Team Work: Poets and Artists of the 1960s

This image is owned by The Baltimore Museum of Art; permission to reproduce this work of art must be granted in writing. Third party copyright may also be involved.
In the spring of 2016, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs Rena Hoisington taught the course “Paper Museums: Exhibiting Artists’ Books” to 11 students in Johns Hopkins University’s Program in Museums and Society. The students’ work resulted in Off the Shelf: Modern & Contemporary Artists’ Books, closing June 25. In addition to determining the exhibition’s checklist and organization, Rena’s students wrote descriptions of the artworks featured for wall labels as well as blog posts that explore individual artworks featured in Off the Shelf. This post in the blog series is by Taylor Alessio on Salute, Odes, Permanently, and The Poems.

A set of four books entitled Salute, Odes, Permanently, and The Poems printed by the Tiber Press in 1960 offers a look into the artistic and intellectual culture of New York City. Publisher Floriano Vecchi and businessman Robert Miller ran the Tiber Press, which worked almost exclusively with artists of the second generation of Abstract Expressionism, a movement defined by its spontaneity, materiality, and dedication to non-figurative art. The Tiber Press spared no expense in the making of this series, allowing the artists to create distinctive textures in their screen prints. The variety in textures was made possible by new technology in screenprinting that allowed for the layering of textures through the combination of gloss and matte inks. The poems shine equally as they were immaculately hand-pressed text on stunning hand made papers.

1991.50a-e_title

Odes is a collaboration between poet Frank O’Hara and artist Michael Goldberg, both of whom drew inspiration from the New York City arts scene.  (O’Hara would eventually become a curator at the Museum of Modern Art and Goldberg a Professor at the School of Visual Arts.) O’Hara dedicated each of the poems in this book as an ‘ode’ to something or some one, including a poem written for his collaborator. His informal, diary-like style draws the reader into his world without the heavy burden of uncovering the ‘deeper’ meaning of his poetry. The prints Goldberg created for this book are reminiscent of the graffitied walls of the New York City subway. One of the odes was a collaboration between artist and author, and the short poem appears within Goldberg’s screen print. The poem reads, “Well. / it is better / that / SOMEONE / love them / and we / so seldom look on love / that it seems heinous.” The poem is integrated into the print. Layers of color that appear to be brushed on the page in spontaneous motions are layered together with the text which are not printed in letterpress but are in the artist’s hand, and are a part of the print.

This image is owned by The Baltimore Museum of Art; permission to reproduce this work of art must be granted in writing. Third party copyright may also be involved.Another interesting and influential pair brought together by the series are the Pulitzer prize winning poet and art critic James Schuyler and the acclaimed artist Grace Hartigan.  (In 1960, the same year Tiber Press published this volume, Hartigan moved to Baltimore and soon began teaching at the Maryland Institute College of Art where she eventually became the Director of the Hoffberger Graduate School of Painting.) Their book, Salute, takes on the themes of the city and nature. Schuyler’s poem, “A HEAD,” contemplates angels, life, and death, he also considers the small annoyances in life, “fulfilled plans that no longer suit the hour / appetites that sicken and are not slacked / (such as for milkshakes), / lost or stolen handkerchiefs / invisible contagion / (like the common cold).” The image accompanying the poem, later entitled Salute: This So-Called Angel yellow and black color scheme is reminiscent of city streets. While the poet and artist do not directly confront the city in this opening, they take up some of the relatable bits of everyday life and express them through poetry and art.

These two examples demonstrate the web of artists and poets involved in creating this set of books. All of them, drawn together by Vecchi, may have already been influencing and critiquing each other before they were brought together for this collaboration. The freedom given to both the artists and poets by Vecchi allowed for the creation of four books that push the medium of screen-printing to create incredible new textures and allow poetry and art to interact across the page.

Images:  Michael Goldberg. Odes. 1960. Illustrated book with images on the cover, title page and 3 pages by the artist. Text by Frank O’Hara. Bound volume with five color screenprints (including image on the cover and title page) and text. Book: 453 × 363 mm. (17 13/16 × 14 5/16 in.). The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Floriano Vecchi, New York, in Memory of William Richard Miller, BMA 1991.50. Copyright Michael Goldberg Estate; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
Grace Hartigan. Salute. 1960. Bound volume with five color screenprints (including image on the cover and title page) and text. Bookcover: 453 x 363 mm.; slipcover: 463 x 370 mm.. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Floriano Vecchi, New York, in Memory of William Richard Miller, BMA 1991.51. ©Estate of Grace Hartigan

Die Scheuche: Avant-Garde for Children

Kurt Schwitters, Käte Steinitz, and Theo van Doesburg. The Scarecrow. 1925. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased with funds contributed to Celebrate the 90th Birthday of Beatrice Levi; Nelson and Juanita Greif Gutman Fund; and Art Acquisition Fund, BMA 2009.114 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

In the spring of 2016, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs Rena Hoisington taught the course “Paper Museums: Exhibiting Artists’ Books” to 11 students in Johns Hopkins University’s Program in Museums and Society. The students’ work resulted in Off the Shelf: Modern & Contemporary Artists’ Books, closing June 25. In addition to determining the exhibition’s checklist and organization, Rena’s students wrote descriptions of the artworks featured for wall labels as well as blog posts that explore individual artworks featured in Off the Shelf. This post in the blog series is by Grace Golden on Die Scheuche:

I’ve been assigned to read dozens of books throughout my college career, but before this course I have never been assigned a children’s book.

Die Scheuche, or The Scarecrow, is not a normal children’s book. A collaboration between the German artists Kurt Schwitters and Kate Steinitz as well as the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg, Die Scheuche presents avant-garde concepts to children and adults through a series of typographic illustrations. Kurt Schwitters is often linked to the modernist movement of Dada, which rejected reason and embraced chaos. Theo van Doesburg was a member of the De Stijl movement, which limited expression to abstract, geometric forms and primary colors. Die Scheuche clearly presents the influences of these movements.

The farmer (represented by an uppercase B) threatens and kicks the scarecrow (represented by an uppercase X).

The farmer (represented by an uppercase B) threatens and kicks the scarecrow (represented by an uppercase X).

The story focuses on a scarecrow that owns a top hat, cane, and silk scarf. He feuds with a farmer, a rooster, and chickens, who hack at the scarecrow until he loses his belongings to the ghosts of their former owners. The story is radical and undoubtedly silly, but it successfully packages modernist concepts and design into an entertaining children’s book.

Each spread of Die Scheuche is made up of a red and blue page, each displaying sans serif illustrations and text. The narrative text is integrated into typographic illustrations, with the layouts growing increasingly complicated with each turn of the page. An uppercase letter represents each character, transforming the alphabet into a set of anthropomorphic figures who interact with the dialogue and narrative text directly.

The Dada and De Stijl movements both focused on destroying the future in order to usher in the future, the main theme of Die Scheuche. The scarecrow is literally a straw man, representing the past. His fanciful clothing links him to the bourgeois culture that Dada aims to destroy. The farmer, the rooster, and the chickens hack away at his accouterments until they reveal that he has no substance. Although less direct than most children’s books, the complexity of Die Scheuche reflects the movements from which it is derived. The overlap of De Stijl and Dada concepts is paired with the overlap of visual narrative and illustration, creating a fully integrated and experimental children’s fable.

Bibliography: Atzmon, Leslie. 1996. The Scarecrow Fairytale: A Collaboration of Theo Van Doesburg and Kurt Schwitters. Design Issues 12 (3). The MIT Press: 14–34. doi:10.2307/1511700.

Schwitters, Kurt, Annja Müller-Alsbach, and Heinz Stahlhut. Kurt Schwitters: Merz—A Total Vision of the World. Wabern/Bern: Benteli, 2004.

Image credit: Kurt Schwitters, Käte Steinitz, and Theo van Doesburg. The Scarecrow. 1925. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased with funds contributed to Celebrate the 90th Birthday of Beatrice Levi; Nelson and Juanita Greif Gutman Fund; and Art Acquisition Fund, BMA 2009.114 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

 

Fairy Tale Etchings by David Hockney

"THE OLDER RAPUNZEL" FROM ILLUSTRATIONS FOR SIX FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM 1969 ETCHING IN BLACK 9 1/2 X 10" © DAVID HOCKNEY PHOTO CREDIT: RICHARD SCHMIDT

David Hockney. “The Older Rapunzel” from “Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm,” 1969. Etching Edition of 100 Portfolio and 100 Book-C. 17 3/4 x 16 1/4″ © David Hockney

In the spring of 2016, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs Rena Hoisington taught the course “Paper Museums: Exhibiting Artists’ Books” to 11 students in Johns Hopkins University’s Program in Museums and Society. The students’ work resulted in Off the Shelf: Modern & Contemporary Artists’ Books, now open.

The exhibition presents more than 130 artists’ books—artworks conceived of and produced in book form—and prints by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Kiki Smith, David Hockney, and Ed Ruscha. Stephen King, Frank O’Hara, and Robert Creeley are among the 30+ authors represented. More than half of the artists’ books and related prints in the exhibition have never before been on view at the BMA.

In addition to determining the exhibition’s checklist and organization, Rena’s students wrote descriptions of the artworks featured for wall labels as well as blog posts that explore individual artworks featured in Off the Shelf. The first in the blog series is by Julia Raphael on David Hockney’s etchings:

In 1970, Petersburg Press published Six Fairy Tales, a collection of stories by the Brothers Grimm with etchings by David Hockney. The six stories that Hockney chose to include are: The Little Sea Hare, Fundevogel, Rapunzel, The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear, Old Rinkrank, and Rumpelstilzchen.  Upon first viewing Six Fairy Tales, I was immediately struck by what a distinctly different and innovative approach Hockney took to illustrating the tales contained in this book. I, and I might venture to say most readers, have become accustomed to encountering publications of fairy tales that are elaborately illustrated in bright colors with fantastic ornamentation. We’ve developed this conception from many of the other illustrated versions that exist of these same stories and even from the popular Disney films based on tales by the Brothers Grimm.

It is well known that Hockney has a great affinity for the Brothers Grimm’s work, having read more than 200 of their folktales. Regarding their tales Hockney said that, “They’re fascinating little stories, told in a very, very simple, direct and straightforward language and style; it was their simplicity that attracted me. They cover quite a strange range of experience from the magical to the moral.”[1]  His etchings reflect much of what Hockney himself said he admires most about the stories.

Each story is accompanied by a number of illustrations – as few as four and as many as 11. Interestingly, when illustrating the stories, Hockney did not always choose to illustrate the passages that were the most dramatic or significant for the advancement of the plot. Instead, he chose those parts of the text that most inspired his imagination or presented artistic challenges. For example, Hockney chose to illustrate the glass mountain from Old Rinkrank because it was not immediately clear how one would go about drawing such a mountain and he wanted to explore that graphic dilemma.  He chose to include “The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear” because it is such a strange, imaginative story that presented a breadth of artistic opportunities. [2]

Additionally, Hockney chose to portray a much less idealized version of the stories in which even the princesses are not strikingly beautiful, as is shown above in his etching “The Older Rapunzel.”  This unusual presentation challenges the viewer to think about the tales in a different light and emphasizes some of the darker themes present in the stories.

Hockney’s etchings—simple in composition, yet incredible detailed—offer the reader a different way of engaging with these popular fairy tales, effectively leaving their creative interpretation up to the reader.

[1] Robert Flynn Johnson, “David Hockney and the Brothers Grimm,” David Hockney: Six Fairy Tales, Landau Traveling Exhibitions, 2010.

[2] “David Hockney: Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm,” Christies, http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/prints-multiples/david-hockney-illustrations-for-six-fairy-tales-5532594-details.aspx.

Spitting Images

For all of the spectators at the BMA and online who got a glimpse of last Saturday’s Areas for Action event with artist Oliver Herring, here is an interview with two of the participants, Lulu Bao and Kel Millionie, who share what the experience was like for them:

What inspired you to participate in this art event?

Lulu Bao - half-way through her Areas for Action experience

Lulu Bao – half-way through her Areas for Action experience

LULU: It was the email I received from BMA Volunteer Coordinator Rachel Sanchez mentioning the wall painting with Oliver Herring. The image of being part of the art project came in to my mind suddenly, then I thought I couldn’t miss the chance to have this unique life experience. I wanted to step a bit out of my comfort zone and embrace something I have never done before.

KEL: I’ve been an admirer of Oliver Herring’s work since before we acquired his Areas forAction portfolio of videos and portraits in 2011. I wanted to experience his art from the perspective of a participant vs. a spectator or viewer.

Were you surprised by how often you were directed to spit on each other? How would you describe that experience?

LULU: I was not very surprised because I watched some videos of Areas for Action on YouTube before the event. I think the experience created an intimate connection between us as volunteers, as well as with the artist and the audience. Some key words in my mind to describe my experience would be: excited, open-minded, and emotional.

KEL: I was not surprised at how many times I was spat upon or spat onto others.

Kellan Johnson (l) and Kel Millionie (r) in Areas for Action.

Kellan Johnson (l) and Kel Millionie (r) in Areas for Action.

I’ve watched many of Oliver Herring’s videos and they show this as part of the process. Regarding being spat upon: at first it is quite jarring, cold, and shocking to be spat upon so forcefully.  Many people have said they find it “gross” or “unsanitary,” but I did not feel it was either.

How has participating in the event as a volunteer change the experience for you?

LULU: Becoming part of the art performance gave me a chance to understand the artist’s thoughts from a different angle. By transferring my identity from an art viewer to a member in the performance, I felt more involved. I asked the artist about his thinking of controlling and losing control during the process because for most of the time we were trying to do the things as he wanted, but at some points we were able to choose colors or areas that we wanted to spray. There was some certainty and some uncertainty of this event outcome and I don’t think I would have considered that if I hadn’t been part of the experience.

KEL:  I find his process of directing volunteers to create his art familiar because I am a theater director and designer and often tell performers how to move and behave in controlled spaces.

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Artist Oliver Herring directing Areas for Action volunteers.

What was your favorite moment?

LULU: I love the moment when I was asked to climb to someone’s shoulder, because at that moment I had to trust someone I just met.  I memorized the feeling of holding his hands and trusting the artist and my partner so well even several days after the event.

KEL: Looking in the mirror after the four-hour experience was over.

Do you have any advice for future Areas for Action volunteers?

LULU: I would suggest future volunteers to go to restrooms right before the performance and get ready for not going there for hours (like a half-day). :)  Also, it is necessary to get used to bare feet because wet socks won’t feel good if you have to step into the colored water. Trying not to laugh while having water in your mouth is important, otherwise, you may choke, which can be a bit unpleasant.

KEL: Give in!

Dressing Degas’ Little Dancer

 

degas-dancer

One of the most popular works in the BMA’s collection is Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen by French artist Edgar Degas. The BMA recently received a query about her attire and we are delighted to share BMA Senior Registrar Melanie Harwood’s answers to these questions.

How frequently are the skirt and ribbon changed?
Only when necessary. It’s occurred twice for the skirt and once for the ribbon since the work entered the collection. The skirt that came with the figure in 1943 (presumably the original from the 20’s) deteriorated over time and was augmented with more fabric, cotton wadding and wire in an attempt to keep it somewhat tutu-like. The decision was made in 1979 to replace it entirely and to replace the ribbon which the BMA cast had been missing for some time. The fabric and color of skirt was matched as closely as possible to the remains of the original. The use of a green ribbon is based on a contemporary description of the wax original which refers to the color as “leek green.” Time has caused the green to change to more of a golden hue.  The only change was to lengthen the skirt to more closely resemble Degas’ sketches and the common tutus of the time. Classic short tutus were an invention of the 1880s and not commonly in use when Degas sculpted the figure in 1881. 
The skirt was replaced again in 1998 due to deterioration but the ribbon was not.

Where does the fabric come from?
The fabric is a cotton “tarlatan” (gauze) dyed to a greenish brown and the ribbon is silk. The tarlatan is generally available through theatrical suppliers.

Do all Degas “Little Dancers” have skirts and ribbons?
All Degas “Little Dancers” have skirts, but not all have ribbons. In 1979 I conducted an informal survey of the “Little Dancers”. Out of eleven institutions contacted, four had the original skirts (in deteriorated condition, short, and augmented with cotton and wiring) and six had ribbons of varying colors. The only ribbon that was thought to be original was described as “yellowish” (also interesting as ours has faded from green to “yellowish).

 Who changes the skirt and ribbon?
In 1979 the museum did not have a conservator of sculpture so the designer and I took on the project with the oversight of the curators. The second change was handled by the conservators and they would direct any future re-dressings as well.

 Are there specifications regarding the way the skirt hangs or the ribbon is tied?
The bronzes were cast from the original wax (now in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington) after Degas’ death and Mlle Jean Fevre, the niece of the artist, dressed the figures in skirts to resemble those on the wax. I’ve never seen images or a contemporary description of these skirts and ribbons.  By this time the wax figure was forty years old and I’ve always wondered if the skirt Mlle. Le Fevre was imitating was shortened by age. It’s an interesting exercise as Degas never saw the bronze, but our aim has always been to maintain an appearance as close to the original wax of 1881 and his other dance images as possible.

Edgar Degas. Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. Original model 1881; this cast 1919-1921. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Alice Morawetz Bequest Fund. BMA 1943.1

Interview with Matisse/Diebenkorn Curator Katy Rothkopf

In October, the BMA will present the first major exhibition to show the profound influence of French artist Henri Matisse (1869–1954) on the work of American artist Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993). Co-organized with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, this ambitious exhibition builds on the BMA’s reputation for presenting new scholarship on Matisse inspired by the collection. More than 90 artworks—most loaned from museums and private collections in the U.S. and Europe— will reveal Diebenkorn’s deep connection to Matisse, and present a new view of both artists.

katy_sjs2875_cropSenior Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Katy Rothkopf tells us about her work on this landmark exhibition.

What inspired Matisse/Diebenkorn?
When I began to think about the influence of Matisse on subsequent generations, the first artist that came to mind was Diebenkorn, whose work I knew from The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. I began to explore the idea more seriously after seeing two drawings by each artist in the BMA’s collection, which were very similar yet created 40 years apart. Although the influence of Matisse on Diebenkorn had often been discussed in art literature, their works had never been presented together in a major exhibition.

Were you surprised by anything you found in your research?
Thanks to a wonderful colleague at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, we were sent a copy of a letter that Diebenkorn wrote to a graduate student in 1981 where he described all of his most important interactions with Matisse’s work starting in the 1940s. It confirmed that Diebenkorn had come to see the Cone Collection in Baltimore.

How would you describe Diebenkorn’s art?
Diebenkorn was unusual in that he effortlessly moved from abstraction to representation and back to abstraction over the course of a long and successful career. His paintings are beautiful and compelling because of his experimentation with color and structure in both his abstract and representational works.

Can you give some examples of Matisse’s influence on Diebenkorn?
Both artists loved color and composed paintings that explore the space where an interior and exterior meet within a window or doorway. Diebenkorn was also fascinated with the idea of flattening space and told his students to paint flat like Matisse.

What aspect of this exhibition are you most excited about?
The BMA’s exhibition will allow visitors to see Diebenkorn’s journey as he discovered Matisse, while juxtaposing his work with some of Matisse’s greatest paintings. Seeing how they look together side-by-side is going to be a thrill.

See more examples of both artist’s work side-by-side in this short video.

 

 

Rarely Shown Aaron Douglas Watercolor Now On View

Aaron Douglas. Study for Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery through Reconstruction. 1934. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased with exchange funds from The Edward Joseph Gallagher III Memorial Collection, BMA 2004.179 © Heirs of Aaron Douglas/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Aaron Douglas. Study for Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery through Reconstruction. 1934. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased with exchange funds from The Edward Joseph Gallagher III Memorial Collection, BMA 2004.179. © Heirs of Aaron Douglas/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The BMA’s stunning Aaron Douglas opaque watercolor, Study for Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction, is now on view at the Museum for the first time in nearly a decade. This extraordinary work is being presented in conjunction with the Maryland Humanities 2016 “One Maryland One Book” All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The young adult novel has a character named Rashad who is a high school student inspired by Aaron Douglas’ art:

“Let me describe what his work looks like. Imagine The Lion King. But all the lions are people. Black people. So Simba and Mufasa, are, let’s say, a black king and a prince. Now, imagine that you’re looking at them through the thickest fog ever. So thick that you can’t make out any actual feature on their bodies, but you can still see their silhouettes. So it could be any king. Or any prince. But you can still tell they’re black. That’s Aaron Douglas’s work. And the first time Mrs. Caperdeen [Rashad’s teacher] showed us a slide from his series Aspects of Negro Life, I knew the kind of art I wanted to start making.” (All American Boys, pp. 143-144)

Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) was a pioneering African-American artist whose style contains a multitude of influences: Art Deco and Cubism, African and Egyptian art, spirituals, and jazz. Hailing from Topeka, Kansas with a fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska, Douglas made his way to New York in 1925. There he fell in with the artists, poets, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, designing jacket covers and illustrations for publications by the likes of James Weldon Johnson and his good friend (and fellow Kansan) Langston Hughes. Douglas’s striking work led to mural painting—first for private and then for public spaces.

In 1934, Douglas received a commission—the most important of his career—from the Public Works of Art Project, a new federal program, to paint a mural cycle for the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, now known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Douglas’s four-part mural cycle, completed by the year’s end, numbered among 1,400 murals depicting “the American scene” that were created under this New Deal initiative for public spaces throughout the United States. Douglas embraced the challenge. Entitled Aspects of Negro Life, Douglas’s four oil paintings depict an ambitious narrative of black progress, encompassing slavery, Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the Depression while contending with issues of black identity, the search for freedom, and the power of education.

In 2004, the BMA acquired an extraordinary study for the second mural in this cycle, From Slavery through Reconstruction. Although Douglas made several changes between this drawing and the final painting—a more complex composition with twice as many figures—the narrative arc of rising up from oppression and suffering remains the same.

The frieze-like composition of silhouetted, stylized figures is bookended by scenes of horror and sadness: to the left are shackled, toiling slaves; to the right is a family grieving the loss of a loved one to lynching. These groups frame scenes of emancipatory struggle: at center left, we see a woman with broken shackles and a rifle in hand, none other than Harriet Tubman, conductor of the Underground Railroad; at center right marches a group of helmeted Union soldiers with bayonets over their shoulders, an allusion to the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, one of the first African-American regiments. At the work’s luminous center, a man stands holding a book and pointing to a mountaintop vision with twin symbols of modernity: a skyscraper and a smoke-spewing factory. The entire composition is overlaid with an abstract pattern of translucent, concentric circles, the centermost focusing the eye on the pointing man’s confident stance and gesture.

In his powerful treatment of historical, political, and racial themes, Douglas looked back in time, and also cast his gaze at the Depression-era world around him. Some eight decades later, his work—giving visual form to the hardships and aspirations of African-Americans—still speaks to us with its indelible passion and hope.

Due to the light-sensitive nature of works on paper, Study for Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction will be on view for a limited time in the BMA’s Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing 20th-century gallery. Stop by and see it through December 4, 2016.

Books for Art Lovers

This is a print of a snow scene at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. People dressed in dark clothes carry umbrellas and shoulder against the wind.

Henri Rivière (French, 1864-1951) and Georges Auriol (French, 1863-1938). Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower. 1888-1902, published 1902. Bound volume of 36 color lithographs. Purchased as the gift of Louis Berman, Glyndon, Maryland, BMA 2001.290

The BMA recently received a grant of $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts toward a new exhibition on artists’ books scheduled for the spring of 2017.

Artists’ books, according to a common definition, are “works of art in the form of a book.” The simplicity and broadness of this description encompasses works that are as multifarious, complex, and expressive as art in any other medium.  By nature a collaborative project at the crossroads of bookmaking and art-making, the artist’s book brings artists together with writers, printers, and publishers in a melding of perspectives that can lead to exciting and unexpected outcomes.

The exhibition will feature a selection of approximately 120 artists’ books and related prints by Jasper Johns, Barbara Kruger, Pablo Picasso, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others from the BMA’s superlative collection of late 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art.  It will be the capstone of a two-part, collaborative project between the BMA and the Program in Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University that is funded in part by a grant to JHU from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  This spring, Rena M. Hoisington, BMA Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs, taught the course “Paper Museums: Exhibiting Artists’ Books at The Baltimore Museum of Art” for 11 undergraduates from JHU, Loyola University Maryland, and the Maryland Institute College of Art.  The students met weekly in the BMA’s Samuel H. Kress Foundation Study Room of Prints, Drawings & Photographs, where they had the opportunity to work directly with the artists’ books.  In addition to writing label texts and blog posts for these books, the students helped to determine the checklist and thematic organization of the exhibition.  More than half the works they chose have never been exhibited before at the BMA.

With checklist in hand, Hoisington and her BMA colleagues can now move forward with more detailed planning of the exhibition itself.  The generous funding from NEA and Mellon will help to defray the costs of the installation, digitization, and programming—all three of which are essential to creating a visually stimulating exhibition that will provide access to these rarely seen works while educating audiences about this important artistic medium.

One of the earliest books that will be included in this exhibition is Henri Rivière’s 1902 publication Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower, which was inspired by a series of color woodcuts entitled Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji by the 19th-century Japanese printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.  With this elegant publication, Rivière sought to equate the importance of the Eiffel Tower, a marvel of modern French industrial design completed in 1889, with the spiritual significance of Japan’s Mount Fuji.  Rivière’s inventive compositions not only document the construction of the tower—based in part on photographs he took from within the heights of the structure itself—but also reveal its impact on the cityscape of Paris.  In the same way that Hokusai had presented Mount Fuji, each page shows the Eiffel Tower from a different vantage point, in varying weather conditions and times of year.

A landscape with leaves in the foreground and clouds and the top of the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Henri Rivière (French, 1864-1951) and Georges Auriol (French, 1863-1938). Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower
1888-1902, published 1902. Bound volume of 36 color lithographs. Purchased as the gift of Louis Berman, Glyndon, Maryland, BMA 2001.290

This is a print of men working on the Eiffel Tower, perched precariously on wooden planks.

Henri Rivière (French, 1864-1951) and Georges Auriol (French, 1863-1938). Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower. 1888-1902, published 1902. Bound volume of 36 color lithographs. Purchased as the gift of Louis Berman, Glyndon, Maryland, BMA 2001.290

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden is Back!

jazzFB2

The BMA’s popular Jazz in the Sculpture Garden concert series is back! Join fellow jazz enthusiasts for this one-of-a-kind summer event with regional and national talents performing amidst a fantastic collection of modern art in the museum’s lush Sculpture Garden. Performers this year are Tizer Quartet featuring Karen Briggs, Don Braden Quintet featuring Vanessa Rubin, and Tony Tovar y Proyecto Jazz.

Concert-goers can choose intimate concert seating provided by the BMA or bring their own chairs or blankets for a picnic. Gertrude’s restaurant offers Jazz+Dinner tickets, which include an elegant three-course meal served on the terrace during the concert.

tizerPerformers
AUGUST 6 – TIZER QUARTET FEATURING KAREN BRIGGS
Lauded as a “master” by The Baltimore Sun, keyboardist Lao Tizer and his group will be joined by violinist Karen Briggs. The jazz violinist extraordinaire has performed with Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, and Wu-Tang Clan.
donBraden

AUGUST 13 – DON BRADEN QUINTET FEATURING VANESSA RUBIN
Renowned saxophonist Don Braden has headlined concerts around the world and been featured with greats such as Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, and Freddie Hubbard. Vanessa Rubin will lend her incredible range and liquid phrasing to the night.

tonyTovar

AUGUST 20 – TONY TOVAR Y PROYECTO JAZZ
Get up and salsa or sit back and sway with Proyecto Jazz—a virtual who’s who of the best Latin artists on the D.C. jazz scene, featuring Tony Tovar on trombone.

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden will take place on select Saturdays in August at 7 p.m. Concerts regularly sell out so advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Tickets are $45 and go on sale to the general public beginning June 15. BMA Member tickets are $30 and go on sale June 1.

Celebrated quilt expert Robert Shaw comes to the BMA

This Saturday, celebrated quilt expert Robert Shaw will be at the BMA to give a lecture on art quilts. One of the most highly regarded experts on contemporary and antique quilts in the world, Shaw is the author of such critically acclaimed definitive books as The Art Quilt, Art Quilts: A Celebration, and American Quilts: The Democratic Art.

Shaw’s talk will address how from 1800 to the present day there have always been art quilts that were primarily decorative, as well as utilitarian pieces that transcend function and rise to the level of art. He will also comment on several works in the BMA’s current exhibition New Arrivals: Art Quilts.

Robert Shaw will speak at the BMA on Saturday, May 14, at 2 p.m. The free event is generously sponsored by Herbert Katzenberg and Susan Katzenberg in memory of
Gloria B. Katzenberg. 

A textile pattern of mountains, primarily composed of purples, with greens, pinks, and oranges dispersed across the scene.

Adrien Rothschild. Purple Mountains. 1991. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Artist, Baltimore, BMA 1998.360