 female identifying or nonbinary emerging artists born after 1980, tracking the evolution of feminist art practices over the past five decades. The younger artists include Emile L. Gossiaux, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Stella Zhong, and Phoebe Berglund. Through January 8.
Norman Rockwell Museum | Stockbridge, MA
Perhaps the greatest commercial illustrator of the last century, a man whose name is synonymous with the Saturday Evening Post (he did 323 covers for the publication), Norman Rockwell is associated with a very particular strain of mid-20th century life in America. It's tough not to avoid the word "nostalgia" when discussing his work, as it evokes a small-town ethos that many pine for. Rockwell, however, is not so simply written off, as his work tackled the social issues of the day, from his Four Freedoms series to his paintings during the early Civil Rights movement. To see Rockwell's work in person—often large-scale paintings that were shot down in size for magazine covers—is to reckon with his technical mastery. The Norman Rockwell Museum houses the most significant public collection of Rockwell's work in the world, include original artwork, and the artist's studio and its related collection, including personal memorabilia, supplies, and reference materials. It also mounts complementary exhibits of contemporary illustration. "Eloise and More: The Life and Art of Hilary Knight," opens November 12 and continues through March 12.