Category Archives: Baltimore

The BMA Looks Forward

2015 Front StepsDirector Doreen Bolger’s retirement at the end of June has prompted the Board of Trustees to begin the search for a new director to lead the BMA as it enters its second century. A committee has been formed to conduct an international search and they are also interested in harnessing ideas from everyone to help them find the next leader for our beloved institution.

BMA Trustee Michael Rosenbaum was named chairman of the nine-member search committee, which is comprised of Trustees with a broad range of public and private sector experience. The other committee members are Clair Zamoiski Segal; former Board Chairs Suzanne F. Cohen, Stiles Tuttle Colwill, and Margot W.M. Heller; and Trustees William Backstrom, Alexander C. Baer, Patricia H. Joseph, and James D. Thornton.

The committee has already had its first meeting and plans to engage an international search firm to ensure candidates are considered from a diverse array of backgrounds, professional experience, and geography. They also want to hear from individuals and groups who are currently or in the past have been involved with the BMA, as well as others who may never even have considered how their interests and concerns connect with those of an art museum.

As of now, they are not yet soliciting thoughts about specific director candidates or qualifications for the new director. Instead, they would be most grateful for your thoughts about the following questions:

  • What do you want to see from the BMA in the coming years?
  • What would you like to see the BMA become in the next decade?

Juried and Invitational Exhibitions at the BMA

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First Annual Exhibition of Maryland Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1933

As the recently announced 2015 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize finalists prepare for their exhibition at the BMA this summer, I am working with the Archives’ Juried and Invitational Exhibitions Records and giving much thought to the incredible creative output of Maryland’s artists over the past century and the BMA’s role in displaying it.  From the moment the BMA opened its doors in 1923, opportunities for local artists to exhibit their work were a part of each year’s schedule of exhibitions.  With the opening of the John Russell Pope building in 1929, the BMA was able to develop its own exhibitions and expand its relationship with local artists.  The records I am processing as part of the Library and Archives’ NHPRC grant project document group exhibitions such as the BMA’s Maryland and Regional Artists Exhibitions, the Baltimore International Salon of Photography, and annual exhibitions of the work of members of the Baltimore Water Color Club and the Artists’ Union of Baltimore.

This week I am nearing the end of arranging and describing the largest part of the records, the Maryland and Regional Artists Exhibitions files (21 boxes of material).  The files document a long-running series of exhibitions of the work of local and regional artists organized by the BMA beginning in 1933.  Following a highly successful series of solo exhibitions at the Museum in 1930 to 1932, space considerations and the number of artists in the state interested in exhibiting work led to the decision to instead hold a major group exhibition for Maryland artists.  Although it wasn’t long before the solo exhibitions started up again, the Maryland and Regional Artists exhibitions continued for nearly 60 years.

Exhibition catalog, Maryland Artists Twentieth Annual Exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1952

Exhibition catalog, Maryland Artists Twentieth Annual Exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1952

The contents of the files for each exhibition vary, but most contain material about the logistics of bringing artwork into the BMA and hanging it on the walls, facilitating purchases, and returning the work that remained after the exhibition.  Cards or lists of entries provide information about the work each artist entered.  Some files also contain correspondence with artists, jurors, and museum visitors–complaints and praise for the most part.  Through these letters, it has been interesting to note how each year the challenges of coordinating the exhibitions shifted as the BMA’s staff worked to weather difficulties such as World War II and changes in artistic influences as new art movements made their way to Baltimore.

Perhaps surprising to those who aren’t from Maryland is the number of nationally-known artists who worked in the area between 1933 and 1992: Grace Hartigan, Morris Louis, Lowell Nesbitt, Martin Puryear, Amalie Rothschild, Anne Truitt, and May Wilson, to name a few.  All submitted work to the Maryland and Regional Artists Exhibitions at least once.  Jurors for the exhibitions also included influential artists, critics, and curators such as Max Weber, Betty Parsons, Richard Tuttle, Sam Hunter, and Dore Ashton.

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Grace Hartigan, Maryland Artists Invitational exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1968

In an effort to please artists and visitors and to support its small staff, the BMA revised the format of the exhibitions several times.  A separate exhibition for Maryland crafts was held in 1952, 1953, and 1954.  Beginning in 1953, regional exhibitions including the works of artists from Washington, D.C. and Delaware alternated years with the strictly Maryland exhibitions.  An invitational was attempted in 1968, followed by a move to biennial exhibitions from 1974-1985.  The exhibitions ultimately ended with Maryland by Invitation in 1992 which featured the work of artists Jeff Gates and Lisa Lewenz, but the commitment to Maryland artists lives on through the Sondheim exhibitions, the Baker Artists’ Prize exhibitions, and the Front Room exhibitions in the Contemporary Wing—Baltimore-born artist Sara VanDerBeek’s work is on view now!

Great News for Landmark Matisse/Diebenkorn Exhibition

Today’s grant announcement from the National Endowment of the Arts brings BMA Senior Curator Katy Rothkopf another step closer to realizing her dream of pairing the work of French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and American artist Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993).

Katy first conceived the idea for the exhibition many years ago as part of the BMA’s ongoing commitment to studying Matisse’s work. She saw two drawings of a reclining woman in the BMA’s collection by both artists and noticed an unmistakable similarity between the Frenchman’s and American’s work. Yet these images were created four decades and two continents apart. Since then, Katy has examined many artworks that show resonances between the two painters. She also made several trips to California to meet with the Diebenkorn family, including the artist’s widow before she passed this year, and even got to see the Diebenkorn’s extensive personal collection of books about Matisse.

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Henri Matisse. Reclining Model with a Flowered Robe, c. 1923. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, BMA 1950.12.52

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Richard Diebenkorn. Woman Seated in a Chair, 1963. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Thomas E. Benesch Memorial Collection, BMA 1970.21.3

Diebenkorn was introduced to Matisse’s work in the early 1940s, then immersed himself in the French master’s work in 1952 when a major retrospective of the artist’s paintings came to Los Angeles. He was completely taken by the color and structure of the oil paintings and inspired by Matisse’s willingness to show evidence of his creative process, and began to seek out examples of his work whenever he could. The effect on his work was transformational. A subsequent Matisse exhibition in 1966 captivated Diebenkorn even further.

Matisse’s emphasis on geometric structure, spatial relationships, and a bold, colorful painting style was of great importance to Diebenkorn. Both artists loved to show both the inside and outside in their compositions, often focusing on windows or doorways that include views beyond. In Window, Diebenkorn pays homage to Matisse at his most radical, combining a subject that was a favorite of both artists with pared down detail and broad, geometric fields of color. The decorative wrought iron grille and solitary chair in Window further link the composition to Matisse, who made many paintings of his home and studio that included these elements, such as in Goldfish and Palette of 1914.

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Goldfish and Palette, 1914. The Museum of Modern Art, New York: Gift and bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn and Samual A. Marx, 507.1964

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Window, 1967. Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Diebenkorn and anonymous donors, 1969.125 CR1414

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast-forward a decade later, the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition is now being co-organized by the BMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) for presentations on each coast in 2016-2017. This landmark exhibition will bring together more than 80 paintings and drawings by Matisse and Diebenkorn from museums and private collections around the world. Seeing these two great artist’s works paired side-by-side for the first time is an event everyone wants to be a part of.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a color catalogue with images of all of the works featured, as well as additional illustrations for the introduction by the distinguished Matisse scholar John Elderfield and essays by Katy Rothkopf and SFMOMA Curator Janet Bishop.

In addition to works from the BMA’s and SFMOMA’s collections, stellar examples of each artist’s work are being loaned by the Musée National d’Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York.

Generous support for the exhibition has come from The Henry Luce Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art in addition to the National Endowment for the Arts.

BMA and Direct Dimensions – bringing 3D technology to Artscape

A 3D replica of The Thinker, on the steps of the BMA. Find these around Artscape for your opportunity to win a high-resolution bust of yourself created by Direct Dimensions.

A 3D replica of The Thinker, on the steps of the BMA. Find these around Artscape for your opportunity to win a high-resolution bust of yourself created by Direct Dimensions.

Today is the first day of Artscape – America’s largest free arts festival. Always a major feature on the Baltimore cultural landscape, the annual event includes theater, dance, and opera performances; classical, a cappella, and experimental music; street theater, fine art and crafts; film; and children’s activities. This year, The BMA is offering multiple opportunities for visitors to Artscape to interact with us.

Inspired by our recent partnership with Direct Dimensions to scan Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, the BMA has three activities at the festival:

    • BMA Biggest Thinkers – Tell us your best memories, biggest ideas, and burning questions at the booth, on social media, or at blog.artbma.org.  In appreciation, the top 100 participants will receive a mini replica of The Thinker created from Direct Dimensions’ high-resolution scan of the BMA’s sculpture.
  • Thinker Scavenger Hunt – Search for any or all of the five 9-inch 3D replicas of The Thinker placed around the festival, take your photo with it, and post it on Twitter or Instagram with #bmabigthinker for a chance to win a high-resolution bust of yourself created by Direct Dimensions.  The winner will be announced Monday, July 21.
  • Free 3D Face Scanning – Stop by the BMA booth to receive a free 3D face scan from Direct Dimensions with the option to purchase your likeness as a 3D selfie, Lego piece, bracelet charm, mug or other products from ShapeShot.com.

We look forward to seeing you at Artscape! Drop by the BMA’s booth and get a fan or a face scan, and tell your stories of the BMA via social media using the #BMABigThinker hashtag. We’d love to hear from you.

Artscape is on in the Mt. Royal area of Baltimore City from Friday, July 18 through Sunday, July 20. You can find the BMA’s booth located on the plaza next to MICA’s Brown Center (1301 Mt. Royal Ave.)

 

Women in the arts = leaders in business

Julia Marciari-Alexander, Rebecca Hoffberger, Doreen Bolger and Marin Alsop: presenters of the 2014 Charles J. Busta III Lecture in Business, April 22, 2014 at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Julia Marciari-Alexander, Rebecca Hoffberger, Doreen Bolger and Marin Alsop: presenters of the 2014 Charles J. Busta III Lecture in Business, April 22, 2014 at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

By Nancy Proctor

I tweeted this equation at the start of the 2014 Charles J. Busta III Lecture in Business, “The Arts Transforming Communities,” delivered on April 22, 2014 by Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony OrchestraDoreen Bolger, Director of the Baltimore Museum of ArtRebecca Hoffberger, Director of the American Visionary Art Museum; and Julia Marciari-Alexander, Executive Director of the Walters Art Museum. What followed was an inspiring series of very personal stories from some of the most prominent leaders in the local and national cultural scenes. I found myself almost envying the young women of Notre Dame of Maryland University who were able to hear from such shining role models so early in life. Without trailblazers and precedents, it is a greater uphill struggle for women to assume leadership roles, even in arts organizations, which are overwhelmingly staffed by women but count few female directors as this ArtsFWD post by Eleanor Whitney noted. Indeed, diversity in all its forms is lacking throughout arts organizations and their audiences as in business in general; Nina Simon wrote and gathered links to other insightful posts and events on the topic this last year, and the conversation is sure to continue.

This year’s Busta Lecture event was an important step along the road to a better place for the arts and their audiences, and a proud night for Baltimore to see its own transformation in the stories of these innovative leaders. Fortunately, the gracious hosts at NDMU posted all their talks online so you can check them out yourself. We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions!