Although born and raised in Indiana, Will Henry Stevens (1881–1949) spent much of his adult life teaching in Louisiana and summering in North Carolina. Those environs—particularly the rivers and bayous of New Orleans and the Appalachian Mountains—inspired Stevens to capture the changing landscapes in works that range from representational scenes to non-objective images he termed “semi-abstract.” In pastels on paper created from pigments he mixed himself, Stevens merged the traditional with the avant-garde to become one of the South’s pioneering modernist artists.
Engaged in exploring the spiritual in art and nature, Stevens looked to American writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) and Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). Later study into the Chinese landscape paintings of the Sung Dynasty (960–1279), along with the philosophies of such modern abstract artists as Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944) and Paul Klee (German, 1879–1940), helped refine Stevens’ artistic direction.
The nine works in this exhibition will illustrate the artist’s personal and poetic vision of the Southern landscape.
Above: Photograph of the 2020 installation of the exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Stevens merged the traditional with the avant-garde to become one of the South’s pioneering modernist artists.
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.
This exhibition was sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts.