The Farnsworth Art Museum is pleased to present Achieving American Art: Fifty Years of Change and Challenge, the third installment in this popular annual lecture series, beginning on Wednesday, March 31. The 2010 course will focus on the art of the nation from 1945 to the present and will be divided into three sections by media: painting and drawing; architecture; and photography.

The same 90-minute lecture will be offered twice every Wednesday, at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., March 31 through May 26. The nine lectures will be presented by Farnsworth staff members and guest speakers from museums and colleges. Roger Dell, the Farnsworth’s director of education will host the series, providing an introduction and brief contextual overview for each guest lecturer’s presentation.

Guest speakers this year will include Susan Danly from the Portland Museum of Art, Elizabeth Finch from the Colby College Museum of Art, James F. O’Gorman from Wellesley College, Brenton Hamilton from Maine Media College, Linda Docherty from Bowdoin College and Michael K. Komanecky, the Farnsworth’s chief curator.

The first lecture is titled Artist as Oedipus: How Artists of the 1950s and 1960s Revolted Against Abstract Expressionism and will be given by Dell. Abstract Expressionism, the first truly American art style, was forged by a handful of artists living and working in lower Manhattan in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Barnet Newman became stars of the art firmament, although in short order their successors began to overthrow their fundamental ideas about art. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Larry Rivers subtly began to interject recognizable imagery back into painting, paving the way for the next wave of revolutionary artists. With Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg, the art world went Pop.

Reservations are required for series and section tickets. The price for the entire series is $95, $75 for Farnsworth members. For individual sections, the price is $32/$28. Those who wish to purchase tickets for individual lectures, subject to availability, may do so at the door for $10/$8. All teachers and full-time students will be admitted free, although reservations are required.

For more information or to purchase a series or section ticket, call the education department at 596-0949 or visit farnsworthmuseum.org/education. Achieving American Art: Fifty Years of Change and Challenge is sponsored in part by the Strand Theatre.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.