Press

See author William R. Cross interviewed about Winslow Homer on PBS
Bill Cross PBS Interview on Winslow Homer
See author William R. Cross interviewed about the exhibition, “Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter’s Journey, 1869-1880,” at the Cape Ann Museum on WCVB5
William R. Cross on WCVB

Praise for Winslow Homer: American Passage

 

Publishers Weekly

https://www.publishersweekly.com/9780374603793

Vivid storytelling melds with exuberant analysis in this sweeping look at a canonical American artist’s vibrant life. Art curator Cross (Homer at the Beach) delves into the world of Winslow Homer (1836–1910), a painter whose “search for balance, order, and beauty amid the conflicts he confronted,” Cross argues, imbued him with a canny ability to capture both the experiences of “ordinary people” and “powerful forces of nature.” Drawing from letters, diaries of friends, and published interviews, Cross follows Homer’s artistic quest—from his early commercial pictorial wood print drawings in the mid-1850s to the solemn portraits he published in Harper’s Weekly during the Civil War, to the vivid rendering of natural landscapes that became synonymous with his name. Cross draws insightful connections between Homer’s life events and his works—citing, in one example, his “mother’s declining health” as being responsible for the “mortal themes” present in such famous works as his “American masterpiece,” The Life Line (1884). No stone in Homer’s life is left unturned nor brushstroke of deliberately placed light left unexplored under Cross’s meticulous eye. While occasionally dense, the rich descriptions and reproductions of Homer’s art will beckon readers along. Art connoisseurs will want to make room on their shelves for this definitive guide to a great American artist. (Apr.) 2/28/22

Articles by William R. Cross

ArtWay: After Our Likeness

On its face, the scene is sentimental: a respectable family of three, in a tidy, sunlit room. Look closer. The silhouetted mother’s arm is tense, her fingers tight on table’s edge. She stares transfixed in alarm, likely at the contents of the letter before her. A toddler daughter looks up to her in wide-eyed, solemn fear. And the girl’s father? He stares at us, the viewers. He is musing as he reads his newspaper. His glasses are off, his slippers are on. A hint of understanding flashes across his handsome face – as if he knows a hard truth and has made his peace with it. The enigmatic painting’s title draws us, too, into that truth. The family at the table is both white and black. By the cruel classifications of the time, anyone – even a little blonde girl – through whose blood runs the “drop sinister” is counted as black. Read more…

ArtWay: Faith, Without which we Could not Go On

Job’s name may be familiar, but what do we know of his story? This 1949 picture by Karl Zerbe (1903-1972) is a journey into the heart of suffering. It was a voyage shaped by the artist’s recognition, from America, of atrocities committed in the name of his native Germany. Read more…

ArtWay: Fully Human

The view is harsh: a nearly naked man – his flesh raw – set against a stark background and ringed by three strangely dressed companions, each with a distinctive posture. One kneels before him – in mockery, in homage, or threatening to pierce, with reed or arrow, that pasty skin? Another is older, shirtless but helmeted. He bows slightly as he stares fixedly at the painting’s subject. The last stands proudly erect, grasping a purple cloak. Is he covering the red-bearded man protectively or continuing, contemptuously, to strip him? The fixed gaze of this last man is unnerving, implicating us in this scene. Read more…

ArtWay: Head, Hand and Heart

What sort of painting is this? As in other portraits by the American Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) and many others since the Renaissance the principal subject is seated and painted nearly life-size, gazing out of the picture as a secondary figure hovers in the background. Read more…

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