The Whitney To Present “Making Knowing: Craft In Art, 1950–2019,” Highlighting Rarely Seen Artworks From The Museum’s Collection

On November 22, the Whitney Museum of American Art opens Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, an exhibition that foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft. Beginning in the 1950s—at a time when many artists embraced fiber arts and ceramics to challenge the dominance of traditional painting and sculpture—Making Knowing moves through the next seven decades, presenting works that speak to artists’ interests in domesticity, hobbyist materials, the decorative, vernacular American traditions, “women’s work,” and feminist and queer aesthetics.

Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition features over eighty artworks in a variety of media, including textiles, ceramics, painting, drawing, photography, video, and large-scale sculptural installation. The more than sixty artists represented include Anni Albers, Richard Artschwager, Ruth Asawa, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Robert Gober, Shan Goshorn, Harmony Hammond, Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, Mike Kelley, Yayoi Kusama, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Simone Leigh, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Pepón Osorio, Howardena Pindell, Ken Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Arlene Shechet, Kiki Smith, Lenore Tawney, Peter Voulkos, Marie Watt, and Betty Woodman.

Liza Lou (b. 1969), Kitchen, 1991–96. Beads, plaster, wood and found objects, 96 × 132 × 168 in. (243.8 × 335.3 × 426.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Peter Norton 2008.339a-x. © Liza Lou. Photograph by Tom Powel, courtesy the artist

One of the greatest pleasures and responsibilities that comes with digging into the Whitney’s collection is the way it continually compels us to reevaluate our received ideas about taste, style, and even what counts as art at any moment,” remarks Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “By focusing on materials and techniques associated with craft, Making Knowing will offer jolts of surprise, emotion, provocation, and discovery through an incredible range of works, more than half of which have never been on display in our galleries.”

Harmony Hammond (b. 1944), Hug, 1978. Acrylic on fabric and wood, 64 × 30 1/4 × 14 in. (162.6 × 76.8 × 35.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Rosemary McNamara 2017.208a-b. © 2019 Harmony Hammond/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Making Knowing is organized chronologically and thematically, beginning with a gallery of works from the 1950s. Throughout this decade, artists such as Ruth Asawa, Robert Rauschenberg, and Peter Voulkos experimented with wire, scavenged fabric, and clay. Others, including Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, and Ann Wilson, explored weaving, both on and off the loom, and painting on found quilts. By employing marginalized craft media, they challenged the power structures that determined artistic value. Presenting these artists together reveals the profound influence that craft had on abstraction during this period.

Betty Woodman (1930–2018), Still Life #11, 1990. Glazed and polychromed ceramic, 35 × 10 1/4 × 7 5/8 in. (88.9 × 26 × 19.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Julia Childs Augur 92.25. © Betty Woodman0

Subsequent galleries demonstrate how artists working in the 1960s and 1970s frequently questioned why fine art was more accepted and valued than more vernacular or utilitarian traditions. Among them, Richard Artschwager, Eva Hesse, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Morris, Howardena Pindell, and Alan Shields experimented with unconventional materials such as rope, felt, and string, and in doing so influenced various art historical movements, including Pop Art, Minimalism, and Process art. In Shields’s J + K, 1972, the canvas border creates a satirically legitimizing frame for craft materials like strands of beads.

Alan Shields (1944–2005), J + K, 1972. Acrylic, thread, beads on canvas, 107 × 252 7/8 × 2 3/4 in. (271.8 × 642.3 × 7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Paula Cooper 2017.165a-l. © Estate of Alan Shields

Making Knowing also highlights modes of making from the 1970s and 1980s frequently categorized as “women’s work.” While this phrase denigrated certain materials and aesthetics associated with femininity, artists purposefully worked in these ways in order to question gender roles in both the art world and society at large. Artists such as Barbara Chase-Riboud, Harmony Hammond, Kim MacConnel, Elaine Reichek, Miriam Schapiro, and Betty Woodman used cloth, embroidery, sewing, and ceramics to elevate the often-disparaged tradition of the “decorative,” and to attest to the impossibility of tethering these techniques to a single use or means of expression.

The works on display from the 1980s and 1990s exemplify how artists during this period looked at art and its relationship to devotional practices and often grappled with an ambivalence towards organized religion. Arch Connelly, Robert Gober, Mike Kelley, Lucas Samaras, Kiki Smith, and Rosie Lee Tompkins used wide-ranging materials including quilts, found and sewn textiles, candles, artificial flowers, and beads in artworks that reveal the relationship between the spiritual and the worldly. Working at the height of the AIDS crisis, several of these artists’ attention to handcrafting objects attempted to provide an emotionally reparative experience in the absence of aid from the government or religious authorities.

A gallery dedicated to artwork from the mid-1990s to the present broadly addresses issues of the body and place. Liza Lou’s monumental installation Kitchen, 1991–1996, is a handmade, life-size kitchen composed of sparkling beads. Through subject matter and materials, Lou combines the physical labor of domestic life and the painstaking making of an artwork. On view for the first time here are recent acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson.

Many of the artists in Making Knowing have taken up historically marginalized materials in order to upend hierarchies that have persisted in art history and in museum collecting practices,” explains co-curator Jennie Goldstein. Elisabeth Sherman, co-curator, continues, “Together they demonstrate that craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is indispensable to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art.

Making Knowing offers a fresh look at a prominent, ever-present thread of the Whitney’s collection. The exhibition’s title reformulates the historical tension often separating craft and fine art by leveling the distinction between the world of the handmade, “making,” and the world of ideas, “knowing.”

Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 will be on view beginning November 22, 2019, in the Museum’s sixth-floor collection galleries. The Whitney’s sixth-floor galleries continue to serve as a space to present challenging, thematic exhibitions that explore and rethink various threads of the Museum’s collection. Past sixth-floor collection exhibitions include An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017 (2017–2018) and Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018 (2018–2019).

Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 is curated by Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator, and Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, with Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant.

Support for Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 is provided by the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation.

Steve Wynn Unveils Floral Sculptures by Event Designer, Preston Bailey

A CUSTOM-DESIGNED HOT AIR BALLOON AND CAROUSEL DEBUT AT WYNN LAS VEGAS

As part of the resort’s continued commitment and appreciation of public art, Wynn Las Vegas unveiled two floral installations conceptualized by acclaimed event designer, Preston Bailey. The resorts feature an array of publicly displayed art, including works by the renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero, Raoul Dufy, Miriam Schapiro, Frank Owen, Tim Bavington, Viola Frey, Kazumi Yoshida and Jeff Koons.

Floral carousel, designed by Preston Bailey, unveiled at Wynn Las Vegas

Floral carousel, designed by Preston Bailey, unveiled at Wynn Las Vegas

Globally-celebrated for his unique ability to transform ordinary spaces into lush, theatrical environments, Bailey is known as the premier event designer for a client roster that includes celebrities, royal families, CEO’s and athletes. Known for his ability to transform the dreams of his clients into reality, Bailey is often sought out to create never-seen-before designs that serve as backdrops for some of the most memorable moments of their lives. In addition to his events, Preston is a sought-after artist who has been commissioned to create public art installations in London, Taipei, Hong Kong, New York, and Jakarta.

Floral hot air balloon, designed by Preston Bailey, unveiled at Wynn Las Vegas

Floral hot air balloon, designed by Preston Bailey, unveiled at Wynn Las Vegas

The visually stunning hot air balloon and animated carousel will indefinitely reside in the atrium at Wynn Las Vegas. The installations were crafted by Wynn Design and Development and Forte Specialty Contractors. Constructed with a core made of fiber-reinforced plastic, the sculptures are adorned with more than 110,000 flowers, artistically arranged in a vibrant color palette. The hot air balloon stands 20 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds, while the carousel is 13 feet tall, 16 feet wide and weighs 6,000 pounds. Both installations feature theatrical lighting and are accompanied by festive music. In total, more than 3,500 hours went into completing the installations.

The new floral sculptures complement the existing décor elements within the Wynn atrium, which was designed to create a soft, lush atmosphere that acts as a decompression zone as guests enter the resort. The atrium is home to 50 year old Ficus trees that are surrounded by ten different species of dark and light green base plants. Floral sculpture balls, consisting of nearly 50,000 flowers, hang from the Ficus trees in a combination of colors and sizes. Every three weeks, more than 5,000 seasonal flowering plants are replaced in color palettes matching the season, creating an ever-changing space for guests to enjoy.

When developing the concept of the floral sculptures, Bailey looked to childhood inspirations to play upon the existing whimsical theme of the Wynn atrium. Having always been fascinated by the magic of a carousel and the imposing imagery of a hot air balloon, Bailey translated that captivation into floral interpretations that could live forever in the memories of guests visiting Wynn Las Vegas. Continue reading

WYNN LAS VEGAS UNVEILS TULIPS BY RENOWNED ARTIST, JEFF KOONS

THE SCULPTURAL MASTERPIECE DEBUTS AT THE RESORT FOR PUBLIC DISPLAY

As part of the resort’s continued commitment and appreciation of public art, WYNN LAS VEGAS unveils Tulips by JEFF KOONS.  Rendered in mirror-polished stainless steel and transparent color coating, Tulips will illuminate the Wynn Theater rotunda at Wynn Las Vegas.

Wynn Las Vegas unveils Jeff Koons Tulips sculpture. Copyright Jeff Koons. Photo by Barbara Kraft

Wynn Las Vegas unveils Jeff Koons Tulips sculpture. Copyright Jeff Koons. Photo by Barbara Kraft

Many people believe that Jeff Koons is one of the most important living artists on canvas and in sculpture in the world today,” said WYNN RESORTS CHAIRMAN AND CEO STEVE WYNN. “I’m happy to be one of those people and particularly delighted to share with our guests his magnificent creation of the Tulips sculpture, which is now gracing the intersection of Wynn and Encore in our resort, near our showroom lobby.  If you see them you will find the experience totally delicious.” Continue reading