Georg Jensen Silversmiths
Through April 1, 2007
Sponsor: This exhibition is sponsored by Collab, a collaboration of design professionals supporting the modern and contemporary design collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Acclaimed Danish silversmith Georg Jensen (1866-1935) and the renowned group of designers who helped establish the company he founded as one of the world’s most important silverwares firms are the subject of this exhibition. It features some 40 examples of Georg Jensen Inc.’s innovative flatware and holloware, including design drawings for many of the objects. In addition to examples of Jensen’s designs, objects by many of the artists whose work has helped define the Georg Jensen style over the years are also on view, including Johan Rohde, Harald Nielsen, Sigvard Bernadotte, Soren Georg Jensen, Henning Koppel, Magnus Stephensen, and Verner Panton
Curator: Kathryn Hiesinger, Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700
Location: Contemporary Design Gallery (170), first floor
Contemporary Art on Paper
Through April 22, 2007
Curator: Innis Shoemaker, The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Contemporary artists employ a dazzling array of techniques and technologies to engage with and expand upon the centuries-old tradition of creating art on paper. This exhibition features a diverse selection of prints, drawings, and photographs created by artists from around the world, dating from the mid-1980s to the present. It includes works that stretch existing boundaries of technique, composition, or imagery, and demonstrate the dynamic nature of artistic endeavor in the field, as well as the breadth of the Museum’s recent collecting in this area. Many of these pieces have been seen in recent years only by visitors to the department’s study room, and several have not been shown in the galleries before.
Location: Berman and Stieglitz Galleries, ground floor
Crouching Spider by Louise Bourgeois
Through April 30, 2007
Sponsor: This project has been funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Crouching Spider, a gigantic sculpture of bronze and stainless steel made up of a globular body and long, attenuated legs, is part of a celebrated series of spider sculptures that Louise Bourgeois produced beginning in the early 1990s. According to the artist herself, the spider is a reference to Bourgeois’s mother, who was a weaver and someone she described as being industrious and protecting. The artist also chose the spider for its role as a defender against other, more pernicious insects such as mosquitoes, which can carry deadly diseases.
Born in France in 1911, Bourgeois moved to New York in 1938 to pursue a career as an artist. Her sculpture and installations are marked by her singular use of not only bronze and marble, but also latex, wax, plaster, cement, and plastics. She is known for her biomorphic forms that frequently carry strong sexual implications. Her work, despite its pervasive autobiographical content, has universal appeal. An extraordinary work that is both threatening and playful, Crouching Spider reveals why Bourgeois is among the most provocative artists working today.
Curators: Carlos Basualdo, Curator of Contemporary Art and Alice Beamesderfer, Associate Director for Collections and Project Support
Location: East Terrace
Thomas Chimes: Adventures in 'Pataphysics
Through May 6, 2007
Curator: Michael Taylor, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art
This comprehensive, 50-year retrospective devoted to the art of Thomas Chimes presents approximately 100 paintings, metal box constructions, and works on paper created between 1959 and 2006, including many never previously exhibited. The first full-scale review of Chimes’s career since 1986, this exhibition will provide a fresh look at the life and work of this highly original artist.
Location: Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor
Conserving a Tibetan Altar
Through May 27, 2007
In 2004, the Museum acquired a spectacular Tibetan altar adorned with intricately carved niches and lively paintings that highlight domestic themes; however, many layers of smoke and oils obscured the brilliant colors of the altar’s paintings—a result of countless burnt offerings of incense and butter-lamps. This exhibition displays—for the first time—the Museum’s newly cleaned altar and discusses both the conservation of the altar as well as its cultural context. X-rays and samples of paint-layers reveal hidden mysteries of the altar’s construction and decoration, while elaborate ritual objects, such as incense burners, libation ewers and butter-lamps, illuminate the ritual beauty of Tibetan devotional art.
Sponsors: Funds to conserve the altar generously provided by the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Curators: Katherine Anne Paul, Associate Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art; Anne Kingery, Kress Fellow in Objects Conservation; and Beth Price, Senior Scientist for Conservation
Location: Gallery 232, second floor
Notations: Out of Words
Through June 24, 2007
Gathering works in which words are conceived as both communication tools and visual and physical entities in themselves, Out of Words primarily highlights pieces from the permanent collection, including a recent acquisition, Georges Adéagbo’s Abraham - L'ami de Dieu (Abraham - Friend of God). This installation, the title of which is a partial quotation from Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Men Made Out of Words,” presents conceptual works, pieces in which visual and verbal signs are organized around a narrative, and works in which words signify through their linguistic meaning as well as their pictorial and material nature. From large cursive pink neon and thickly stenciled black paint to more intimately scaled printed texts and handwritten notes, the range of media in these pieces from the 1960s to the present points out the importance of the use of texts in contemporary art. Combining words and images in inventive ways, many of the works on view also call attention to language as a source of power and challenge audiences to renegotiate conventional divisions between the visual and the verbal.
Sponsors: This project was realized with the generous support of Dennis and Gisela Alter and Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz.
Curator: Carlos Basualdo, Curator of Contemporary Art
Location: Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery 176 and 178, first floor
Fantastic and Functional Animals in Indian Art
Through June 30, 2007
From ants to owls and cranes to crocodiles, animals populate India’s art. Rather than merely being part of the landscape, they almost always play specific roles, whether as characters in a story, symbols, or poetic metaphors. Each Hindu god and goddess has his or her animal vahana (vehicle) that underscores some important aspect of the deity. The martial goddess Durga rides a powerful lion; the ardent-ascetic Shiva a virile bull; and Indra, king of the heavens, a storm-cloud elephant. At times the gods themselves take on animal form, as when Vishnu becomes a tortoise to help create the earth.
Curator: Darielle Mason, The Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art
Location: The William P. Wood Gallery 227, second floor
Celebrate Korea: A Decade of Collecting
Through Summer 2007
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has undergone a period of impressive growth and activity in its Korean art collection in recent years. With the support of the Korean Heritage Group, established in 1997, the collection has doubled in size and now numbers nearly 300 works in various mediums. To celebrate the expansion of the Korean art program and the 10th anniversary of the Korean Heritage Weekend, the Museum will present this exhibition of approximately 50 works. Among them are screen paintings, hanging scrolls, furniture, and ceramics, mostly acquired since 1997. It will be accompanied by a bilingual (English and Korean) brochure chronicling the history of the Museum’s Korean Heritage Group and highlighting recently acquired works.
Curator: Hyunsoo Woo, Associate Curator of Korean Art
Location: Gallery 237 and Baldeck Gallery (238), second floor
Japanese Literati Culture in the Edo Period
Through Summer 2007
In the 17th century, in response to the ideas of self-expression traveling from China, the Japanese created their own highly sophisticated version of the Chinese literati culture. This exhibition explores the works of art that flourished as a result, both collaborative works and unique objects created by individual artists.
One important avenue for the importation of works from the continent was the Chinese Zen priests, particularly those belonging to the Ōbaku temple Mampuku-ji. A rare handscroll of calligraphies by 15 early leaders of the sect, established in 1661 near Kyoto, Japan, is on view. Collaborative works became a hallmark of Japanese literati culture, whether in the form of handscrolls, albums, or sets of fans. Images of poetic gatherings became popular as well, reflecting both Chinese culture and Japanese poetry.
The literati culture also acknowledged and encouraged individuality, and even eccentricity, in artists. The free and open atmosphere of 18th-century Japan set the stage for a period of creative experimentation and the flourishing of literature and art by a remarkable group of talented men and women. Two of them, Ike Taiga (1723–1776) and Tokuyama Gyokuran (1727–1784) are the subjects of a special forthcoming exhibition, Ike Taiga and Tokuyama Gyokuran: Japanese Masters of the Brush.
Curator: Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art
Location: Galleries 241, 242, and 243, second floor
Pop Art and Its Affinities
Through September 30, 2007
Highlighting works from the 1960s and early '70s, this exhibition captures a pivotal moment in the history of American art. An international movement that originated in London and New York, Pop Art, or what artist James Rosenquist called “the world of supermarket junk and plenty,” began as a response to the explosion of mass culture in the 1960s. In its creation, artists appropriated imagery from billboards, newspapers, films, comic books, and other media, and used commercial materials and techniques such as silkscreening, often enlarging images to colossal proportions.
Featured in this exhibition, Pop artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg, and predecessors such as Robert Rauschenberg, transgressed the assumed boundary between fine art and graphic design, raising provocative questions about the nature of creativity and originality in an age of mechanical reproduction. Also included in this examination of Pop Art are paintings by Op Artists such as Edna Andrade, Richard Anuszkiewicz, and Josef Albers, who were among the first artists to base their work entirely upon optical impressions examined in the science of perceptual psychology.
Curators: Michael R. Taylor, The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art and Emily Hage, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow of Modern and Contemporary Art
Location: American Art Gallery 119, first floor
The Bizarre and the Beautiful: Silks of the Eighteenth Century
Through Summer 2007
Opulent and exuberent, this focused exhibition explores silk—indisputably fashion’s favored fabric in the eighteenth century. With thirteen objects from the Museum’s collection, it includes French and English patterned silk dresses worn by some of Philadelphia’s most fashionable women of the time.
Curator: Dilys Blum, Curator of Costume and Textiles
Location: Costume and Textiles Gallery 271, second floor
Celebrating American Craft: 30 Years of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
Through September 30, 2007
Featuring 33 masterworks from the Museum’s craft collection, the exhibition commemorates a milestone anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Since its debut in 1977, the event has become one of the most highly anticipated art events of the season. The outstanding objects on view demonstrate the vitality of local craft movements and celebrate the important role of the Craft Show, organized annually by the Women’s Committee. Every year a percentage of the Craft Show’s profits are designated for acquisitions of contemporary crafts at the Museum.
Curator: David Barquist, Curator of American Decorative Arts
Location: North Auditorium Gallery, ground floor
Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Permanent Collection
In the 18th century, Chinese emperors and other elites began collecting snuff bottles, which they valued both as precious objects and as containers for powdered tobacco (snuff). They first used cylindrical medicine bottles to hold this new "medicine" and then experimented with new bottle shapes and added stoppers with ivory spoons attached. The Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1736 to 1795) was particularly fond of these miniature containers, favoring the carved glass bottles made in the Imperial Glassworks that his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor, had established in 1696. With the encouragement of the Qianlong ruler, production reached new aesthetic and technological heights, and their popularity continued through the late 19th century.
The bottle shown here exemplifies the glass overlay wares made at the Imperial Glassworks during the early 18th century. It was probably intended as a gift for an official: the high-relief carving of herons in a lotus pond symbolizes purity and the incorruptible statesmen. The 137 snuff bottles on view in gallery 236 encompass many decorative designs, including floral, figural, and landscape motifs, auspicious symbols, and poetry. Made from glass, porcelain, gourds, seeds, semiprecious stones and hard stones, these bottles represent the versatility and expertise of the artisans who produced them and show the richness of the Museum's holdings.
Curators: Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art, Dr. Maris Gillette, Research Associate
Location: Gallery 236, second floor
The period from the closing decades of the 17th century until the years shortly after the Act of Union of 1800, which merged Ireland into the single kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, was the great age of Irish domestic silver. At that time, Dublin, the second largest city in the British Empire, was the political, economic, and social center of Ireland. The Protestant gentry who came to prominence under the reign of William III (1689-1702) entertained lavishly, and like their English counterparts they sought to accumulate possessions, including silver that demonstrated their wealth and status.
Due to the obvious political and geographical connections in this period, Irish silver relied heavily on English styles; however, Irish silversmiths originated a number of their own forms and types of decoration. Two-handled cups, which by this period were reserved for ceremonial occasions, were a favorite among Irish silversmiths, and the installation includes a number of monumental examples of this form. One gilded example features handles in the shape of harps, a common symbol of the Irish nation.
Curator: Donna Corbin, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts
Location: Gallery 281, second floor
This exhibition features a selection of fifty highlights from the McNeil Collection of American Presidential China, a gift of more than 450 wares that is the finest such collection outside the White House. This marks its first time on public view in twenty-five years.
Particularly strong in china from the early Presidential administrations, the collection provides a material record of the social and cultural history of the United States from its beginnings as a nation. Featuring objects designed for and used by Presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, the McNeil collection offers a unique glimpse at the evolution of the taste, style, and aspirations of American tablewares.
Curator: David Barquist, Curator of American Decorative Arts
Location: American Art Gallery 106, first floor
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