PARIS — American tourists fill the galleries of the Louvre Museum, yet American art is surprisingly scarce.
Paris' premier museum and three U.S. art institutions are seeking to change that with an exhibit tracing the birth of American landscape painting and its influences.
"As soon as I arrived at the Louvre, I noticed that American art was not displayed at the level it merits," said Louvre director Henri Loyrette.
Even the exhibit's English-French melange of a name breaks tradition: It's called "New Frontier: l'art americain entre au Louvre," or "American Art Enters the Louvre."
It focuses on Thomas Cole, a pioneer of the Hudson River School of American landscape painters of the 19th century.
Cole's "The Cross in Solitude," from 1845 and in the Louvre collection, is joined by other loaned works including "The Last of the Mohicans" and work of his disciples.
The other partners in the exhibit are Atlanta's High Museum of Art, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, and Chicago's Terra Foundation for American Art.
Curator Guillaume Faroult described how Cole and fellow painter Asher Durand drew inspiration from a 19th century visit to the Louvre, home of centuries of artwork by European and other masters. The exhibit includes paintings that influenced Cole's work.
The show includes conferences and projects aimed at improving the French public's knowledge of early American art. The exhibit, which opened Saturday, runs through April 16.