The Crystal Bridges Museum presents See the Light. The Luminist Tradition in American Art

. October 12, 2012

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents See the Light. The Luminist Tradition in American Art, an exhibition on view October 13 through Jan. 28, 2013.

From the luminous paintings of Martin Johnson Heade in the nineteenth century to Don Flavin’s minimalist sculpture featuring fluorescent tubes in the twentieth, light has served as inspiration for American artists for more than 100 years. The exhibition will trace the fascinating evolution of light and art through the work of eleven American artists. See the Light: The Luminist Tradition in American Art will feature selected works from Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection combined with objects on loan from other institutions. The exhibition will also premiere a major new acquisition to Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection. See the Light is sponsored by GE Lighting.

In the mid-nineteenth century, a group of American painters began to focus their attention on the rendering of light as a metaphor for the spiritual. These artists, including Martin Johnson Heade, focused on the sublime, awe-inspiring qualities of light, creating landscapes that seem lit from within with a spiritual glow. This quality of light later earned the artists the term “Luminists” among some academic circles.

The works selected for See the Light showcase how the Luminists’ concept of light as a metaphor for transcendent experience has continued to influence American artists through a century of changing styles and media. Works in the exhibition range from the Impressionist paintings of John Singer Sargent in 1887 to works created within the last 20 years by artists such as James Turrell and Jim Campbell, using state-of-the-art electronic technologies.

“These artists had the same goals of light as symbolic of the inner world, creating a transcendent, quasi-mystical sense of reality,” explains David Houston, director of curatorial at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “It stems from the Luminists—there’s a transcendental continuum.”

There is no fee to view See the Light and no advance tickets are required. Additional information about this and other upcoming exhibitions is available online at

Category: Fine Art

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