Take a peek at The Baltimore Museum of Art’s newly renovated American Wing with Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and American Painting & Sculpture David Park Curry. In addition to beautiful images of the galleries and one of the finest collections of American Art on the East Coast, you’ll hear the candid perspectives of students from Lakeland Elementary School who tell us that visiting the BMA is “better than staying home and watching TV.”
This is the second of two posts introducing the BMA Archives. The first post covered what’s in the Archives, and how to find resources and materials.
As you browse through the finding aids for the BMA’s institutional records, you may notice that sometimes there isn’t much information beyond series descriptions. What if you are researching the work of Mary Cassatt and would like to see photographs of related exhibition installations? You wouldn’t be able to tell from the finding aid that the Archives does have photos of the 1941 exhibition The Art of Mary Cassatt.
Over the past decade, the Archives’ staff—along with volunteers, interns, and Work Study students—has been hard at work improving access to the holdings. This work was given a huge push forward with a 2011 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) that allowed staff to process the entire backlog of nearly 1,000 linear feet of records and create a records management program to manage the flow of material coming to the Archives. Finding aids are now available for all institutional record groups and manuscripts both on the BMA’s website and via ArchiveGrid. General descriptions are searchable on WorldCat and the BMA Library’s catalogue.
In July of 2015, the BMA received a second grant from the NHPRC that will allow staff to improve upon the work already done and ensure that detailed information is available for the most heavily used materials. The project team will process at either the folder or item level five key collections:
- Audiovisual Collection
- Photograph Collection
- Juried and Invitational Exhibitions Records
- Education Department Records (before 1970)
- Curatorial Exhibitions and Publications Records (Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, Textiles, Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Painting and Sculpture, and Prints, Drawings and Photographs)
We will also create a plan for the long term digital preservation of material we have already digitized and plan to digitize in the future.
Summer Internships with the BMA Archives
If you’re a library school student or recent grad, keep an eye on the BMA’s Employment page for information about the summer internship application process. The NHPRC generously provided funding for six interns to assist with the project. Two interns worked with us in fall 2014 and we hope to have more work with us this spring as well as over the summer. Along with the interns, grant-funded Project Archivist Alexanne Brown joined us in January 2015 and will be responsible for processing the majority of the collections listed above. Alexanne and the rest of the project team are now hard at work processing the Photograph Collection, Audiovisual Collection, and Juried and Invitational Exhibitions Records. Look for more posts about what we find in the coming months!
Are you free for an hour on Saturday, March 28 or Sunday, March 29?
We’re looking for families with children ages 5-10 to evaluate a family guide for the new American Wing. In appreciation, you’ll receive $10 to The BMA Shop.
To sign-up, please email Jessica Braiterman.
This painting of a familiar-looking museum interior caught our eye on Twitter recently, so we contacted the artist to find out more about it. Kirsten Savage lives in Colorado but grew up in Maryland and received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. She told us, “Baltimore is still close to my heart and I have many fond memories of wandering the galleries and special exhibitions at the BMA with my family and friends.”
The sculpture in the painting is Aristide Maillol’s Torso of Summer, 1910-1911 (cast before 1960), from the Alan and Janet Wurtzburger Collection (BMA 1966.55.15). It is currently on view in Antioch Court.
We love seeing how people respond to the BMA. If you’ve been inspired by the collection or the building, let us know!
Do you think you’ll marry soon? Why did you come to an all-female college? Can you be more sexually free here than politically or intellectually?
Artist Sharon Hayes, acclaimed for her politically charged live performances and video works, asks these and other insightful questions to a group of college-aged women in the mesmerizing piece Ricerche: three, opening on Sunday March 15 in the BMA’s Robert and Ryda H. Levi Gallery.
The 38-minute video, which received a special mention from the Golden Lion award committee at the 2013 Venice Biennale, explores changing perspectives on gender and sexuality through the eyes of 36 students attending Mount Holyoke, an all women’s college in western Massachusetts.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Hayes returned to her hometown this past fall for the first portion of a residency at The Johns Hopkins University. She visits again in early April to continue her meetings with JHU students and to perform a live piece. The artist expects that her time in Baltimore will also inform another installment of what she intends to be an on-going series of works. Titled Ricerche (the Italian word for research or investigation) and inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film Comizi d’amore (Love Meetings). For that film, Pasolini, like Hayes, acted as both documentarian and interviewer, asking Italians to discuss their attitudes about sex.
This is the BMA’s third collaboration with JHU’s Center for Advanced Media Studies, which brings internationally recognized media artists to Baltimore. This year’s project includes a new partner—JHU’s Museums in Society program, extending the reach of the artist’s topical examination of collegiate sexual identity.
Black Box: Sharon Hayes is on at the BMA from March 15 – October 11, 2015. It has been curated by Curator of Contemporary Art Kristen Hileman and presented in collaboration with The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Advanced Media Studies and the Museums in Society program.
Interview with Sharon Hayes at the 55th International Art Exhibition, where she received a special mention from the Golden Lion award committee.
The Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair (March 27-29) is a biennial fair that brings printers, publishers, and dealers to Baltimore for one weekend to sell the latest in contemporary prints and multiples. Ranging from emerging to blue chip artists, and from $500 to $50,000, there is something for everybody. The BCPF provides a wonderful opportunity for younger and first-time collectors to add reasonably priced works of art by today’s best makers, and also offers visitors the opportunity to engage directly with the people who worked with the artists to make the prints. Staff from many of the country’s most important print studios will be on hand to tell you about their experiences and help you understand how the prints were made. It’s a not-to-miss event. In addition, to make visitors feel welcome, Museum staff will be on hand to offer guidance throughout the weekend.
If you are a first-time collector, or just looking for a better experience buying art, these tips might help.
The International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) defines an original print as a work of art on paper that has been conceived by the artist to be realized as a print, rather than as a reproduction of a work in another medium. There is always a fuzzy line between posters and prints, but suffice it to say, at the BCPF, visitors will be looking at original prints.
While most prints at the BCPF are very recent, the first thing to consider when looking at any potential purchase is condition. Check to make sure the print hasn’t been compromised, meaning it’s not scratched, torn, wrinkled, or too yellowed. You want the paper to be free of marks, creases, and dents.
If you like an image but are unfamiliar with the techniques used to realize it, ask the dealer to help you understand better. There are lots of glossaries around that describe printmaking techniques. A handy one can be found on the IFPDA’s website here: http://www.ifpda.org/content/collecting_prints/glossary.
We can’t emphasize enough the value of engaging the vendors in conversation. They are there to help you understand not only the technical aspects of a work of art, but also to help you understand what the artist was thinking; as we say in the department, the “what’s the what”.
Making a purchase
When it comes to making a purchase, please know the deal is between you and the vendor. Negotiating is part of the deal. Don’t be afraid to ask if a discount is available; it can’t hurt to try!
The bottom line on purchasing art is that purchases should not be made based on the speculative future value of the object, but it should be bought because you love it and want to live with it.
Once a purchase has been made, you’ll want to frame the work. There are many good framers in the Baltimore metro area. The museum can recommend several who will treat your purchase well. The quality of the materials the framer uses is important. The bottom line: pay for the best materials you can afford.
Care at home
Bringing your purchase home is always exciting. When considering placement within your home, several factors come into play. When possible, steady climate control is best. Dampness and heat should be avoided in the area where the print is stored, if possible. Be sure to keep your print out of direct sunlight as this can also cause damage to the ink and paper. If your print is unframed, be sure to store it flat to keep the edges from curling and/or tearing.
More information on how to care for your work on paper.
The Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair will be held at the BMA March 28-29, 2015. See the website for full details about exhibitors, and special events. Entry to the event is free for BMA Members. Tickets for non-members are $15 for both days, and $10 for one. Students and teachers with a valid I.D. are free.
Everywhere you look at the BMA, there are connections to history—from the architecture of the John Russell Pope building to the re-creation of Claribel Cone and Etta Cone’s apartments. The Museum’s Archives is reflective of this, with a rich array of materials documenting the history of the BMA, as well as the art collectors and other people who have helped shape it from 1914 to the present. Whether you have a scholarly research question or are just curious about the BMA’s past, helpful resources can be found in the Archives.
What’s in the Archives?
The Archives’ collection comprises approximately 1,400 linear feet or almost four football fields of primary source material such as letters, diaries, meeting minutes, photographs, films, audio recordings, architectural plans, research notes, and financial documents. These are divided into two distinct parts: institutional records and manuscripts. The former are records of the activities of the Museum’s staff, volunteers, and trustees. For example, the Prints, Drawings and Photographs Department Records include curators’ research for exhibitions, correspondence about purchasing works of art, and logistical documents for the Print Fairs. Manuscripts, on the other hand, are the personal papers of art collectors and others with a connection to the Museum. Claribel Cone and Etta Cone’s papers include account books listing their purchases while traveling in Europe, letters from Claribel to Etta describing life in Germany during World War I, and photographs of their apartments in Baltimore.
How do I find resources and materials?
To learn more about the materials in the Archives, start by reviewing the finding aids, which are easily keyword searchable with your browser’s find function (Ctrl+f). Because of the volume of material inside each box listed in the finding aids (often hundreds of items), you will find general descriptions of categories of materials called series or sub-series—correspondence, financial records, research, etc. When the significance of the materials warrants more information, detailed folder or item descriptions may also be included.
If you spot something that seems helpful to your research, please contact us. You don’t need to be a BMA member to visit the Archives. All researchers are welcome, by appointment, Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm. To make an appointment, call (443) 573-1778 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we’re always excited to acquire new works of art, some additions to the collection are particularly meaningful. Today, we’re very pleased to share the news that René Magritte’s 1967 sculpture Delusions of Grandeur was recently added to our collection of modern art.
The work came to the BMA as a gift of National Trustee Sylvia de Cuevas, and is the first sculpture by Magritte to enter the collection. The Belgian artist created this monumental bronze during the last year of his life and there are very few casts of it. It will be displayed, beginning this week, in a gallery with works by Magritte’s contemporaries: Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, André Masson, and Joan Miró.
We are thrilled to welcome this remarkable sculpture into the BMA’s celebrated collection of modern art. This imaginative artwork so well represents Magritte’s unique vision and is sure to become one of the most memorable artworks on view here.
BMA Director Doreen Bolger
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967) is best known for his surrealist paintings, which place ordinary objects in unusual contexts, often giving new meanings to familiar things. Delusions of Grandeur is one of a series of large bronzes that Magritte produced at the end of his life with the encouragement of his friend and dealer Alexander Iolas, who was the uncle of de Cuevas.
Much like his 1962 painting on the same theme, the work appears as a classical torso of a female figure emerging as though in telescopic form, or like a Russian matryoshka doll, each of the three segments nestled within one another. He has incorporated the theme of enlargement and reduction in this bronze with more of the figure seen in the smallest segment and less in the largest, creating a strong image of the female form.
Earlier this week, the Guardian published a piece on Magritte to mark the anniversary of his birth. Describing the artist as a “surrealist comic”, it explores the humor found in Magritte’s work. Does Delusions of Grandeur carry on this comedic tradition? You’ll have to come in and see for yourself.
Delusions of Grandeur is on display now at the BMA.
The Broken Jug
After William Merritt Chase
Look, sweet one, how she is obeying
a bargain not to be still life
How she’s been posed on the verge of speaking
yet kept silent; I don’t wish this for you.
Look, here the artist abandoned alabaster
for an earthen jug, simple clay, the color of us,
and the hills behind nearly bruised to black
set on horizon as if in the past
we must remember. Knuckle on knuckle,
that’s not the grasp of prayer. Her broken heirloom
that midwifed milk, wine watered down, whatever
drowns thirst, left on the road like a baby
doll after a war. Look, little one, how she will not
look at us. Unease on wooden shoes painted
a potato’s yellow. She’s never heard the word bastard
until a moment before dropping her jug. I imagine
her peeling potatoes down to white
while her father scrapes black ice
tobacco from his pipe, her mother dying
this scrap cloth a dull yellow
to wrap her newly womaned waist.
That wisp of a headband more red than watermelon flesh.
Steven Leyva was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in The Fiddleback, The Light Ekphrastic, The Cobalt Review, and Little Patuxent Review. He is a Cave Canem fellow, the winner of the 2012 Cobalt Review Poetry Prize, editor of the Little Patuxent Review, and author of the chapbook Low Parish. Steven holds a MFA from the University of Baltimore, where he teaches in the undergraduate writing program.
This poem by Baltimore-based poet Steven Leyva was written in response to William Merritt Chase’ Broken Jug, c. 1876. We welcome guest writers to our online discussions of art of the modern era, from the 19th century to the present. If you are a local creative writer who has been inspired by a work of art in the BMA’s collection, and would like the opportunity to be published on the BMA Blog, email BMASocial@artbma.org.
Last weekend, we celebrated Valentine’s Day at the BMA by asking visitors to share their love for art, and place a paper heart on the floor in front of an artwork crush. We had a great time watching people decide which works of art deserved their love. One couple wandered around the BMA for hours, hearts clutched in their hands, debating which work was their favorite. Dozens of children ran up to the Welcome Desk multiple times, unable to choose only one work of art to love.
In three days, there were 1705 hearts placed next to the works of art. From that, your most loved works were:
61 hearts Auguste Rodin The Thinker Original model 1880; this cast 1904-1917
48 hearts Edgar Degas Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen Original model 1881; this cast 1919-1921.
29 hearts Nick Cave Soundsuit 2013
28 hearts Louis Comfort Tiffany Window: Baptism of Christ c. 1897
23 hearts Henri Matisse Purple Robe and Anemones 1937
23 hearts Pablo Picasso Mother and Child 1922
20 hearts Auguste Rodin The Kiss Original model c. 1880-1881; this cast before 1923
20 hearts Dario Robleto American Seabed 2014
19 hearts Hugh Finlay Center Table 1820-1830
18 hearts Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot Thatched Village (Flesselles, near Amiens) 1864
Visitors were also invited to photograph their heart and favorite work of art, and post to Instagram or Twitter, tagged with #artbma #heartsforart for a chance to win a BMA Catalogue. We are pleased to announce that @draloysius (Twitter) was the winner. We’ll be in touch to discuss how you can collect your prize.
Thank you everyone who participated in #heartsforart. We loved seeing what you love. It made our week!