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Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of America’s favorite day of feasting, family, and football, here are works from the IMA’s permanent collection appropriately themed to help celebrate the day.  Enjoy.

Wayne Kimball, "Chairing Thanksgiving," 1982.

Just like that odd distant relative engaging you in awkward small talk for the entirety of the family dinner, Wayne Kimball’s quirky but meticulously crafted lithograph allows us a chance to appreciate that which often goes unnoticed or makes us uncomfortable. Kimball states, “My perceptions of certain past movements in art (most notably Northern Renaissance and Islamic Painting) coupled with idiosyncrasy…lead me to making some rather odd pictures…the compilation, arrangement and execution (and material quality) combine to hint at symbolic interpretations.”


Norman Rockwell, "Ours To Fight For, Freedom From Want," 1943.

Rockwell’s iconic image of the American gathering is more than likely etched in the back of everyone’s minds as we celebrate this season. Culturally significant now for its representation of American nostalgia, it was complementary in its own time to FDR’s “Four Freedom’s” speech given in 1942 to aid the war effort. This lithograph is based on one from a series of four themed paintings:  Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Worship (the Tenants of FDR’s speech).

Emile Bernard, "Le Moissonneur (The Harvester)," 1889.

Thanksgiving is said to have been born out of an English tradition of appreciative agrarians gathering as a community, not only to give thanks for their fall harvest, but also to rest and celebrate their hard work throughout the summer months. Bernard’s Breton farmers engaged in back-breaking labor to gather wheat from the field with their scythes. Bernard’s primitive technique and subject matter allows the viewer to be transported back in a time where the harvest was well-earned – where one didn’t go to the big-box store to grab a turkey from a freezer section, make stuffing from a box, or pick up a plastic wrapped Pumpkin pie and canned whipped cream.

Workshop of Jan Brueghel the younger, "The Sense of Taste," 1618.

This image is our urging of how not to eat today. Thanksgiving is a notorious diet breaker, and even the strongest-willed dieter can easily crumble at the mouth watering smell of Grandma’s homemade yams or Aunt Becky’s mashed potatoes. Jan Brueghel’s image contains a gluttonous feast, drunkenness, and if you look hard enough in the (bottom center left) you will see a small monkey. This is the artist’s representation of the devil being present in the scene (a common symbol in artwork during this time period). Lesson to be learned: Stuff the turkey, not yourself.

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One Response to “Happy Thanksgiving!”

  • avatar
    kim Says:

    I like these pictures… I really like the freedom from want… iconic yes but a truth here in America that most do not appreciate.
    thank you for sharing

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