contemporary art – La Prairie SHLM http://laprairie-shlm.com/ Thu, 17 Feb 2022 15:39:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://laprairie-shlm.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/icon-2-150x150.png contemporary art – La Prairie SHLM http://laprairie-shlm.com/ 32 32 New Blanton Museum of Art exhibit showcases the talents of artist Terry Allen https://laprairie-shlm.com/new-blanton-museum-of-art-exhibit-showcases-the-talents-of-artist-terry-allen/ Sat, 01 Jan 2022 15:36:29 +0000 https://laprairie-shlm.com/new-blanton-museum-of-art-exhibit-showcases-the-talents-of-artist-terry-allen/ By Chris O’Connell in 40 acres, January | February 2022 to January 1, 2022 at 9:35 am | Terry Allen’s creative process is a mystery, even to him. In fact, he never knows where inspiration will take him. Although he created works in many disciplines, Allen was first known as one of the greatest narrative […]]]>

Terry Allen’s creative process is a mystery, even to him. In fact, he never knows where inspiration will take him. Although he created works in many disciplines, Allen was first known as one of the greatest narrative songwriters in country music, starting with the cult concept album Outlaw from 1975. Juárez. Although he continues to write and release complex country albums, the most recent being that of 2020 Just like Moby Dick—Allen’s work as a visual artist is at least equal to that of his legendary musical career.

But the former Guggenheim Fellow and several NEA Fellows with pieces in collections across the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, create art without too much regard for resulting media. He does not find inspiration and thinks to himself, it is a song, Where, it is certainly only a painting. Hell, sometimes it’s both. This is the case in many of his pieces in MemWars, an art exhibit that opened at the Blanton Museum of Art on December 18, which deals, as Allen puts it, “this battlefield of memory, I guess.”

“Wolfman of del Rio (MemWars),” for example, a mixed media work on paper created between 2018-19, shares a title with the fourth track from Allen’s 1979 double album. Lubbock (on everything). In the painting, images of a man and a wolf merge, just like the past with the present, and most importantly, Allen’s musical life becomes indistinguishable from his visual art. Basically, that’s how he creates.

“They’ve always been a thing to me. Playing music or creating visual pieces, whatever your sense of curiosity or where it takes you, I’m ready for it, ”Allen says. “This thing of trying to categorize things… I really don’t care about that.”

“Wolfman” joins about 21 other drawings, “densely hung,” at the request of Allen of Blanton’s deputy director of curatorial affairs, Carter E. Foster, on one side of a long black curtain in the contemporary gallery at the museum floor. Opposite is a multi-screen video installation, with Allen on one side and his wife, artist and writer Jo Harvey Allen on the other. They alternately tell stories about the songs’ possible origins, after which the two faces disappear and Allen appears on a third screen, performing with his back to the audience as he and his piano roar down a long, flat highway for over an hour. . Video isn’t necessarily connected to other visual pieces, Allen says, but similar themes emerge when the exhibit is viewed holistically.

“It’s always a mystery where a song comes from, even at the most obvious, it’s always a mystery that it becomes a song to me,” Allen says. “This song kind of deals with that idea.”

Allen met Foster through a mutual friend, museum director Kippy Stroud, who hosted an annual residency in Maine for artists, writers and curators each year. About 10 years ago the two were in Maine and Foster saw Allen’s works during a residency presentation. Foster says he “seemed crazy not to” organize a contemporary art exhibition for Terry Allen at the Blanton when another colleague suggested it. Prior to that, however, in 2015, Stroud passed away suddenly during one of the residences. In thanks to Stroud who brought Allen and Foster together, MemWars includes a song called “Song For Kippy”.

“She had an everlasting influence on everyone she came in contact with, and I’m not sure if she really knew the impact she was having on people,” Allen said. “But then, for me, that was a real anchor in this show.”

Much of the exhibition touches on people like Stroud, whose experiences left a deep mark on Allen. One of them talks about his cousin’s failed attempt to perform a second act as a professional archer following a dishonorable discharge during his fourth tour of Vietnam. “The war basically killed him, but it took about 40 years to do it,” Allen says.

Another, “Roadrunner”, tells of a high school friend who was killed in early Vietnam. A high school track and field champion, he had roadrunners tattooed on his calves and when he died in action he was identified by these markings. Allen’s astute listeners might recognize the name “Blue Asian Reds (for Roadrunner),” a 1979 song written from the perspective of his friend’s grieving girlfriend.

“He was the first person to make war a reality for me,” Allen says. “I was in art school in California and got a call saying it blew up in Vietnam. And it was just inconceivable to me if this human that I knew and who was a friend of mine was there. There are songs in the series that address that.

Allen says that while these plays deal with the battlefield of his memory – and often real settings of war – his work was not born out of a cathartic triumph over emotion.

“It’s more of a cold-blooded thing to do something,” he said. “You just do that thing and then you step back and maybe try to come to terms with it and figure out what it is. But it’s really about the thing. It’s not about you; it’s about you; it’s about what you do.

MemWars runs until July 10, 2022, at the Blanton Museum of Art.

CREDITS: © Terry Allen, Courtesy of LA. Louver, Venice, California


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The art of the Ulster Museum at the heart of the autumn / winter program https://laprairie-shlm.com/the-art-of-the-ulster-museum-at-the-heart-of-the-autumn-winter-program/ Fri, 03 Dec 2021 08:00:00 +0000 https://laprairie-shlm.com/the-art-of-the-ulster-museum-at-the-heart-of-the-autumn-winter-program/ NI National Museums has announced an exciting art program for fall and winter. The diverse range of exhibitions showcase local and international artists and explore deep and provocative themes such as identity, loss, isolation and love. Art serves an important purpose, reminding us that we share a universal human experience, evoking deep emotions and allowing […]]]>

NI National Museums has announced an exciting art program for fall and winter.

The diverse range of exhibitions showcase local and international artists and explore deep and provocative themes such as identity, loss, isolation and love.

Art serves an important purpose, reminding us that we share a universal human experience, evoking deep emotions and allowing us to make connections and feel less alone.

Exhibits include: Mysterious Irish Muse by Tissot: New Acquisitions; Silent testimony; Thought of blue sky; New art, new themes, new acquisitions; Mainie Jellett (1897-1944): Translation and rotation and; Royal Academy of Ulster 140 e Annual exhibition.

Hannah Crowdy, curator of National Museums NI, said: “Through our collections, we hope to inspire and educate new audiences, including those who don’t typically visit an art exhibit.

“Everyone is invited to come and visit our space to see first-hand just how diverse and varied the exhibitions are, perhaps allowing people to discover a new appreciation for Impressionism or contemporary art. “

Exhibition at the museum until 2 sd January 2022, the focal point of Tissot’s mysterious Irish Muse: New Acquisitions is “Quiet” by James (Jacques) Joseph Tissot. A new museum acquisition, Quiet represents Kathleen Kelly, Tissot’s mistress, muse and the inspiration for some of his most famous paintings.

Quiet is exhibited with paintings by Cotes, Lavery and Orpen, which contrast the role of societal beauties and the experience of young women who lived a more fragile existence on the outskirts of mainstream society.



The museum also exhibits Silent Testimony, which is returning as part of National Museums NI’s 100 Years Forward program, marking the centenary of the partition and creation of Northern Ireland. The exhibition, which will run until January 2022, features large-scale portraits of internationally renowned artist Colin Davidson.

Each portrait powerfully portrays the personal experiences of the eighteen people who suffered loss during the unrest.

Colin Davidson said, “The silent testimony reveals the individual and collective suffering of these eighteen people in a way words cannot. All ostensibly have different identities but are linked by a unique and shared experience of loss. When creating the portraits I wanted to convey each one first as a human being who had suffered as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland and silently articulate that experience.

“The shared trauma of these eighteen people remains a powerful reminder of our common humanity. “

French photographer Bernard Lesaing first came to Northern Ireland in 1975 and 1976, taking moving and insightful images of the country at the height of the conflict. He returned more than 40 years later to a very different political landscape. He again based his work on the people he met and their stories, capturing not only striking images but also collecting 21 personal testimonies. This fascinating look at Northern Ireland’s journey, through conflict to more peaceful times, is explored in the Faces and Places exhibition.

Thought of blue sky; New Art, New Themes, New Acquisitions is an exhibition that presents Blue Sky Thinking, 2019 by Patrick Goddard, a piece depicting 180 ring-necked parakeets created from recycled lead.

Acquired by National Museums NI 2020, with help from a grant from the Art Fund, the play addresses themes of migration, identity and the climate emergency, deliberately drawing on current discourse on human migration and border control, as well as the artist’s ecological concerns.

Blue Sky Thinking is on display with works from the Museum of Ulster’s internationally significant sculpture collection, including Birdman by Elisabeth Frink, HOME by Willie Doherty and Silent Echoes, a sound sculpture by Bill Fontana.

Another artist on display is Mainie Jellet – she has been seen as the driving force that brought abstract art to Ireland and the exhibition explores her journey to this point and beyond, celebrating its impact and the placement of women. at the center of Irish modernism. Mainie Jellett (1897-1944): Translation and Rotation will be on display from October 29 to May 2022.

Jellet’s process is revealed throughout the exhibition, with highly regarded works included, alongside paintings and drawings on public display for the first time, showcasing the richness and richness of his short but prolific career and sharing the “Three revolutions” of his artistic practice.

The highly anticipated 140th Annual Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition runs from 29 October to 9 January 2022 and is a highlight of Belfast’s calendar of events.

Founded in 1879, the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (RUA) is the largest and oldest organization of practicing visual artists in Northern Ireland. Its annual exhibition is a unique platform for renowned artists and emerging talent to showcase their works at the Ulster Museum.

Now in his 140 e year, the exhibition includes around 250 examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and video. Some works explore topical themes such as isolation, social distancing and survival in these strange times. Others share deep messages with hope, humor, passion and integrity.

Hannah Crowdy said: “The RUA exhibit is always a highlight for visitors, showcasing an incredibly diverse range of art and content. We are delighted to welcome the exhibition again, now in its 140 e year, and offer our space to local artists, known and less known, to give their talent a platform and an audience.

“We hope that visitors will enjoy all of the Ulster Museum exhibits over the coming months and that our fall / winter art exhibition program will leave them inspired, with a new appreciation for the power that art has to offer. arouse emotion and conversation. “

Entrance to the Ulster Museum is free.

Advance reservations are recommended for all exhibitions at the Ulster Museum. Tickets can be booked at www.nmni.com

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Matthew Rolston at the Laguna Art Museum – Art and Cake https://laprairie-shlm.com/matthew-rolston-at-the-laguna-art-museum-art-and-cake/ Tue, 24 Aug 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://laprairie-shlm.com/matthew-rolston-at-the-laguna-art-museum-art-and-cake/ Matthew Rolston, Barye, Roger and Angelica (Roger), 2016 (Courtesy of Fahey / Klein, Los Angeles). Matthew Rolston, Art People: The Pageant Portraits Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach until September 19, 2021 Written by Liz Goldner If art is a metaphor for life, this photographic exhibition is an exploration of the creative energy of humanity, as […]]]>
Matthew Rolston, Barye, Roger and Angelica (Roger), 2016 (Courtesy of Fahey / Klein, Los Angeles).

Matthew Rolston, Art People: The Pageant Portraits

Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach

until September 19, 2021

Written by Liz Goldner

If art is a metaphor for life, this photographic exhibition is an exploration of the creative energy of humanity, as well as the search for meaning and identity. Or as Nigel Spivey, a classic scholar, explains in this exhibit’s catalog, “’Art People’ makes a statement about our identity as human beings: how we define ourselves as creative creatures and as people. ‘individuals whose individuality is part of this creativity. Powerful.”

Inspired by this truism, “Matthew Rolston, Art People: The Pageant Portraits” takes a multi-faceted approach to photography – with his portraits of people, made up and dressed to resemble characters in paintings and sculptures; they are actually characters from Laguna Beach’s theatrical event, Pageant of the Masters, which features the centuries-old art form known as ‘living images’.

The 1932 outdoor pageant, shown for eight weeks each summer, features volunteer cast members wearing detailed makeup and costumes, posing in elaborate painted settings with creative lighting. The resulting tableaux vivants or “living images” depict works of art over the centuries, from those of old masters to contemporary artists.

While living images are appropriate for actual works of art, some of that art is based on photos, as with David Hockney’s painting, “American Collectors,” or on created scenes populated by actual people who pass themselves off as historical figures. An example of a painting that would have been constructed from a posed scene is “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. This historic painting was the last living tableau in the historical reenactment for many decades.

“Art People” was created by Rolston, a visionary artist, photographer and filmmaker, who admired the Pageant of the Masters since he was a child. Building on his decades of fascination with the event, he set out five years ago to do individual portraits of the contest’s cast members, while they were not posing for the actual live footage. Malcolm Warner, former executive director of the Laguna Art Museum, explains this process in the catalog: “By isolating his subjects and presenting them in such high definition that the brush and painted patinas reveal themselves as the makeup that they are, Rolston brings the eerie and melancholy poetry of real people posing as painted and sculpted people.

The resulting photographic portraits explore the humanity within us, as well as the deeper vicissitudes of works of art, including the “hall of mirrors” aspects of artistic creation. Some of Rolston’s photos were then based on figures of living images from Pageant, themselves based on paintings and sculptures, themselves derived from photos or staged scenes.

His “Da Vinci, The Last Supper (Saint Philip The Curious)”, depicting the character of Saint Philip from Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, is a portrait of a pageant actor, heavily made up, hair and dress to mimic a person of the time of Christ. Depicting a man with a somber expression, it eclipses the present, leading the viewer to a solemn scene from millennia ago.

Rolston’s “Barye, Roger and Angelica”, adorning the cover of the catalog and serving as the hallmark of the show, depicts a young woman painted entirely in gold, including her draped dress and hair, with only her piercing blue eyes revealing her. living identity. She is a human being, on the way to becoming a sculptural work, thus reversing the myth of Pygmalion.

Most of the other portraits in this exhibit are figures from classical historical paintings and sculptures. Yet Rolston’s “Hockney, American Collectors (Marcia Weisman)” is a contemporary portrayal of a Pageant actor posing as the late art collector, Marcia Weisman. Hockney’s original 1968 painting, “American Collectors,” in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, was created from a photo of Weisman and her husband Frederick Weisman posing next to their house. The Pageant model in this photo takes Weisman to a more humanistic level than that displayed in Hockney’s original painting.

Marcia Simon Weisman (1918-1991) and her husband were major art collectors in Los Angeles. Their spectacular collection of modern and contemporary art, which formed the basis of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, is open to the public by reservation only.

Rolston wrote for the “Art People” catalog, “Art is human. We are art. Indeed, this astonishing exhibition, elevating portrait photography to a deep and humanistic level, explores the connection where people transcend their limits to create great art.

Laguna Art Museum

307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, California 92651

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Norway sets opening date for its $ 723 million mega museum https://laprairie-shlm.com/norway-sets-opening-date-for-its-723-million-mega-museum/ Fri, 18 Jun 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://laprairie-shlm.com/norway-sets-opening-date-for-its-723-million-mega-museum/ The national museum of Norway, billed as the largest museum in the country, is scheduled to open on June 11, 2022. the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, as it is officially called, is a project under construction for more than 7 years. It was originally slated to be inaugurated in 2020, but the […]]]>

The national museum of Norway, billed as the largest museum in the country, is scheduled to open on June 11, 2022.

the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, as it is officially called, is a project under construction for more than 7 years. It was originally slated to be inaugurated in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted plans. Now, work has resumed and the Oslo-based museum will debut in 2022.

The mega-museum will bring together three of Norway’s largest art collections: the National Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kunstindustrimuseet. All of these 3 museums have closed in the past 5 years. From now on, their combined collection, which numbers around 5,000, will adorn the walls of the National Museum. Perhaps the most famous of its many impressive works of art is The Scream by Edward Munch – one of the world’s most iconic works of art.

Credit: Borre Hostland

The sprawling mega-museum will be built over 54,000 square meters of space. Of this total, 13,000 square meters would be devoted to exhibition space alone. This will make it the largest museum not only in Norway, but also in the entire Nordic region. The total cost of the project is estimated at $ 723 million. The museum will have two floors, 90 galleries, cafes and the largest library in the country. One of the highlights of the museum is the Hall of Lights – an exhibition space of 2,400 square meters on the roof, reserved for special shows.

While the museum still has a long way to go before it is ready for its debut, the government is eager to share the project with the public. As such, parts of the museum have been opened to the general public. The move is also expected to attract investors and sponsors.

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The history of the Berkshire Museum art sale is hitting the symposium circuit. Critics denied spot on panel | Local News https://laprairie-shlm.com/the-history-of-the-berkshire-museum-art-sale-is-hitting-the-symposium-circuit-critics-denied-spot-on-panel-local-news/ Tue, 16 Mar 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://laprairie-shlm.com/the-history-of-the-berkshire-museum-art-sale-is-hitting-the-symposium-circuit-critics-denied-spot-on-panel-local-news/ In an online symposium this week, two former Berkshire Museum leaders – Van Shields, its executive director, and Elizabeth McGraw, its board chair – are due to discuss the institution’s 2018 art sale. . EAGLE FILE PHOTO PITTSFIELD — Although Van Shields and Elizabeth McGraw are no longer at the Berkshire Museum, they will meet […]]]>






Berkshire Museum (copy)

In an online symposium this week, two former Berkshire Museum leaders – Van Shields, its executive director, and Elizabeth McGraw, its board chair – are due to discuss the institution’s 2018 art sale. .




PITTSFIELD — Although Van Shields and Elizabeth McGraw are no longer at the Berkshire Museum, they will meet this week to explain the museum’s drive to sell its most valuable works from a few years ago. People who objected to this sale may or may not be heard.

Shields and McGraw will appear Thursday as members of an online panel in a symposium titled “Deaccessioning after 2020,” sponsored by Syracuse University’s College of Law and Graduate Program in Museum Studies.

The sale of the Berkshire Museum predates the coronavirus pandemic. Saying it needed to straighten out its finances, the museum fended off legal challenges and opposition from local group Save the Art to sell famous works by Norman Rockwell, Alexander Calder and Albert Bierstadt, among others, raising 53.25 million dollars.

Almost three years later, Shields and McGraw will sit on a panel titled “Regional Museums Making Tough Decisions and Expanding Their Horizons.” It is believed to be the first time the two – Shields, the museum’s former executive director, and McGraw, its former board chair – have joined to speak publicly about the controversial sale.

When Save the Art’s Hope Davis heard about the panel, she called on its organizers to be included. The Syracuse Law School dean declined, saying the panel was not supposed to debate the merits of the sale.

“This session is not a forum for debating the right or wrong – or right or wrong – of these decisions,” Craig M. Boise, the dean, wrote in an email to Davis, denying his request. to join the panel.

Davis said in an interview that she thought the museum’s divestiture was still worth discussing. And she thinks the design of the panel, which includes the experience of a small Syracuse museum that sold an artwork in 2020, could distort the context of the Pittsfield sale.

Syracuse University symposium panelists with ties to the Berkshire Museum, left to right: Van Shields, former executive director; Elizabeth McGraw…

“They’re trying to de facto legitimize what they’ve done,” Davis said. “The Berkshire Museum remains very much in people’s minds. Although it was an outlier, it was the precursor to what we see now.

Boise could not be reached Tuesday for comment on the composition of the panel.

In two messages to Davis, Boise said an opponent of the Berkshire Museum art sale is pictured on another panel. It was Nicholas O’Donnell, the Boston attorney who represented three Lenox residents who unsuccessfully sought to block the sale.

Boise also said the symposium includes “at least two distinguished museum leaders — Michael Conforti and Tom Campbell — who are very conservative in their outlook.” Conforti is a former director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

If organizers intended to foster debate during Thursday’s panel with Shields and McGraw, Boise said a group like Save the Art would have been included, along with people critical of a sale by the other museum. represented on the same panel, the Everson Art Museum in Syracuse.

“We would certainly have reached out to those who opposed the actions of these two museums,” Boise wrote to Davis. Copies of their email correspondence were obtained by The Eagle.

In October, the Everson sold a painting by Jackson Pollock, “Red Composition, 1946,” for $12 million through auction house Christie’s. The museum said in a statement at the time that it would use proceeds to diversify its collection “to focus on works by artists of color, women artists and other underrepresented, emerging and developing artists.” mid-career”.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale, he said, will also be used to maintain his 10,000-piece collection, a use sanctioned by the American Alliance of Museums and New York State Regents. .

Van Shields, proponent of controversial art sales, bows out at Berkshire Museum

PITTSFIELD — After taking over as head of the Berkshire Museum in 2011, Van Shields surprised his new colleagues by talking about the “monetization” of the Pittsfield institution’s collection. It took six…

The Berkshire Museum sale, on the other hand, has been criticized by directors of the Association of Art Museum Directors for violating its policy on art sales.

The group ordered its 243 members not to collaborate with the Pittsfield institution. The sale also faced opposition from the executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the American Alliance of Museums. This led the Smithsonian Institution to end its affiliation with the Berkshire Museum.

The museum is spending about $3.5 million to complete repairs to its 39 South Street home, including sewer lines, waterproofing and the installation of a freight elevator and is now revamping the space On the second floor.

The panel

Thursday’s panel with Shields and McGraw is described by the symposium as a time to hear from people who “have been there and done that” and will share what contributed to their decision-making and experiences, providing important learnings. to others involved in leadership. of similar institutions.

Alongside former Berkshire Museum officials, viewers will hear from Everson’s executive director, Elizabeth Dunbar, and chairwoman of its board, Jessica Arb Danial.

The symposium describes panelists as people who worked in smaller communities and on tighter budgets than museum executives in big cities.

“One would assume that museums in places like Syracuse, New York and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, are more closely tied – and perhaps more essential – to their communities than their counterparts in major metropolitan areas,” the program says about of the panel. “Their volunteer boards are generally not people with the wherewithal to fill structural deficits or fund bold, big initiatives.”

He continues, “These museums are where ‘the rubber hits the road’ in terms of professional standards and the ability of these museums to survive and thrive in service to their communities, all within the context of their legal obligations to their institution.”

McGraw and Shields aren’t the only local names to participate.

Joseph Thompson, founding director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, will participate in a panel on Thursday titled “Museum Resource Allocation: The Cost of Collecting.”

And two people who spent long hours on the Berkshire Museum’s disputed sale – from different perspectives – will sit on the same panel. A session titled “Legal Issues, Strategies, and the Role of the Courts” includes Courtney Aladro of the State Attorney General’s Office, who worked in 2017 and 2018 to ensure the Pittsfield Museum complied with the law.

On that same program will feature the man who initially informed Attorney General Maura Healey’s office of the museum’s proposed art sale: Mark Gold, of the Pittsfield law firm Smith Green & Gold LLP. They will be joined on the four-member panel by O’Donnell, the Boston attorney who filed the lawsuit against the sale.

Gold will also host a Friday morning panel on the ethics of museum art sales. Its title refers to “direct care,” a term used to describe the proper use of sales proceeds. The panel is entitled “Direct care: a critical concept still in search of meaning”. And Gold and O’Donnell will sit on an “Ask the Lawyers” panel on Friday.

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What a party »Brooklyn Museum art exhibition curated by Eugenie Tsai – WWD https://laprairie-shlm.com/what-a-party-brooklyn-museum-art-exhibition-curated-by-eugenie-tsai-wwd/ Fri, 26 Feb 2021 08:00:00 +0000 https://laprairie-shlm.com/what-a-party-brooklyn-museum-art-exhibition-curated-by-eugenie-tsai-wwd/ For curator Eugénie Tsai, the installation of “Kaws: What Party” has sometimes been a visceral experience. She recently watched riggers lower the gargantuan head of a colorful Kaws sculpture to her body within the Brooklyn Museum, and felt empathetic for the downcast X-eyed character. “They had wrapped the straps around the ears and they were […]]]>

For curator Eugénie Tsai, the installation of “Kaws: What Party” has sometimes been a visceral experience. She recently watched riggers lower the gargantuan head of a colorful Kaws sculpture to her body within the Brooklyn Museum, and felt empathetic for the downcast X-eyed character.

“They had wrapped the straps around the ears and they were pulling them down, and I just felt my own ears hurt,” Tsai said the week before the show opened. “It’s a sculpture. It is not a living being. But you can’t help but identify with the characters.

Kaws’ companion figures – riffs on iconic characters like Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man and Elmo – have become a defining aspect of his practice, implemented in larger-than-life sculptures, collectible vinyl figures and plush dolls. In 2015, the Brooklyn Museum acquired the artist’s sculpture “Along the Way,” consisting of two wooden figures, each lowered with a Disney-gloved hand around the other’s back in support.

This sculpture is installed in the hall of the museum. Tsai recalls the reaction of three recent young visitors, who ran between the legs of the sculpture, laughing – playing. “And then one of the girls just stood in front of the sculpture and said, ‘I’m scared,'” says Tsai, who joined the museum in 2007 as curator of contemporary art John and Barbara Vogelstein. “And I wanted to go over to her and say, ‘Don’t be afraid. They are gentle giants. And it’s just amazing to me – how we see them as surrogate humans, as surrogates for us. “

This often unsettling emotional dichotomy – between childish and playful images and vivid colors paired with sad expressions and X’s for the eyes – is on full display at the museum, which has investigated the Brooklyn-based artist’s career in his native neighborhood. After the museum acquired sculptures in 2015, they began chatting with Kaws – aka Brian Donnelly – about preparing for an exhibition that addresses all aspects of his career.

The exhibition is organized chronologically, starting with the first graffiti sketches in his notebooks – some of which are being shown in the United States for the first time – and the advertising posters that he began to embellish on the streets in the 90s when he was a student at SVA. Also on display are his character-oriented paintings, large-scale sculptures, vinyl figurines and plush dolls, as well as collaborations with other artists, such as the Campana brothers and fashion brands from Dior to Uniqlo. . The exhibition culminates with the present; Donnelly created a series of paintings and new sculptures specifically for the show.

View of the installation of “Kaws: What a Party” at the Brooklyn Museum.
Courtesy of Matteo Prandoni / BFA.com

KAWS (American, born 1974).  Inner Propagation from SANS TITRE (Blackbook), circa 1993. Photograph, ink on paper, 12 1/2 × 8 in.  (31.8 × 20.3 cm).  © KAWS.  (Photo: Brad Bridgers Photography)

KAWS (American, born 1974). Interior of “Untitled” (Blackbook), circa 1993. Photograph, ink on paper, 12 1/2 × 8 in. (31.8 × 20.3 cm). © Kaws
Photo: Brad Bridgers Photography

KAWS (American, born 1974).  QUELLE FÊTE, 2020. Bronze, painting, 90 × 43 5/16 × 35 3/8 in.  (228.6 × 110 × 89.9 cm).  © KAWS.

Kaws (American, born 1974). “Quelle fête”, 2020. Bronze, painting, 90 × 43 5/16 × 35 3/8 in. (228.6 × 110 × 89.9 cm). © Kaws
Photo: Michael Biondo

Tsai was surprised at the difference in reading his work in person compared to images of the work on a screen. She was particularly struck by the finish of the show’s signature artwork, a bright pink sculpture with the physique of a Michelin man. Although the material reads like plastic, it is actually painted bronze. “I now understand his meticulous craftsmanship – which I knew he appreciated, but seeing him in person was right – I mean, it was a little mind-blowing,” she says.

Kaws is a bit of a divisive artist, at least in the art world; he’s someone who has gained enormous popularity outside of the art establishment and has branched out into product design. His work is collected by bold names like Swizz Beatz, and in recent years he has sizzled in the auction market – in 2019, one of his paintings on The Simpsons (“The Kaws Album”) sold for over $ 14 million.

Tsai hopes the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit will provide visitors with a new context for viewing the artist’s work and discovering less flashy aspects of his practice.

“Sometimes people pay more attention to the marketplace, to the device around Brian’s work, and that kind of blinds them to the fact that he’s an artist who does these amazing works,” she says, adding that putting his early graffiti in conversation with his recent ones allows viewers to see how ideas explored by Donnelly early in his career have evolved into different mediums. “How his origins as a graffiti artist, someone who worked in the streets, in the public domain, shaped the rest of his career,” Tsai explains.

Donnelly’s giant inflatable “Companion” sculptures, which he installed in Victoria Harbor and Virginia Beach in Hong Kong, are linked to his early days as a street artist: the sculptures are large-scale, temporary and in outdoor urban spaces. “They really change our perception of a setting, of an environment,” Tsai explains of the inflatables, which the museum couldn’t include in the exhibit due to the size and regulations on the. helium. “He is a remarkable painter, but painting and his studio practice is only part of a much larger career.”

“Kaws: What a Party” culminates in the museum’s 40-foot rotunda, which Tsai says is the best setting for visitors to explore the augmented reality aspect of the exhibit. In collaboration with the digital art platform Acute Arm, visitors will be able to interact with Kaws’ sculptures via their smartphones.

Like the museum’s initial sculpture acquisition, “Kaws: What a Party” is already proving popular; weekend dates for the paid show are full until the end of March. But there is a lot of time to get by; the exhibition will be visible until September.

“Maybe you are a huge fan, or maybe you are only familiar with some of his practice,” Tsai explains. “What I hope everyone will take away from the exhibition is an overall idea of ​​the extent of [Donnelly’s] practice.”

Installation view of "Kaws: what a party" at the Brooklyn Museum.

View of the installation of “Kaws: What a Party” at the Brooklyn Museum.
Courtesy of Matteo Prandoni / BFA.com

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