Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 5, 2009

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art: The Resilience of Culture in the American South

To listen to a podcast with David Houston, Chief Curator of the museum, click on the links below.

David Houston Part One

David Houston Part Two

The comprehensive nature of Southern art

As curator of New Orleans’ Ogden Museum of Southern Art, David Houston wears many hats including: art educator, historian, cultural anthropologist, sociologist, philosopher, arts activist, social conscience … and the list could go on and on. Given the unique nature and mandate of this museum — “to collect, conserve, exhibit, study, and interpret the art of the South within the context of the region’s history and culture” — it is not surprising that his job is one of the most multi-tasking in the arts industry that I have seen.

And as David clearly articulates in our discussion, the Ogden is a focal point for a distinct sub-culture that has made its presence felt throughout the world. This requires the Ogden to present one of the most eclectic and finely tuned frames of reference in the world of visual arts, architecture, music, literature, dance, and theatre. As a principal medium of expression of a region that has seen a dramatic transformation, especially since the Second World War, the Ogden is also a repository for the great artistic legacy of the South. But as the works of art in the Ogden attest, this legacy is one of an equally great struggle.

Evoking the artistic sensibilities of the South

“Who knows the South? It is a land of beauty and horror, of cultivation and refinement, laid over misery and degradation. It is a land of tremendous contradictions …. the South remains our romantic land. It remains so because it is. I have seen the red clay of Georgia reveal its color in the dawn and the bayous of Louisiana glitter in magnolia-scented moonlight. There are no crude facts about the South which can ever kill the romantic effect of these on my imagination.”

— Thomas Hart Benton (artist), 1889-1975

Resources

To visit the website of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, click here.

To take a virtual tour of the Ogden, click here..

Registering with the Ogden Museum of Southern Art gives you the opportunity to create your own online collections from the all of the Museum collections. You will receive the museum’s newsletter and get “Ogden-Grams” about upcoming events. To register, click here..

Recommended Reading

The Art of the South 1890-2003, by J. Richard Gruber and David Houston. For information on where to buy this book click here..

Phillip Collier’s Missing New Orleans, a pictorial history of New Orleans, the Special Edition contains a Hurricane Katrina Epilogue featuring the photography of David Rae Morris.

The second book can be purchased from University Press of Mississippi.

More images from the Ogden

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