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James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty takes a close look at how the 19th-century artist pioneered a new way of thinking about art, that beauty, in and of itself, is a work of art’s most essential value. This groundbreaking genius’ struggle to find his own voice resulted in a breakaway style that moved painting towards abstraction and revolutionized the art world in Whistler’s time — paving the way for what became known as modern art decades later in the 20th century. By the time of his death, Whistler had become one of the most recognized artists in Europe. He is now placed in the first rank of modern painters, his work compared to that of Velázquez and Rembrandt.
Featuring nearly 200 etchings, paintings and historical photographs, James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty provides a thorough look at the beauty of Whistler’s art and the adventuresome nature that earned him his often-controversial status and made him the original art star. The documentary employs elaborate re-creations, unique 3-D animations and layered builds of the artist’s great works to explore the man and the art.
A group of engaging Whistler experts — including Lee Glazer, Associate Curator of American Art, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian; Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art, Yale University; Sarah Burns, cultural historian; Indiana University; Stephen Calloway, historian of decadence and culture, and former Curator, Victoria & Albert Museum; Gordon Cooke, The Fine Art Society, London; David Park Curry, Senior Curator, Baltimore Museum of Art; Linda Merrill, Lecturer, Emory University; Margaret MacDonald, art historian, University of Glasgow; Joyce Hill Stoner, art conservator, Winterthur and Delaware University; and Whistler biographer Daniel E. Sutherland — guide viewers through the moments that defined Whistler as a visionary American artist and champion of beauty.
- PBS Video: PBS Arts
- Antiques Roadshow: Whistler Etchings & Drypoints
- Antiques Roadshow: Ink Drawing, ca. 1851
- Antiques Roadshow: Rembrandt & Whistler Etchings
Produced by: Film Odyssey, Inc., Washington, DC in association with the Freer Gallery of Art; 1-A Productions, Glasgow; and WETA, Washington DC; Major funding by: National Endowment for the Humanities; Additional funding by: Lunder Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, DC Council on the Arts and Humanities, Humanities Council of Washington DC, Maryland Humanities Council and public television viewers