TheMet150: “Gerhard Richter: Painting After All” at The Met Breuer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present a major loan exhibition devoted to the work of one of the greatest artists of our time: Gerhard Richter (German, born Dresden 1932), during the celebratory 150th year of its founding. On view at The Met Breuer from March 4 through July 5, 2020, Gerhard Richter: Painting After All (Floors 3 & 4) will span the artist’s six decade-long preoccupation with the twin modes of painterly naturalism and chromatic abstraction, in relation to photographic and other representational iconographies.

Comprising over 100 works from a prolific career—encompassing paintings, glass sculptures, prints, and photographs—the exhibition will present an incisive cut through Richter’s entire body of works. Significant early works will be brought into visual dialogue with recent ones that share a singular engagement with postwar avant-garde art practices, particularly his investigations into the ongoing formal and conceptual possibilities of painting. This is evident through his often-simultaneous production of both abstract and figurative compositions, the chromatic and conceptual nuances of gray across different media, and his interpretations of landscape and portraiture. Interwoven throughout the show will be works that testify to Richter’s long reckoning with history, as well as his exploration of photography’s relationship to realism and its mediation of memory.

Gerhard Richter (German, b. 1932). Ice (detail), 1981. Oil on canvas, 27 9/16 x 39 3/8 in. (70 x 100 cm). Collection of Ruth McLoughlin, Monaco. © Gerhard Richter 2019 (08102019)

The exhibition will be the first major exhibition in the United States on the work of Gerhard Richter in nearly twenty years. Gerhard Richter: Painting After All will feature several iconic works such as Uncle Rudi (1965), Betty (1977), and September (2005), and will also highlight many lesser-known works such as his series of monoprints from 1957 titled Elbe. Galleries devoted to single series including the twelve paintings entitled Forest (1995), will provide an immersive experience. Finally, two new glass works Gray Mirrors (4 Parts) (2018) and House of Cards (5Panes) (2020) will be exhibited for the first time.

Of equal importance, Gerhard Richter: Painting After All will highlight two important recent series by the artist that will serve as significant points of departure for the exhibition: Birkenau (2014) andCage (2006), both of which will be exhibited in the United States for the first time. Richter’s encounter with the only known photographs taken by prisoners inside the Nazi concentration camp led to the creation of the Birkenau series. The four paintings speak to Richter’s belief in painting as a powerful means to address the complex and often-difficult legacies of both personal and civic history. The six Cage paintings are key to understanding his lifelong preoccupation with abstraction through a different lens. In homage to the American composer and philosopher John Cage, whose innovative compositional techniques used chance as a way to ”imitate nature,” Richter’s meticulous multi-layered paintings are based on similar principles of calculated incidents.

Following its presentation in New York, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art (August 14, 2020–January 19, 2021).

The Met Breuer
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Upcoming Exhibition Brings Together 200 Works By 60 American And Mexican Artists At The Whitney Museum In February 2020

The cultural renaissance that emerged in Mexico in 1920 at the end of that country’s revolution dramatically changed art not just in Mexico but also in the United States. Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will explore the profound influence Mexican artists had on the direction American art would take. With approximately 200 works by sixty American and Mexican artists, Vida Americana reorients art history, acknowledging the wide-ranging and profound influence of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.

The Whitney Museum’s own connection to the Mexican muralists dates back to 1924 when the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney presented an exhibition of the work of three Mexican artists—José Clemente Orozco, Luis Hidalgo, and Miguel Covarrubias—at the Whitney Studio Club, organized by artist Alexander Brook. It was Orozco’s first exhibition in the United States. A few years later, in 1926, Orozco also showed watercolors from his House of Tears series at the Studio Club; and the following year Juliana Force, Mrs. Whitney’s executive assistant and future director of the Whitney Museum, provided critical support for Orozco at a time when he desperately needed it by acquiring ten of his drawings. The Mexican muralists had a profound influence on many artists who were mainstays of the Studio Club, and eventually the Whitney Museum, including several American artists featured in Vida Americana, such as Thomas Hart Benton, William Gropper, Isamu Noguchi, and Ben Shahn.

Diego Rivera. The Uprising, 1931. Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 74 × 94 1/8 in. (188 × 239 cm). Collection of Marcos and Vicky Micha Levy © 2019 Banco de México–Rivera–Kahlo/ARS. Reproduction authorized by El Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2019.

Curated by Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will be on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art from February 17 through May 17, 2020 and will travel to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, where it will be on display from June 25 through October 4, 2020. At the McNay Art Museum, the installation will be overseen by René Paul Barrilleaux.

Jacob Lawrence. Panel 3 from The Migration Series, From every Southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north.,1940–41. Casein tempera on hardboard 12 × 18 in. (30.5 × 45.7 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; acquired 1942. © 2019 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Vida Americana is an enormously important undertaking for the Whitney and could not be more timely given its entwined aesthetic and political concerns,” said Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “It not only represents the culmination of nearly a decade of scholarly research and generous international collaboration but also demonstrates our commitment to presenting a more comprehensive and inclusive view of twentieth-century and contemporary art in the United States.”

María Izquierdo. My Nieces, 1940. Oil on composition board, 55 1/8 × 39 3/8 in. (140 × 100 cm). Museo Nacional de Arte, INBAL, Mexico City; constitutive collection, 1982 © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City. Reproduction authorized by El Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2019.

Comprised of paintings, portable frescoes, films, sculptures, prints, photographs, and drawings, as well as reproductions of in-situ murals, Vida Americana will be divided into nine thematic sections and will occupy the entirety of the Whitney’s fifth-floor Neil Bluhm Family Galleries. This unprecedented installation, and the catalogue that accompanies it, will provide the first opportunity to reconsider this cultural history, revealing the immense influence of Mexican artists on their American counterparts between 1925 and 1945.

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Fifth Class Of The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellows Announced By Six Major U.S. Museums

The Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are pleased to announce the 20192021 class of fellows designated for The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. The fellowship provides specialized training to students across the United States from historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field and supports the goal of promoting inclusive, pluralistic museums. The students began their fellowships this fall. (More information about the need for a diverse educational pipeline into the curatorial field is available in the 2018 Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey.)

Fellows participate in The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program during their undergraduate career, with the goal of continuing their education through graduate work. The two-year fellowship provides students with hands-on experience in a museum setting, assisting curators and staff on exhibitions, collections, and programs. Fellows are matched with a curatorial mentor at each museum who works to enrich the academic experience and to increase exposure to the museum context while broadening a fellow’s understanding of art and art history. Fellowships include regular engagement during the academic school year followed by full-time engagement over the summer.

Since the program began in 2014, 30 fellows have completed the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship program. Two fellows have started the PhD program in art history at Harvard University, while nine others have completed Master’s degrees or are enrolled in graduate programs at the Courtauld Institute of Art; University of Chicago; University of Texas, Austin; University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies; Arizona State University; the Maryland Institute College of Art; the American University in Cairo; Cornell University; and the University of Southern California. Nearly half of the alumni are working in the arts either in staff positions or in other fellowship opportunities. 

The 2019-2021 Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellows:

Art Institute of Chicago: Iris Haastrup is a second-year student at Wellesley College double-majoring in art history and architecture. Haastrup is from the South Side of Chicago with familial ties to Mississippi and Nigeria. In her time at Wellesley, she is the lecture chair for the black student association, on the programming committee of the Davis Museum student advisory board, and a member of TZE arts and music society. Academically, Haastrup is interested in research regarding black women artists, the relationship between art and activism, equity in the arts, and the effects of sustainability in architecture. She is inspired by the works of Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, and Carrie Mae Weems. In her personal life, she enjoys making crafts and zines, skateboarding, and watching movies. For the 2019–20 academic year, Haastrup will be mentored by Constantine Petridis, Chair of the Department of the Arts of Africa and the Americas and Curator of African Art.

Kyndal Gragg is a third-year student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) studying art history and urban planning. Gragg developed a passion for museums early in her academic career and believes that museums are like books in their storytelling capacity. Gragg is passionate about advocating for narratives from indigenous communities and the African diaspora so that they may be recognized for the longevity of their artistic contribution and seen as contemporary practitioners. Currently, Gragg is a collections assistant at UIUC’s Spurlock Museum and a research assistant for Krannert Art Museum where she researches and digitizes Andean materials for an upcoming reinstallation. Gragg is interested in supporting the collective history of the world and emphasizing a pluralistic appreciation for art. For the 2019–20 academic year, Gragg will be mentored by Andrew Hamilton, Associate Curator of Art of the Americas in the Department of the Arts of Africa and the Americas.

It’s an honor to once again have the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in the ambitious work of developing our next generation of curatorial leaders. Our Mellon Fellows continue to bring fresh perspectives to the museum and we are excited to see participants from our first cohort embarking on graduate studies and beginning careers at cultural institutions across the country. We look forward to following their future accomplishments,” said James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned art museum housing one of the largest permanent collections in the United States. An encyclopedic museum, the Art Institute collects, preserves, and displays works in every medium from all cultures and historical periods as well as hosts special exhibitions. With a collection of approximately 300,000 works of art, the museum has particularly strong holdings in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, early 20th century European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, Japanese prints, and photography. The museum’s 2009 addition, the Modern Wing, features the latest in green museum technology and 264,000 square feet dedicated to modern and contemporary art, photography, architecture and design, and new learning and public engagement facilities. In addition to displaying its permanent collection, the Art Institute mounts approximately 35 special exhibitions per year and features lectures, gallery tours, and special performances on a daily basis. Location and Contact: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603 | 312 443-3600 | www.artic.edu

High Museum of Art: Destinee Filmore is a third-year student from Tampa, Florida studying art history and international studies at Spelman College. On campus, she is an active member and leader of several organizations, most notably, the Bonner Scholar Program, Social Justice Program, and Curatorial Studies Program. Filmore is interested in a wide range of research topics but is most intrigued by the impact made by African American artists on communities abroad during their voluntary or involuntary departures from the United States. Filmore intends to pursue a doctorate degree in art history following her time at Spelman and aspires to become a curator. She is also interested in advocating for the accessibility of arts-based education programs for low-income students and students of color as such programs were vital to her success. As a Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellow at the High Museum of Art, Filmore is receiving mentorship from Katherine Jentleson, Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art.

Adeja Sterling is a third-year student at Emory University studying art history in hopes of becoming a curator, art writer, and one day a museum director. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, but now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Sterling has had a range of experiences in the Atlanta art scene, previously interning at ART PAPERS magazine, and with the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia (MOCA GA). As a Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellow at the High Museum, Adeja will be mentored by Stephanie Heydt, Margaret and Terry Stent, Curator of American Art.

As we welcome a new class of Mellon Fellows to the High, we reflect on the remarkable impact this program has had on our institution, but also look forward to how it will continue to shape the future of the field,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High Museum of Art. “Bringing diverse perspectives to museum leadership will help to ensure that our organizations remain relevant and essential in our communities. We are honored to continue this important work with the support of the Mellon Foundation.”

The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States, housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano. With more than 16,000 works of art, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that reflective of the American south; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art including paintings, sculpture, new media, and design; a growing collection of African art with work dating from pre-history to the present day; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to a program reflective of the diversity of its communities, offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs as well as a host of new experiences that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. Location and Contact: 1280 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309 | 404 733-4400 | www.high.org

Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Emily Le is a third-year student at the University of Southern California (USC), double majoring in art history and creative writing. Throughout her time at USC thus far, she has been working as a collections associate for the school’s Archaeology Lab and has also had the opportunity to co-curate an exhibit for the USC Fisher Museum, entitled Suppression, Subversion, and the Surreal: The Art of Czechoslovakian Resistance. As a first-generation college student and a child of Vietnamese immigrants, Le was not exposed to art, art history, or museums until later in life. Coming from this background, she wants to bring greater accessibility and diversity to the museum world, breaking down the idea of art as being a “cultural privilege.” Her curatorial mentor is Hollis Goodall, Curator of Japanese Art.

Jackeline Lopez is a third-year student majoring in anthropology with a focus in archaeology, as well as art history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, she strives to apply anthropology to curatorial work and is particularly interested in the process of making exhibitions accessible to underrepresented communities. Her goal as an aspiring archaeologist and curator is to protect and preserve cultural patrimony, and to encourage cross-cultural connections. Lopez is currently involved in an archaeological project based in Portugal and recently completed her second field season there. Along with writing an honors thesis based on the project’s research, she plans to co-curate an exhibition with the site director to make their findings accessible to the local, rural community. Stephen Little, Florence & Harry Sloan Curator of Chinese Art and Department Head, Chinese, Korean, South and Southeast Asian Art, will be her curatorial mentor during her first year in the program.

We are pleased to welcome the incoming class of Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellows,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “Now in its sixth year, we are beginning to see the potential long-term impact of this important fellowship, expanding the canon and the voices we hear from for generations to come.”

Located on the Pacific Rim, LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of nearly 142,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of artistic expression across the globe. Committed to showcasing a multitude of art histories, LACMA exhibits and interprets works of art from new and unexpected points of view that are informed by the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse population. LACMA’s spirit of experimentation is reflected in its work with artists, technologists, and thought leaders as well as in its regional, national, and global partnerships to share collections and programs, create pioneering initiatives, and engage new audiences. Location and Contact: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036 | 323 857-6000 | www.lacma.org

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Whitney Museum Announces Recent Acquisitions, Including Works Acquired From 2019 Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Museum of American Art announced that it has acquired more than 250 works of art since last April. Among these acquisitions are 88 works by 40 artists who were featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.

John Edmonds, Tête d’Homme, 2018. Archival inkjet print. Sheet (sight): 23 5/8 × 29 9/16in. (60 × 75.1 cm) © John Edmonds. Purchase, with funds from the Henry Nias Foundation

Other recent acquisitions include works by artists who are joining the collection for the first time, including Laura Aguilar, John Ahearn, Maria Berrio, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, ektor garcia, Ajay Kurian, Wendy Red Star, Wallace & Donahue, and others.

Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator commented: “Through the Biennial and our emerging artist program, the Whitney is committed to adding new voices to our collection, but we’re also deepening our relationships with artists already represented in it, with acquisitions of works by, among others, Alex Da Corte, Simone Leigh, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Hank Willis Thomas. We are particularly proud that our recent gifts and purchases highlight the museum’s increased scholarship on and engagement with Latinx and Indigenous artists.”

We are thrilled to be making many important acquisitions from the 2019 Whitney Biennial and to be continuing our long-standing tradition of expanding the collection through this flagship exhibition,” noted Jane Panetta, Curator and Director of the Collection, who was also a co-curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial. “Additionally, we are very excited to be acquiring work that will be part of our upcoming collection presentation, Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, featuring important examples by Shan Goshorn, Jordan Nassar and Elaine Reichek. In all instances, these new acquisitions point to the Whitney’s deep commitment to continuing to build an ambitious and inclusive collection and to the significant relationship between our exhibition program and the work we acquire.

Some highlights of works acquired from the Biennial include John Edmonds’s meticulously composed photographs which feature carefully choreographed subjects and settings to create portraits such as Tête d’Homme (2018) and The Villain (2018) that challenge the art historical canon while simultaneously interrogating and celebrating Black identity; Janiva Ellis’s canvas Uh Oh, Look Who Got Wet (2019) featuring a graphically rendered figure against the backdrop of a monumental landscape executed in brilliant colors with vivid attention to the materiality of paint; Kota Ezawa’s projected video animation National Anthem (2018) that utilizes repurposed footage of multiple NFL teams as the basis for small-scale watercolor paintings used to create this video depicting NFL players taking a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of police violence against unarmed Black men; Daniel Lind-Ramos’s Maria-Maria (2019), an assembled sculpture made of found materials whose haloed form, blue robes, and title suggest the Virgin Mary but also reference Hurricane Maria, the devastating 2017 storm that struck Puerto Rico; Jennifer Packer’s monumental, lush painting A Lesson in Longing (2019) featuring her signature, gestural figures and adept use of color; and Carissa Rodriguez’s high-definition video The Maid (2018) that tracks Sherrie Levine’s Newborn sculptures (1993–94) over the course of a day through various collections in homes, galleries, and museums.

The Whitney’s collection includes nearly 25,000 works created by approximately 3,500 artists during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This focus on the contemporary, along with a deep respect for artists’ creative process and vision, has guided the Museum’s collecting ever since its founding in 1930. The collection begins with Ashcan School painting and follows the major movements of the twentieth century in America, with strengths in modernism and Social Realism, Precisionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, Minimalism, Postminimalism, art centered on identity and politics that came to the fore in the 1980s and 1990s, and contemporary work.

(View and download PDFs of recent acquisitions.)

The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City. Museum hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 am to 6 pm; Friday from 10:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Tuesday except in July and August. Adults: $25. Full-time students, visitors 65 & over, and visitors with disabilities: $18. Visitors 18 years & under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 7–10 pm. For general information, please call (212) 570-3600 or visit whitney.org.

TheMet150: “Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe”

Between 1550 and 1750, nearly every royal family in Europe assembled vast collections of exquisite and entertaining objects. Lavish public spending and the display of precious metals were important expressions of power, and possessing artistic and technological innovations conveyed status. In fact, advancements in art, science, and technology were often prominently showcased in elaborate court entertainments that were characteristic of the period. Opening November 25, Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe (November 25, 2019–March 1, 2020, The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 999, Iris and Gerald B. Cantor Exhibition Hall, Floor 2) will explore the complex ways in which the wondrous objects collected and displayed by early modern European monarchs expressed these rulers’ ability to govern. Making Marvels is organized by Wolfram Koeppe, the Marina Kellen French Curator in The Met’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.

Gerhard Emmoser (German, active 1556–84). Celestial globe with clockwork, 1579. Partially gilded silver, gilded brass (case); brass, steel (movement). Overall: 10 3/4 × 8 × 7 1/2 in. (27.3 × 20.3 × 19.1 cm); Diameter of globe: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm). Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (17.190.636)

The exhibition will feature approximately 170 objects—including clocks, automata, furniture, scientific instruments, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, print media, and more—from The Met collection and more than 50 lenders. A number of these works have never been displayed in the United States. Among the many exceptional loans will be silver furniture from the Esterházy Treasury; the largest flawless natural green diamond in the world, weighing 41 carats and in its original 18th-century setting; the alchemistic table bell of Emperor Rudolf II; a large wire-drawing bench made for Elector Augustus of Saxony; a rare example of an early equation clock by Jost Bürgi; and a reconstruction of a late 18th-century semi-automaton chess player, known as “The Turk,” that once famously caught Napoleon Bonaparte cheating.

Max Hollein, Director of The Met, commented: “On a regular basis, news about the latest technological devices and their astonishing capabilities both fascinates and delights us. These familiar feelings echo those of princely patrons in centuries past who desired to possess and display the most marvelous artistic creations and inventions, made of the most precious and unusual materials and incorporating the newest scientific information.

Making Marvels is the first exhibition in North America to highlight the important conjunction of art, science, and technology with entertainment and display that was essential to court culture. The exhibition will be divided into four sections dedicated to the main object types featured in these displays: precious metalwork, Kunstkammer objects, princely tools, and self-moving clockworks or automata. (Kunstkammer is the term used in German-speaking provinces to describe these collections.)

In order to emphasize the scientific and technological content of these objects, the exhibition will begin by establishing the high level of material value and artisanal quality that princes had to meet in these displays of wealth and power. Visitors will encounter a set of superbly fashioned silver furniture that was considered the ultimate symbol of power, status, and wealth during the early modern period. The second section will be dedicated to the unusual objects of the Kunstkammer. These items were typically composed of newly discovered natural materials set in finely crafted mounts of silver or gold, whose highly inventive designs often embodied the most up-to-date knowledge of the natural world. Reflective of the multi-layered objects they housed, the Kunstkammer functioned simultaneously as places of amusement, research retreats for the investigation of nature, and political showcases for magnificence.

Knowledge of subjects such as natural philosophy, artisanal craftsmanship, and technology was considered tantamount to the practical wisdom, self-mastery, and moral virtue integral to successful governance. Pursuits such as metalsmithing, surveying, horology, astronomy, and turning at the lathe were part of the education and entertainment of princes in courts across Europe. The exhibition’s third section will present the scientific instruments, artisanal tools, and experimental apparatus used by rulers as they developed the technical skills so important to their princely identity.

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TheMet150: Met Receives Major Gift of Late 19th-Century American Decorative Arts and Paintings from Barrie and Deedee Wigmore for Museum’s 150th Anniversary

Nearly 50 Highlights on View Beginning December 2

Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore have promised 88 superlative examples of American Aesthetic Movement and Gilded Age decorative arts and contemporaneous paintings from their collection—one of the preeminent holdings of late 19th-century American art in private hands—to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gift is part of The Met’s 2020 Collections Initiative celebrating the Museum’s 150th anniversary.

Comprised of prime examples of American decorative arts and paintings, all created around the time The Met was formed, this gift has particular resonance in the Museum’s anniversary year,” stated Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “We are deeply grateful to Met Trustee Barrie Wigmore and his wife, Deedee, for their exceptional generosity.”

Aesthetic Splendors: Highlights from the Gift of Barrie and Deedee Wigmore will be on view in the Museum’s American Wing beginning December 2, 2019, in a gallery named for Mrs. Wigmore and devoted to decorative arts of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s. The Met’s temporary installation will evoke the scrupulously restored interiors of the Wigmores’ home (which was constructed in the same period), with reproduction wallpapers of the same era as their collection. While a few of the works have been included in major exhibitions, most of those on display have never been seen by the public.

Aesthetic Splendors: Highlights from the Gift of Barrie and Deedee Wigmore: One of the most exceptional examples of the the Aesthetic Movement is a large Herter cabinet with delicate marquetry decoration of butterflies and spiderwebs, intricate carving, and gilding. (Image provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Speaking about the gift, Mr. and Mrs. Wigmore said: “Having our collection go to the American Wing is like having it stay in the family.

The focus of the Wigmores’ collection is art dating from the 1860s to the early 1890s, a period that coincides with many significant cultural achievements in New York, including the founding of The Met in 1870. The enormous wealth earned by post–Civil War industrialists and financiers gave rise to what is known as the Gilded Age—a period when highly skilled craftspeople, mainly immigrants, produced sumptuous objects for a discerning clientele.

The Wigmores’ holdings are a testament to their commitment to collecting works of the highest quality. Assembled over four decades, the collection features outstanding works by luminaries of American art. Their early focus in American painting was on members of the second generation of the Hudson River School, including multiple works by Albert Bierstadt, Sanford R. Gifford, John Kensett, Alfred Thompson Bricher, and Jervis McEntee. Because the Wigmores began collecting at an early date, they were able to acquire some of the finest examples by these leading artists. Among the highlights of their collection are the many masterful plein air (on the spot) oil sketches of the American wilderness, which they purchased at a time when these vibrant, quickly executed works were overlooked; today, they are much sought after and highly valued. These sketches provide a window into the artists’ thought processes and served as inspiration for their large-scale paintings. Of particular note are the plein air study and the much larger finished canvas for Gifford’s 1877–79 work An Indian Summer Day on Claverack Creek. The collection of paintings are in gilded, 19th-century frames that the artists of the Hudson River School regarded as critical to the aesthetic presentation of their work.

The Wigmores were pioneers in collecting the decorative arts, especially furniture and artistic brass furnishings, of the 1870s and 1880s, the period when the Aesthetic Movement was in full favor in America. They concentrated on premier furniture firms—including Herter Brothers and Kimbel & Cabus of New York and A. and H. Lejambre and Daniel Pabst of Philadelphia—that catered to a wealthy clientele. One of the most exceptional examples is a large Herter cabinet with delicate marquetry decoration of butterflies and spiderwebs, intricate carving, and gilding. The Wigmores were among the first to recognize the significance of “art brass” (decorative objects made of bronze), and their impressive holdings include exuberant work by principal makers, notably the Charles Parker Company in Meriden, Connecticut.

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TheMet150 Celebration: Costume Institute’s Spring 2020 Exhibition to Present a Disruptive Timeline of Fashion History

Costume Institute Benefit on May 4 with Co-Chairs Nicolas Ghesquière, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, and Anna Wintour

The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced that The Costume Institute’s Spring 2020 Exhibition will be About Time: Fashion and Duration, on view from May 7 through September 7, 2020 (preceded on May 4 by The Costume Institute Benefit). Presented in The Met Fifth Avenue’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, it will trace more than a century and a half of fashion, from 1870 to the present, along a disruptive timeline, as part of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration. Employing philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée—time that flows, accumulates, and is indivisible—the exhibition will explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate the past, present, and future. The concept will also be examined through the writings of Virginia Woolf, who will serve as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibition. Michael Cunningham, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Hours, which was inspired by Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, will write a new short story for the exhibition catalogue that reflects on the concept of duration.

Surreal, David Bailey (British, born 1938), 1980; Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © David Bailey

The exhibition will feature approximately 160 examples of women’s fashion dating from 1870—the year of The Met’s founding and the start of a decade that witnessed the development of a standardized time system—to the present. The majority of objects in the show will come from The Costume Institute’s collection, including gifts made as part of The Met’s 2020 Collections Initiative in celebration of the Museum’s 150th anniversary.

A linear chronology of fashion comprised predominantly of ensembles in black will run through the exhibition reflecting the progressive timescale of modernity, and bringing into focus the fast, fleeting rhythm of fashion. Unlike traditional chronologies, which reduce the history of fashion to a limited number of decade-defining silhouettes, this timeline will be presented as a ceaseless continuum that is more complete and comprehensive in scope. Interrupting this timeline will be a series of counter-chronologies composed of predominantly white ensembles that pre-date or post-date those in black, but relate to one another through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueenBumster” skirt from 1995, and a black silk velvet bustle ensemble from the mid-1880s will be juxtaposed with a Comme des GarçonsBody Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body” dress from 1997.

The Clock, Sarah Moon (French, born 1941), 1999; Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Sarah Moon

The exhibition will conclude with a section on the future of fashion, linking the concept of duration to debates about longevity and sustainability.

This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “As such, the show will present a nuanced continuum of fashion over the Museum’s 150-year history.”

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