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PaperCity Fort Worth September 2020

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Page 45 of 75

Left: Benjamin J. Falk's Helena Luv, circa 1880s, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art Above: Everett Spruce's Twins, 1939-1940, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art 44 AMON CARTER DOUBLEHEADER: ARCANE CABINET CARDS + EERIE CANVASES F all at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art is edged in the curious and surreal. "Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography" presents disarming, imaginative takes on late- 19th-century photographic-studio portraiture directed by the subject — an approach that anticipates today's selfie- obsessed culture. The less expensive, widely distributed cabinet cards allowed the nascent medium of photography to be embraced by a broader, more democratic audience; studio sessions became looser and more creative. With its American photography collection among the most esteemed in the country, the Carter is the first to delve into the arcane yet compelling world of the cabinet card. Seminal images from "Acting Out" reveal the inventive wit of the Victorians: An eloquently coiffed woman takes flight, thanks to a gargantuan pair of wings; gentlemen duke it out in wacky faux dramas, wielding meat cleavers or saw blades; dapper protagonists placed against idealized backgrounds enact improbable athletic feats. Concurrently, the Carter resurrects a talent underknown to contemporary audiences in "Texas Made Modern: The Art of Everett Spruce." Spruce (1908-2002) is recognized now only by scholars of early Texas art; back in the day, he was one of the state's most illustrious painters, celebrated nationally. In fact, he made it into the New York trifecta and is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art — an accomplishment few contemporary artists can match. Museum-goers will discover the eerie beauty of Spruce's brand of surrealism. Canvases such as the anthropo- morphic Southwest Texas Landscape, 1936, simmer with the brooding intensity of Depression-era America, foreshadowing the coming of World War II. The equally disquieting Twins, 1939-1940, portrays identical twin sisters as ominous mannequins. "Acting Out" and "Texas Made Modern," both through November 1, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Catherine D. Anspon FROM LEFT: COLLECTION AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART; COLLECTION DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART, © 2019 ALICE SPRUCE MERIWETHER.

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