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Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA) announces James E. Routh Jr graphic works exhibition

The Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA) at the University of Georgia will exhibit more than 30 graphic works by James E. Routh Jr. from Aug. 25 to Oct. 21, 2012. This exhibition, organized by GMOA and originally on view at the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum in Atlanta, will feature prints and paintings Routh created while traveling throughout the South during the Great Depression.

Organized by Laura Valeri, associate curator of European art at GMOA, this show will feature scenes depicting rural Georgia dominated by the cotton industry. Reflecting Routh’s feelings on the degradation of the landscape, his works on paper focus on the damaged and eroded land resulting from years of over-cultivation as well as the impoverished state of the South.

James Routh was born in New Orleans in 1918 and grew up in Atlanta, where he studied at Oglethorpe College, now Oglethorpe University, for two years before enrolling in the Art Students League in New York City to study painting, printmaking and lithography.

After he was endowed with a yearlong Rosenwald fellowship in 1940, Routh traveled throughout Georgia and the South for 16 months creating ink wash and watercolor works, which he describes as “scenes of everyday life in the South.” Routh’s prints reflect the hardships endured by many southerners he saw during this trip.

The artist aligned himself firmly with Regionalism, an American art movement of the 1920s and 1930s that promoted the depiction of ordinary people and scenes of the rural United States. Although its best-known practitioners, including Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood, were midwesterners, the movement spread its influence beyond the plains states to the rest of the country.

Routh’s prints do not directly address poverty, but the struggles of the South are apparent in the poor condition of houses and farms in the background of many of his prints. Other prints in the show depict factories invading the rural landscape, emitting black clouds of smoke as workers approach, dwarfed by the smokestacks.

This exhibition is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art –

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