Category Archives: Exhibitions

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

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

 

Home Stories Profiles: Michelle Gomez and Anthony Summers

Anthony Summers and Michelle Gomez

Anthony and Michelle lived with a reproduction of The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz for one month.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month? Home Stories is our quest to find out…

Partners Michelle Gomez and Anthony Summers live at the intersection of two neighborhoods in North Baltimore, and it seems their lives are, at least in part, shaped by intersections. Michelle is an independent curator and arts organizer and Anthony is an art-lover working in finance. Their home is filled with beautiful objects they have made and collected alongside tomes on economics and books on cultural theory and art history. Their responses to The Steerage were very different, yet complementary, emerging from the intersections of art, finance, migrant experience, and activism.

When you visit Imagining Home at the BMA you’ll have the opportunity to watch a video of Michelle and Anthony with The Steerage alongside two households that also lived with it.

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal "291" (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915. Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal “291” (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915.
Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm., Image: 333 x 264 mm. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home.

A Short History of Epic Pillow Forts

Since the dawn of time, humans have been rearranging their stuff. Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Great Pyramids, can all be seen as the results of people deciding to move their things around. As soon as couch cushions, chairs, and blankets were available, someone was probably combining these pieces in ways that they were never intended to be combined. People (of all ages) use furniture and fabric to make forts within their homes for a lot of reasons, but most of these boil down to a need find some temporary refuge from everyday life. If the home is a shelter, then the pillow fort is a shelter within the shelter, an interior within the interior. The pillow fort is defensible space, but it is not made of hard warlike materials. Instead it is soft, the comfortable, inviting ordinary stuff of the home is rearranged into new configurations to make new kinds of space. The pillow fort has a whimsical legibility, it reads as both the castle and the couch at the same time, and it invites us to engage with it, to use it, and to remake it. This making and remaking is extra fun with company. Just like in full size home-building (or Stonehenge building), the creation of the pillow fort needs extra hands present, if only to balance the couch cushions while the blanket is draped over the top.

A sketch of the BMA's pillow fort activity

A sketch of the BMA’s pillow fort activity

The pillow fort uses many of the same construction methods present in domestic architectural history. First a site must be chosen and prepared. Low heavy space can be made by stacking things, and higher, lighter space is defined by adaptable frames. Modular textiles can wrap around all of this and create enclosure, with openings back to the outside world. No pillow fort, or house, is complete without something like a hearth. People need light, entertainment, and the social space that’s created around an active center like a fireplace, ipad, or flashlight…

For The Baltimore Museum of Art’s first Art After Hours event, come join us in the collaborative construction of a giant pillow fort in the Museum’s East Lobby. The event will include live music, local food and beer, and other activities in conjunction with the Imagining Home exhibition. Baltimore is our home, and the BMA invites you to come and make yourself at home here for the evening. We’ll make a temporary home within the lobby, come participate in person, and follow along with the hashtag #BMApillowfort on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The pillow fort will be up over the weekend, but we hope you’ll be comfortable and cozy enough to come back anytime!

– Fred Scharmen and Marian April Glebes

Postcards from Imagining Home

My home begins anywhere I can run fast and without fear of capture. My home is a bag on my back and a bike under my legs. The world jostles for my attention and I move move move. My home is my body.

My home begins anywhere I can run fast and without fear of capture. My home is a bag on my back and a bike under my legs. The world jostles for my attention and I move move move. My home is my body.

I used to think my roles only consisted of things like retrieving the chicken's eggs. But now I understand it goes far beyond that. I know my roles include loving my gay brother and making things right with my dad.

I used to think my roles only consisted of things like retrieving the chicken’s eggs. But now I understand it goes far beyond that. I know my roles include loving my gay brother and making things right with my dad.

It is in a country and a city where you are free to walk outside your home and go where you will, say what you want, think or write what you want without fear that your door will be battered down by oppressors. At home, you have enough to eat and you are safe.

It is in a country and a city where you are free to walk outside your home and go where you will, say what you want, think or write what you want without fear that your door will be battered down by oppressors. At home, you have enough to eat and you are safe.

Your home is inside of you. You take it everywhere and no one can take it away from you. It is what you believe, love, stand for.

Your home is inside of you. You take it everywhere and no one can take it away from you. It is what you believe, love, stand for.

As the oldest child in a Korean-American home, I play the role of the dependable "son" my parents never had. Clearly a daughter and oldest sister, I also play the role as my sister's 2nd mother due to her being 7 years younger than me. Those are my roles.

As the oldest child in a Korean-American home, I play the role of the dependable “son” my parents never had. Clearly a daughter and oldest sister, I also play the role as my sister’s 2nd mother due to her being 7 years younger than me. Those are my roles.

Somewhere to rest my bones with the ones I love.

Somewhere to rest my bones with the ones I love.

These postcards were submitted as part of an activity in the BMA’s Imagining Home exhibition. Visitors are invited to write a postcard responding to questions about what home means to them, and then the postcards are mailed to other BMA visitors. Anyone who would like to receive a postcard can submit their address.

Home Stories Profiles: Detwiler Household

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detwiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month? Home Stories is our quest to find out…

Dan Detwiler and his son Drew come to the BMA’s Free Family Sundays events regularly. Drew is an avid artist, and their home is filled with his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He recently made a series of drawings of great buildings from around the world, such as the Leaning Tower of Piza and the Eiffel Tower, which he complemented with a futuristic imaginary city built of Legos that includes two towering restaurants, a city hall, an art museum (of course), and more.

Dan and Drew got the shower curtain for their Home Stories artwork because they were one of the most adventurous families to participate in this project. It’s no easy thing to live with a huge artwork in your most private room, least of all one that addresses you each time you read it.

Here we have a special treat: an extended video of Dan and Drew talking about their experiences living with this incredible shower curtain.

When you visit Imagining Home at the BMA you’ll have the opportunity to watch a video of Dan and Drew with Issue 16 of Thing Quarterly alongside another household that also lived with it.

You can also listen to three participants in the Home Stories project, including Dan, read the text on the shower curtain:

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home.

An eye for detail: Walking through Imagining Home with Associate Curator Oliver Shell

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal "291" (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915. Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. (13 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal “291” (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915.
Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. (13 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Images contain details that can be enlightening or senseless, or whose import may be lost due the passage of time.  In an exhibition like Imagining Home with so many big themes, I find myself fixated by particulars. The passengers in Alfred Stieglitz’s classic photograph The Steerage almost universally wear hats or head gear. The women wear head scarves while among the men we see workers caps, fancy bowler hats, and one very prominent straw boater. What did it mean to wear a straw boater or bowler hat while traveling in steerage in 1907? Was there any difference? The larger point may be that in this era nobody left his or her home without some form of head covering–a practice that died out somewhere in the mid-20th century. My grandmother still wore a hat when she went to town. I do not! Lost rituals of propriety create a separation between their world and ours.

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood. c. 1795-1800 Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood. c. 1795-1800. Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood (detail). c. 1795-1800 Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

The oil lamp depicted in Marguerite Gerard’s Motherhood is among the most exquisitely complex light fixtures that I have ever seen. Symbolically, this may be fitting for a work produced in the ‘age of enlightenment.’ Unfortunately, this lamp sheds little light onto the purpose of some of the other props in this room.  For instance, what are we to make of the large panel leaning against the wall, behind the mother? It depicts three rows of hand-written yet indecipherable words. My sense is that it would have been a recognizable object in its day, otherwise why include it? Perhaps it may serve some pedagogical function in the child’s upbringing—perhaps an aid to reading? The child seems too young for such instruction, and yet, it could signal a future intention to nurture and educate the child at home.

It is not purely by chance that Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photograph, Sophia’s Dairy, Harford County, Maryland, showing a double staircase in a seemingly vacant house, appears to dance as though liberated from any architectural rule. It is as though the photographer were channeling Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who’s Imaginary Prisons prints included staircases leading madly in pointless directions.

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Sophia's Dairy, Harford County, Maryland. 1936-1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase Fund. BMA 1938.37

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Sophia’s Dairy, Harford County, Maryland. 1936-1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase Fund. BMA 1938.37

A closer look reveals that Johnston has most deliberately chosen the single angle and camera elevation where the ascending stairs, at left, seem parallel to the top 4 stairs, which are in fact at a 90 degree angle to the lower 9 stairs.  This creates a seemingly uninterrupted ascent and obscures the shared landing at the level of the top of the door.  Not only does one have to turn 90 degrees to ascend further, but one has to do so twice in order to reach the second floor.  The turning motif is architecturally expressed through the rolled terminal volute of the bannister; but the true direction of the rising dark bannister is obscured (just where it turns 90 degrees for the first time) through its carefully planned visual intersection with the bottom rail of the second floor bannister.  Johnston’s game is to confuse the eye and liberate the architectural components from their structural duties with joyous irrational effect. Her play is achieved through the manipulation of details.

Imagining Home brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home. The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between Director of Interpretation and Public Engagement Gamynne Guillotte and Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Oliver Shell.

 

Home Stories at the BMA

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detweiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month?
Home Stories is the BMA’s quest to find out.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition in the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center, is an exploration of the multitude of ways that people around the world think about home. We thought it would be interesting to include a project based around art in the home because so many of the artworks in the exhibition were originally intended to be displayed in homes. Home Stories was conceived as a program in which households from across Baltimore would live with artwork reproductions for about a month, and then we would interview them about their experience.

Eleven households were selected from across the Baltimore area, with an eye towards diversity in age, race, class, neighborhood, and household composition. The participants also brought a great range in experience with art, from novice collectors and makers to experienced artists and curators. This diversity in perspectives allowed us to explore a wonderful variety of responses to the artworks.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the "Rich and Poor" Series by Jim Goldberg.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” Series by Jim Goldberg.

We hypothesized that this would be a very personal experience for the participants and that each household would have a unique experience. We also hoped that living with artwork reproductions would lead participants to think about art in a new way. Our expectations were wildly exceeded on both counts.

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” series by Jim Goldberg

The artworks selected for this project include the colorful painting A Quick Nap by Walter Williams, the detailed photograph The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, a set of four annotated photographs from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg, and Issue 16 from The Thing, which is a shower curtain with text by Dave Eggers. Each of these works presented different challenges for participants. The Williams is big, but very charming. The Stieglitz is a bit smaller with details that make you want to get up close and examine it. The Goldbergs are emotionally challenging because the annotations are very personal and often sad. The shower curtain is, well, a shower curtain—imagine a piece of art that big in the place where you bathe!

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for "The Steerage."

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for “The Steerage.”

Over the next several months, we’re going to share some our Home Stories with you here on the blog. You can also visit the BMA to see the art, and watch the Home Stories videos to discover for yourself what our participants experienced.

Making crazy quilts with artist Susie Brandt

Susie Brandt's 1970's Crazy Quilts

Susie Brandt’s 1970’s Crazy Quilt

Baltimore based artist Susie Brandt will be running a crazy quilt activity from 12pm-3pm at the BMA’s Imagining Home Opening Celebration, Sunday, October 25, 2015. Below, she explains how she fell in love with crazy quilts.

As a kid, I was completely enchanted by a crazy quilt on display at the local historical museum. Made over the course of many years by a woman working out on the front porch of her big Queen Anne house in Glens Falls, NY, it looked a lot like the quilts now on display at the BMA. I loved all the dazzling silk and velvet fabrics, and the gloriously complex feather stitching. Carefully embroidered throughout that quilt were all kinds of flowers, and fans, and spiders.

In the early 1970’s my mother and I started our own interpretation of that crazy quilt using scraps from our own home sewing projects. We made a dozen or so blocks, before we got sidetracked with other things.

Then life happened. I grew up to become an artist and carried those blocks around for decades. Last year, when my older niece was graduating high school, I dug them out and finished one quilt – using family fabrics going back three generations. I also saved some of the original blocks for a second quilt that I’ll give my younger niece when she graduates next year.

For the BMA workshop, we’ll show you how to piece your own block one patch at a time. We’ll use the decorative stitches on the sewing machine and fabrics that reflect the motifs commonly seen in crazy quilts – florals, fans, peacocks, kitties, moons and stars. Perhaps we can launch your own family project.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Center for People & Art, brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home. Discover paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, and works on paper from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, as well as four miniature rooms, plus a variety of interactive features in three thematic areas.

Susie Brandt's 1970's Crazy Quilts

Baker Artist Awards 2014 & 2015

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Today The Baltimore Museum of Art opens an exhibition of 12 artists who represent the Mary Sawyers Baker and b-grant prize winners from both 2014 and 2015.

Established in 2009 by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund and managed by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), the Baker Artist Awards recognizes the excellence of artists in the Baltimore community. Through significant monetary prizes for winners, the Baker Artist Awards serves artists of all disciplines who live and work in Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties. Area artists nominate themselves by uploading their portfolios onto the Baker Artist Awards website, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of art lovers in nearly every country around the globe. The winners are selected by a panel of jurors.

The BMA has hosted exhibitions of the winners since the inception of the Baker Artist Awards. The artworks presented this year embrace a diverse range of media that includes sculpture, photography, video, music, and mixed media installations, some of which reference the difficult issues of our time.

Each of these artists explores a facet of the world in which we live . We know artworks can evoke many reactions and we invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below about how an artwork in the exhibition changed your thoughts or feelings about contemporary life. The Museum will share these comments with the exhibition organizers—the GBCA and the Baker Foundation.

– Jay Fisher

Images, top to bottom:
Installation views of artworks by Chris Bathgate, Paul Rucker, and Brent Crothers at the BMA. Photos by Mitro Hood.