Category Archives: Exhibitions

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.

 

 

Timelapse video shows Tomás Saraceno’s Entangled Orbits

Watch as the brilliant colors in “Tomás Saraceno: Entangled Orbits” transform our East Lobby throughout the day in this time-lapse video captured by Mitro Hood. These iridescent-paneled modules suspended by a net of strings reminiscent of a spider web will be on view at the BMA through July 8, 2018.

Have you seen Entangled Orbits yet?

Explore the beauty of birds in Beyond Flight: Birds in African Art

Need an art break? Take a quick tour of the new exhibition, Beyond Flight: Birds in African Art with Associate Curator of African Art Kevin Tervala.

Watch Below:

Beyond Flight presents approximately 20 works from sub-Saharan artists who drew inspiration from the birds that occupied their world. This exhibition explores the varied roles of birds across 19th and 20th-century African states, societies, and cultures. From the largest ostrich to the smallest warbler, the works on view highlight the symbolic meaning and aesthetic appreciation of birds in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Uganda.

Which work is your favorite?

Beyond Flight: Birds in African Art is on view at the BMA through June 17, 2018.

Los Tres Grandes on view in Crossing Borders: Mexican Modernist Prints

A new exhibition opened this fall at The Baltimore Museum of Art, highlighting our rarely shown collection of prints and drawings by renowned Mexican artists from the 1930s to the 1940s.

Crossing Borders: Mexican Modernist Prints features 30 works on paper by artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, known as “Los Tres Grandes,” or the Three Great Ones, as well as images by Elizabeth Catlett. The works on view document the political, social, and cultural shifts that took place in the years following the Mexican Revolution.

Take a quick tour of the exhibition in this short clip with Senior Curator Rena Hoisington:

Crossing Borders: Mexican Modernist Prints is on view through March 11, 2018.

WATCH: Njideka Akunyili Crosby discusses new exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art

Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby invited art enthusiasts inside her creative process the same day her new exhibition, Front Room: Njideka Akunyili Crosby | Counterparts, opened at The Baltimore Museum of Art.

On the heels of being named a 2017 MacArthur Award winner, Crosby sat down with BMA Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Kristen Hileman at The Maryland Institute College of Art to discuss culture, technique, and the beauty of breaking the rules.

WATCH BELOW:

Front Room: Njideka Akunyili Crosby | Counterparts is on view through March 18, 2018. 

[Photo: Mitro Hood]

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.

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.