American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection of American Art

February 14 through April 28, 2019

Theodore and Joan Operhall Gallery

American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection of American Art features eleven carefully selected American Paintings from The Detroit Institute of Arts from its 2018 – 2019 Statewide touring exhibition program. Organized by the DIA, this exhibition focuses on “the world of American painters of the late nineteenth century as they explored competing visions of American culture and identity in works of art that remain relevant today.”

Thomas Moran, American, 1837-1926
The Great Cave, Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, Michigan; 1873; oil on canvas. Manoogian Collection

The selected paintings offer aspirational landscapes, genre scenes, historical events, and still life that convey a sense of America, either by celebrating the uniqueness of the land or revealing scenes of American life and culture.

The Artists

Two painting represent Thomas Moran; one is a tribute to the discovery of the New World by European explorers, the other is a majestic interpretation of the Painted Rocks of Michigan’s Lake Superior shoreline. George Loring Brown and Frederic Arthur Bridgman spent much of their careers in Europe and share here quintessential views of an America that appealed to the popular imagination of European audiences, depicting the great Niagara Falls and the spectacle of the American circus. Edward Lamson Henry looks back to a preindustrial and pre-Civil War era in Election Day, while Wisconsin artist Franz Biberstein captures the wonder and modernism of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Trompe l’oeil paintings, seascapes, and images of public celebrations round out the exhibition.

These paintings represent the ability of artists to both inform and capture the popular imagination. In an era where travel was limited and photography still an emerging technology, painters were able to bring the world to their viewers, and in so doing, shape their impressions.


Frederic Arthur Bridgman (American, 1847-1928)
American Circus in Brittany
Oil on canvas, 1869/70
Manoogian Collection

George Loring Brown (American, 1814-1889)
Niagara Falls at Sunset
Oil on canvas, circa 1861
Manoogian Collection


Edward Lamson Henry (American, 1841-1919)
Election Day 1844
Oil on canvas, 1913
Manoogian Collection

This exhibition is underwritten by DTE Energy Foundation.

Generous support for this project  is provided by Art Bridges.