* My first impression during visiting galleries and Museums in Washington DC

The people and gavernment of United States of America seems to have worked very hard to write his own history of art . From the early history of America, not only did this country build the infrastructures, e.g. buildings, homes, parks, and the roads, they also made some monuments to celebrate the works by the American artists.

I feel this spirit since my first visit here to the International Summer Institute of Journalism in the Visual Art, during which I am invited by the government of America and the American University in Washington. With 24 journalists coming from 12 countries and from the United States, since our arrival, on June 12, we have visited several museums and art galleries. A day before the visit, we have already impressed by Washington city in our first sightseeing.

What did we see in those museums and galleries? Of course, we have enjoyed the Kelly Collection of American Illustration in Great Falls , Virginia; a private gallery of Ricard J Kelly store containing 400 important works originating from the golden age of American Illustration (1890-1935). Nor did we miss the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent works of Howard Pyle, JC Leyendecker, and NC Wyeth.

According to a record, Corcoran Museum of Art was founded in 1869 as Washington ‘s first and largest non-federal museum of art. This museum preserves a number of works of early American modern painters. They feature cubic and realistic styles. This can be seen in the paintings of ” Niagara ” (1857) by Frederic Edwin Church and “The Lost of Bufafalo” (1888) by Albert Bierstadt.

We also visited the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery, located in the south side of the National Mall. This gallery was founded by Charles Lang Feer, serving as a place for a few early impresionist paintings of the United States. This museum also displays a number of Asian art objects. In this museum I saw a painting of “Winter” by Dwight William Tryon, and “The Blue Dress” by Thomas Wilmer Dewing.

Will the early American modern art be as successful as that of Europe? Or what the Americans offer something different from Europe ? As far as my knowledge is concerned, the works of art in the United States was part of the history of European modernism. My impression so far is that the impressionist paintings by European artists seem to have stronger characteristic than the similar works by the American artists.

We can argue more about this matter from several different perspectives. What is clear is that, from my visit to these museums and seeing these works of art, the United States has demonstrated to us to write its own history. Moreover, this country also shows their pride to display their own acheivements in art. (When I return later to my country, this lesson is worth learning).

Until this moment, to me, it remains unclear the location of early modern art in America in the history of art in general. However, my quest will continue, because I am sure I will visit more museums and galleries here. At the moment, I am still impressed by the goverment of this city of Wahshington which shows us the good spirit and public service to the poeple in providing free public entertainment for all poeple, e.g. good buildings, beautiful gardens, memorials, and monuments.

By Ilham Khoiri

Monday, June 15, 2009