2228 - 20170409 - U.S.A. - CAMBRIDGE - MASSACHUSETTS - Harvard Art Museums presents exhibition examining the materiality of recent sculpture by Doris Salcedo - 04.11.2016-09.04.2017

Doris Salcedo, Untitled, 2008. Wooden table, wooden armoires, concrete, and steel. Private collection. © Doris Salcedo. Photo: Sergio Clavijo; courtesy of the artist and Alexander and Bonin, New York, and White Cube, London
The Harvard Art Museums present Doris Salcedo: The Materiality of Mourning, a new special exhibition featuring recent works by Salcedo, an internationally acclaimed artist whose sculpture and installations transform familiar, everyday objects into moving and powerful testimonies of loss and remembrance.
An examination of both mourning and materiality, the exhibition focuses on the last 15 years of Salcedo’s career and the artist’s use of unexpected materials in startling, seemingly impossible ways. Each of Salcedo’s sculptures is a response to political violence and social injustice, and is constructed in such a way that it absorbs the viewer without offering explicit explanation, even for those who have no direct experience of the subject matter. The exhibition was curated by Mary Schneider Enriquez, the Houghton Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museums, and is on view in the museums’ Special Exhibitions Gallery from November 4, 2016 through April 9, 2017.

A lifelong resident of Bogotá, Colombia, Salcedo began her career producing works that responded to the testimonies of survivors of oppression and political violence in her home country. In recent years, she has broadened her focus to include victims of civil war and oppression worldwide.

“Doris Salcedo’s subject matter is not unique to Colombia or to the impact of civil war; rather, the themes she addresses are current and applicable across the globe. Her work is absolutely timely, and there is no better place than a university museum to focus on the role that art can play in deepening awareness and understanding of such complex issues,” said Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot of the Harvard Art Museums. “Through this exhibition we invite all to explore these sociopolitical issues, but also to consider how Salcedo engages with sculpture as a medium, responding to and departing from conventions.”

The Materiality of Mourning focuses on key aspects of the artist’s oeuvre since 2001, examining an important group of Salcedo’s recent works and the decisive challenges they pose to sculpture’s traditions. There are four separate installations, with nine objects in total, including monumental cement-and-wood furniture pieces, ghostly cloaks made of thousands of needles, groupings of contorted stainless steel chairs, and a room-size tapestry composed of rose petals.

“By using materials from one’s private, everyday life in unexpected and unsettling ways, Salcedo transforms the familiar into the strange, producing works that speak vividly and powerfully about the issues she addresses,” said Schneider Enriquez. “Salcedo builds complex layers, centimeter by centimeter, a veritable skin bearing the wounds and history of political violence,” she added.

Accomplishing the “impossible”
Since 2008, Salcedo has incorporated organic materials that challenge temporal limits in her works. She has collaborated with scientists and engineers to find ways for soil, grass, rose petals, and other objects to be suspended in a particular, unlikely state in order to express haunting absence and the silence of remembrance. Testing the properties and parameters of these materials, she deliberately blurs the lines between the permanent and the ephemeral, between sculpture and performance, by creating works that are gestures of mourning. Her most recent sculptures convey a presence just on the verge of disappearing—a parallel to how memories of those lost to violence linger even as they threaten to reced 
“‘Impossible’ is the word that, for me, defines the creative act, an act in which—as Derrida instructs us—one should do only what is impossible,” states Doris Salcedo in her essay in the accompanying catalogue. “The impossible appears in my work when I need to make the ground cry drops of water that will join together to slowly write the names of those victims whose lives this society refuses to grieve. Or when, against all odds, grass grows underneath a wooden table, or when a shroud is made with rose petals that do not wither. Sometimes my task seems impossible, because each time I need to make a radically different piece to honor the singularity of each and every victim’s experience.”

Works on view
The museums’ recent acquisition A Flor de Piel (2013) is being shown publicly for the first time in this exhibition. A room-size tapestry comprised of thousands of carefully preserved red rose petals, hand-stitched together with waxed thread, the work is intended as a shroud for a nurse who was tortured to death in the Colombian war.

Because of its materiality, shape, and size, A Flor de Piel is a complicated piece for the museums to care for and display; it poses unique challenges for conservators. However, the skill and expertise of staff in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies make the museums the perfect home for such an object. Through intensive discussions with Salcedo’s studio, Narayan Khandekar, senior conservation scientist and director of the Straus Center; Angela Chang, conservator of objects and sculpture and assistant director of the Straus Center; and Schneider Enriquez are exploring how best to protect and care for the work, as they develop plans for its display, storage, and future conservation.

Additional objects in The Materiality of Mourning include a selection of Salcedo’s seminal sculptures, on loan from private and public collections as well as from the artist herself. Several works incorporate domestic furniture in unsettling configurations. Thou-less (2001–02), for instance, is comprised of carved, stainless steel chairs that are at once familiar and strange.

Other works highlight how Salcedo has recently pushed her commitment to materiality and its expressive possibilities to new extremes. These include four works from the Disremembered series (2014–16), individual ephemeral blouse-like sculptures that are constructed of handwoven silk threads filled with tiny needles. Each Disremembered sculpture provides a spectral contrast to Salcedo’s dense, physically imposing works, such as the two Untitled furniture pieces (2008) made of wood, metal, and concrete—with a combined weight of over 1,800 pounds—that will also be shown in the exhibition.

 Harvard Art Museums - Doris Salcedo - 04.11.2016-09.04.2017


2227 - 20170528 - U.S.A. - RENO - NEVADA - Nevada Museum of Art presents Peter Stichbury's first museum exhibition in the United States - 05.11.2016-28.05.2017

Peter Stichbury, Mona Stafford, 1976, 2014. Oil on linen 23.6 x 19.7 inches. Photo: Jason Mandella.
New Zealand-based artist Peter Stichbury has created a series of paintings and drawings linked to unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Fascinated by the stories of individuals who claim to have witnessed UFOs and/or extraterrestrials, he explores their motives, objectives, and reliability through portraits and related works. The artworks are informed by his meticulous research, which includes reading books and newspaper articles and consulting websites and video documentation. Peter Stichbury: Anatomy of a Phenomenon opened November 5 and will remain on view through May 28, 2017 at the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts, E. L. Wiegand Gallery located at 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno.  
The works in this gallery, the artist’s first museum exhibition in the United States, are inspired by national and international occurrences. Stichbury took a special interest in the 1994 southern Nevada UFO sightings at Nellis Air Force Base. This incident began when someone inside the facility leaked video footage of a flying object to the media. The video appeared on the television show Hard Copy, igniting intense interest and debate among UFO believers and doubters alike. Officials at both Nellis Air Force Base and the Pentagon declined to comment, leading Stichbury and many other members of the public to wonder about the motives behind the leaked footage. Was the individual a genuine whistleblower, or did this represent an incident of sanctioned disinformation, disseminated by an arm of the U.S. military?

There is a history of reported incursions into military facilities by UFOs, specifically over nuclear weapons storage areas. In the 1967 Malmstrom Air Force Base UFO sighting, for example, an object hovered above the base, causing missiles to become inoperable. Was the perpetrator extraterrestrial, or could this have been a human-caused incident related to espionage and national security? How can citizens grasp the sophistication of human technology, its parameters and capabilities, and the shroud of secrecy surrounding such technology? These questions, and the ongoing tension between reality and folklore embedded in UFO culture, provide compelling subject matter for Stichbury’s uncanny psychological explorations.
Nevada Museum of Art - Peter Stichbury - 05.11.2016-28.05.2017


2226 - 20170225 - U.S.A. - SAN FRANCISCO - CALIFORNIA - Expansive presentation surveying the career of Frank Stella in San Francisco - 05.11.2016-26.02.2017


Frank Stella, "Lac Laronge III," 1969. Acrylic on canvas, 108 x 162 in (274.3 × 411.5 cm). Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
.The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco present Frank Stella: A Retrospective, an expansive presentation surveying the career of this towering figure in post-WWII American art. Fifty works, including paintings, reliefs, sculptures and maquettes, are being displayed at the de Young, representing Frank Stella’s prolific output from the late 1950s to the present day. This is the first comprehensive U.S. presentation devoted to the artist since 1970.
“Frank Stella’s impact on abstract art is unmatched,” says Max Hollein, Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “This retrospective is timely and important for San Francisco audiences. To see the development of an artist who created ‘masterpieces’ just one year out of college, who is still working as a major force today—it is impressive to see an extraordinary body of work that spans six decades.”

Stella first burst into the New York art world in 1959, at the age of twenty-three, when four of his Black Series (1958-1960) paintings were included in the group exhibition, Sixteen Americans, at the Museum of Modern Art. In the following six decades he has remained one of the most important and influential figures in the evolution of modern art. Stella anticipated and pioneered many of the explosive changes in the art world, and remains an enduring figure of both critical and popular attention, as well as controversy.

“Frank Stella’s works span the spectrum of art from Minimalist to Maximalist,” notes Timothy Anglin Burgard, Curator-in-Charge of American Art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “In both ambition and achievement, his work appears to be the output of a dozen different artists. By combining intellectual rigor with aesthetic audacity these works have transformed the history of art.”

As part of the exhibition, Das Erdbeben in Chili [N#3] (The Earthquake in Chile) (1999) – one of Stella’s largest works, measuring 12 x 40.5 ft. – has been installed in Wilsey Court.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective comes to the de Young after a premiere at the Whitney Museum in New York and a showing at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. It is on view in San Francisco from November 5, 2016 through February 26, 2017. The curator for the de Young’s presentation is Timothy Anglin Burgard

The exhibition opens with paintings that Stella created as he forged his identity as an artist, including East Broadway and Great Jones Street (both 1958). Both works emulate and critique Abstract Expressionism, the dominant art movement of the time, but also reveal Stella’s early interest in the manipulation of space.

The artist’s subsequent work, the legendary series of Black paintings (1958–1960) which includes Die Fahne hoch! (1959) are formed exclusively of parallel bands of black paint separated by thin strips of unpainted canvas. Simple in form but far-reaching in their implications, these paintings inspired both painters and sculptors associated with the emerging Minimalist art movement.

The following Aluminum (1960) and Copper (1961) series employ shaped canvases, a radical innovation that rejected the traditional conception of a painting as a pictorial “window” into another space or realm. Works such as Creede II (1961) blur the boundaries between the art and its environment.

Turning from the monochromatic palettes of his previous works, Stella reintroduced vivid colors in the Benjamin Moore (1961) series, created with commercial house paints. Jasper’s Dilemma (1962) from the Mitred Maze (1962–1963) series, confront both the artist and the viewer with a choice between the seductive pleasures of color and the intellectual possibilities of monochrome.

While non-rectangular formats have been used throughout painting’s history, few artists have explored the potential of these forms with comparable rigor and insight as Stella. The Irregular Polygons (1966–1967) series, including Conway I (1966) and Chocorua IV (1966), marked a pivotal movement that bridged Stella’s emphasis on two dimensions in his early striped paintings and the potential for working in three dimensions in his later relief works.

Stella’s monumental works from the Protractor (1967–1971) series, such as Damascus Gate Stretch Variation III (1970), challenged the art world idea that modern art should not be beautiful, let alone popular. The artist believed that abstract painting had reached a crucial stage—embraced by critics, collectors, and curators, but lagging behind new developments in contemporary art.

Seeking to make abstract painting relevant again, Stella subverted the traditional boundaries of the medium with the Polish Village (1970–1974) series, projecting his works into the viewer’s space. Subsequent works such as Eskimo Curlew (1976), from the Exotic Bird (1976–1980) series and Talladega (1980), from the Circuit (1980–1984) series, incorporate an increasingly sculptural vocabulary of solids and voids.

Stella developed his own expanded conception of space in the Cones and Pillars (1984–1987) series, which included works such as Gobba, Zoppa e Collotorto (1985). Monumental reliefs from the Moby-Dick (1986–1997) series such as The Whiteness of the Whale (USB-1, 2X) (1987) expand space further with forms that suggest perpetual energy and motion.

The exhibition concludes with recent works, including those that Stella has created using advanced technologies such as computer-aided design software and three-dimensional printing. In works including K.144 (2013), which evokes the experience of listening to music in space and time, Stella has de-emphasized the sculptural properties of mass and weight, in favor of gravity-defying forms that convey the ways in which sounds can fill—and seemingly shape—space.

Born in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1936, Frank Stella attended Phillips Academy, in nearby Andover, and Princeton University, where he studied art history and painting. After graduation, he established permanent residence in New York City and achieved near-immediate fame with his Black Paintings (1958–1960). Throughout his career, Stella has continued to challenge and expand the boundaries of painting and sculpture. Though his early work influenced and allied him with the emerging Minimalist movement, Stella did not regard himself as an adherent of Minimalism, and his art has become visually more complex and dynamic over the years. Evolving away from a restrained aesthetic, Stella’s compositions became increasingly ambitious and exuberant in form, color, and scale.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco - Expansive presentation surveying the career of Frank Stella - 05.11.2016-26.02.2017


2225 - 20170115 - U.S.A. - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Exhibition at Asian Art Museum brings love, bravery, friendship and fiery battle to life - 21.10.2016-15.01.2017


The Asian Art Museum presents The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe, an exhibition of ancient and contemporary artwork and multimedia depicting sacred stories as old as the Bible, longer than the Odyssey, and a source of creative inspiration from India to Indonesia. 
On view Oct. 21, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017, The Rama Epic — organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco — is unprecedented in scale and scope, with 135 sculptures and paintings, masks, puppets, and examples of temple architecture. Objects and artworks originate from India, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, and are borrowed from museums across the U.S., U.K. and Europe.

Countless generations have grown up with this extraordinary tale, also known as the Ramayana (“Rama’s Journey”). By exploring the key characters of this beloved classic, the exhibition immerses visitors in the enduring appeal of Rama: the legendary prince; Sita: his long-suffering love; Hanuman: their faithful monkey lieutenant; and Ravana: the ten-headed lord of the demons, whose abduction of Sita sets the drama in motion.

Artworks from 1,500 years ago to today reveal how depictions of these characters — as well as their regional variations — have evolved over the centuries, with rare temple sculptures and paintings made for 17th-century royal courts appearing alongside works by contemporary artists reinterpreting the story in innovative ways.

“This exhibition does more than introduce one of the world’s greatest adventure stories to new audiences. It’s about gaining fresh insight into its chief characters, the hero Rama, his heroine Sita, their ally Hanuman, and their foe Ravana,” says exhibition curator Forrest McGill. “We’ve organized our presentation around these figures so that each one can shine in a different light, bringing out the nuances in an ancient story that has continued to be retold in art and performance to emphasize new, relevant meanings. Its eternal — and vividly human — values of compassion, loyalty, duty and valor are values all audiences can connect to in their daily lives.”

Diverse artworks from across southern Asia outline key story arcs
Many of the unique works featured in the exhibition have never travelled before to America, and the Asian Art Museum will be the only venue for visitors to experience The Rama Epic.

Each gallery focuses on one of the four main characters and explores their entire journey through the epic. A dazzling array of fine art is displayed alongside video excerpts of theatrical performances, TV miniseries, and other contemporary popular media, juxtaposing the diverse ways that Rama, Sita, Hanuman, and Ravana have appeared in various cultures at various times in history. Highlights include:

• Eight examples of the remarkably large and detailed paintings from the “Mewar Ramayana” as well as two of its Sanskrit text pages on loan from the British Library. Commissioned by a Hindu king, the chief artist of the set of paintings was Muslim. From the golden age of Indian court painting, it could be the most sumptuously illustrated version of the epic ever, with as many as 450 paintings originally made by teams of artists over the course of 1649-1653. Not to be missed from the Mewar is Mourning for the death of Ravana, a splendid painting showing Ravana’s many wives weeping over his body.

• The glorious, three-tiered Theatrical mask of Ravana comes from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where it is the crowning glory of a set of royal gifts bestowed in honor of America’s 1876 centennial by the King of Siam (Thailand), whose father was so memorably depicted in The King and I. With nine heads (the tenth being the live dancer’s) stacked on top of one another, the work is a rare example of a gilded theatrical mask surviving for almost a 150 years, having escaped the wear-and-tear of the stage.

• Hanuman conversing, a large bronze dated to 1000-1100, and borrowed from the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Holes in the base for dowels tell us that the statue would have once graced a temple in southern India where on festival occasions he would have been carried through the streets in religious processions, festooned with flowers and decked in jewels and rich textiles.

• A lushly painted accordion manuscript from around 1870, depicting Scenes of the Rama epic, comes to us from the final years before the British conquest of Myanmar. Most likely made specially for the royal library in Mandalay and featuring detailed illustrations of Sita attired as a Burmese princess in glittering gold, the images appear without text, demonstrating that even in Buddhist countries the Ramayana permeated cultural contexts.

• The Shadow puppet of Hanuman wooing Ravana’s niece Punnakay, part of a complete series of Cambodian puppets crafted in 1973 in the days before the genocidal wave of the Khmer Rouge wiped out a centuries-old artisanal tradition. Created by the last generation of local artisans trained in time-honored traditions, and now housed in Paris’s Musée national des arts asiatiques–Guimet, the perforated animal hide stands over four and half feet tall and illuminates how in Southeast Asia Hanuman is beloved as much as a Casanova as for his skills as a warrior, his cleverness and devotion.

“The Rama Epic really connects you to these characters no matter who you are or what kind of art you enjoy,” says Asian Art Museum Director Jay Xu. “It’s why we also include artworks like the pastel portrait of Sita from 1893 by French symbolist Odilon Redon. Although from Europe, this work shows the creative resonance of the story among artists of the avant-garde no matter the time or place, highlighting it as an important cultural reference point not only in Asia, but around the world today.”

New art, performances, and multimedia bring Rama Epic to life
• During the exhibition, the museum will host a series of dance performances from India, Cambodia, and Indonesia, supplemented with the interpretive magic of live storytellers and in-gallery clips of performers from across southern Asia as well as television series which are cherished touchstones for hundreds of millions of Rama epic-enthusiasts around the globe.

• Commissioned by the Asian Art Museum, acclaimed Indian documentary director Benoy Behl’s newest work, The Rama Epic Live, will be shown continuously. Behl’s sensitively observed film about performance traditions like dance and drama will allow both those familiar with the tale as well as newcomers to appreciate the Ramayana as it is interpreted around Asia. A longer version of the film will premiere at the museum on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 1:30PM.

• An original 60-minute exhibition audio tour, conceived to feel like a serial radio play, immerses visitors in the plot by incorporating the voice work of four actors of South Asian heritage as the main characters. Carefully crafted dialogue based on the classical version of the tale by Valmiki will mix with musical effects to bring the whole world of the Ramayana to life. Available for download for FREE on the museum’s website starting in mid-October.

Asian Art Museum - The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe - 21.10.2016 - 15.01.2017