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The Hoosier Group

T.C. Steele
T.C. Steele with his palette circa 1920. Indiana Historical Society.

The History Center's newest exhibition,  Indiana Impressions:The Art of T.C. Steele, is open in the Rosemary McKee Lanham Gallery from April 21 to July 9. The IHS Press is also honoring T.C. Steele by updating its book, The House of the Singing Winds: The Life and Work of T.C. Steele, for Indiana's Bicentennial. It will be available for purchase at the end of this month. 

With a lot of information about the legendary T.C. Steele making its way on the blog, I thought I would share more about the famous Hoosier Group Steele belonged to. 

Hoosier Group
Four impressionist painters from the famous Hoosier Group. From left to right are Steel, Stark, Adams and Forsyth. The Art Jury, Wayman Adams. Gift to the Art Association by popular subscription, Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Hoosier Group consisted of five impressionist artists from 1880 to 1915 – Steele, William Forsyth, Otto Stark, J. Ottis Adams and Richard Gruelle. The artists met and studied in Munich, Germany, in the 1880s where they mastered their craft before returning to Indiana. 

The group received its name in 1894 by Chicago art critic and novelist Hamlin Garland during an exhibition at the Denison Hotel in Indianapolis. 

While the painters were all part of the impressionist movement, they were also regionalists who painted landscapes around their homes in Indiana. They made their living by painting and teaching. Steele, for example, made money by teaching at the art school he founded, Indiana School of Art, and painting portraits for wealthy families. However, portraits were not what his heart longed to paint. His passion was landscapes. 

After the Hoosier Group's landscape exhibition in 1894, the group continued to present their artwork in Chicago, Cincinnati and other cities before becoming nationally famous in 1904. 

The Hoosier Group made a lasting impact on the art world and the next generation of Indiana painters. Indiana did not have an art school until Steele and Adams founded their own schools and began teaching. Adams was one of the founders of Herron School of Art and was a teacher and principal until Forsyth took over in 1906. Many of the next generation of Indiana's artists learned and studied from at least one of these men. 

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Melissa Brummett


Melissa is a marketing intern at the Indiana Historical Society. She loves photography, reading, sports and history.