Major Exhibition, Exploring How Designers Today Are Shaping The Future, To Premiere At The Philadelphia Museum Of Art, October 22, 2019–March 8, 2020

Designs for Different Futures is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The role of designers in shaping how we think about the future is the subject of a major exhibition that will premiere at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this fall. Designs for Different Futures (October 22, 2019–March 8, 2020) brings together some 80 works that address the challenges and opportunities that humans may encounter in the years, decades, and centuries ahead. Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Art Institute of Chicago, Designs for Different Futures will be presented at the Walker (September 12, 2020–January 3, 2021) and the Art Institute of Chicago (February 6–May 16, 2021) following its presentation in Philadelphia.

Among the questions today’s designers seek to answer are: What role can technology play in augmenting or replacing a broad range of human activities? Can intimacy be maintained at a distance? How can we negotiate privacy in a world in which the sharing and use of personal information has blurred traditional boundaries? How might we use design to help heal or transform ourselves, bodily and psychologically? How will we feed an ever-growing population?

“Another Generosity,” designed 2018 by Eero Lundén, Ron Aasholm, and Carmen Lee of Lundén Architecture Company in collaboration with Bergent, BuroHappold Engineering, and Aalto University (Courtesy of the designers). Photograph © Andrea Ferro. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

While no one can precisely predict the shape of things to come, the works in the exhibition are firmly fixed on the future, providing design solutions for a number of speculative scenarios. In some instances, these proposals are borne of a sense of anxiety, and in others of a sense of excitement over the possibilities that can be created through the use of innovative materials, new technologies, and, most importantly, fresh ideas.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: “We often think of art museums as places that foster a dialogue between the past and the present, but they also can and should be places that inspire us to think about the future and to ask how artists and designers can help us think creatively about it. We are delighted to be able to collaborate with the Walker Art Center and the Art Institute of Chicago on this engaging project, which will offer our visitors an opportunity to understand not only how designers are imagining—and responding to—different visions of the futures, but also to understand just how profoundly forward-looking design contributes in our own time to shaping the world that we occupy and will bequeath as a legacy to future generations.

“PhoeniX Exoskeleton,” designed around 2013 by Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni for suitX (Courtesy of the manufacturer). Photograph ©suitX. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.
Lia: The Flushable and Biodegradable Pregnancy Test,” designed 2018 by Bethany Edwards and Anna Couturier Simpson (Courtesy of the designer). Photograph courtesy of LIA Diagnostics. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Thinking about the future has always been part of the human condition. It has also been a perennial field of inquiry for designers and architects whose speculations on this subject—ranging from the concrete to the whimsical—can profoundly affect how we imagine what is to come. Among the many forward-looking projects on view, visitors to Designs for Different Futures will encounter lab-grown food, robotic companions, family leave policy proposals, and textiles made of seaweed.

Some of these possibilities will come to fruition, while others will remain dreams or even threats,” said Kathryn Hiesinger, the J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700, who coordinated the exhibition in Philadelphia with former assistant curator Michelle Millar Fisher. “We’d like visitors to join us as we present designs that consider the possible, debate the inevitable, and weigh the alternatives. This exhibition explores how design—understood expansively—can help us all grapple with what might be on the horizon and allows our imaginations to take flight.”

Alien Nation: Parade 0,” designed 2017 by Lisa Hartje Moura for HEAD-Genève (Private Collection) Photograph © Head-Genève, Michel Giesbrecht, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

The exhibition is divided into 11 thematic sections. In Resources, visitors will encounter an inflatable pod measuring 15 feet in diameter, part of the work Another Generosity first created in 2018 by Finnish architect Eero Lundén and designed in this incarnation in collaboration with Ron Aasholm and Carmen Lee. The pod slowly expands and contracts in the space, responding to changing levels of carbon dioxide as visitors exhale around it, and provoking questions about the ongoing effect of the human footprint on the environment.

“Svalbard Global Seed Vault,” designed 2008 by Peter W. Søderman, Barlindhaug Consulting (Exhibition display courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation). Photograph courtesy of Global Crop Diversity Trust. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.
Recyclable and Rehealable Electronic Skin,” designed 2018 by Jianliang Xiao and Wei Zhang (Courtesy of the designer). Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

The section titled Generations will explore ways in which the choices we make today may contribute to the well-being or suffering of those who come after us. Here, visitors will find a model of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a repository that stores the world’s largest collection of crop seeds. Located within a mountain on a remote island near the Arctic Circle, the facility is designed to withstand natural or human-made disasters. The Earths section of the exhibition speculates on the challenges of extra-terrestrial communication in Lisa Moura’s Alien Nations installation and showcases typeface from the 2016 science-fiction film Arrival.

“Future Library,” 2014–2114, designed by Katie Paterson (Exhibition display gift of the Future Library Trust, 2018 and purchased with the European Decorative Arts Revolving Fund, 2018). Photograph © Bjørvika Utvikling by Kristin von Hirsch, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

In Bodies, designers grapple with choices about how our physical and psychological selves might look, feel, and function in different future scenarios. Featured here is one of the world’s lightest and most advanced exoskeletons, designed to help people with mobility challenges remain upright and active. Also notable is the CRISPR Kit, an affordable and accessible gene-editing toolbox, which has the potential to revolutionize biomedical research and open opportunities for gene therapy and genetic engineering.

“ZXX Typeface,” designed 2012, by Sang Mun (Courtesy of the designer). Photograph © Sang Mun. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Intimacies is a section that explores how technologies and online interfaces may affect love, family, and community. Here, urban experiences of sex and love are the focus of Andrés Jaque’s Intimate Strangers, an audio-visual installation focusing on the gay dating app. Through internet-enabled devices, designers explore the possibility of digitally mediated love and sex, suggesting what advanced digital networks hold for human sexuality.

Cricket Shelter: Modular Edible Insect Farm,” designed 2016 by Mitchell Joachim (Courtesy of the designer). Photograph © Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Foods contains projects that explore the future of the human diet. Among them is a modular edible-insect farm, Cricket Shelter, by Terreform ONE, which offers a ready source of protein for impending food crises. A kitchen installation suggests how technology and design may contribute to new modes of food production, including an Ouroboros Steak made from human cells.

“Circumventive Organs, Electrostabilis Cardium (film still),” designed 2013 by Agi Haines (Courtesy of the designer). Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Additional sections of the exhibition will focus on the future of Jobs and how Cities will function and look 100 years from now—with robotic baby feeders, driverless cars, and other developments—affording a glimpse at how we might navigate living beyond this planet. Shoes grown from sweat are among the innovations visitors will find in a section devoted to Materials, while Power will look at how design may affect our citizenship and help us retain agency over such essentials as our DNA, our voices, and our electronic communications in a future where the lines between record-keeping, communication, and surveillance blur. Data acknowledges and questions the different ways that information might be collected and used, with all its inherent biases and asymmetries, to shape different futures.

Raising Robotic Natives,” designed 2016 by Stephen Bogner, Philipp Schmitt, and Jonas Voigt (Courtesy of the designers) Photograph © Stephan Bogner, Philipp Schmitt, and Jonas Voigt. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

The curatorial team is comprised of: at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kathryn B. Hiesinger, The J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700, and Michelle Millar Fisher, formerly The Louis C. Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700; At the Walker Art Center, Emmet Byrne, Design Director and Associate Curator of Design; and at the Art Institute of Chicago, Maite Borjabad López-Pastor, Neville Bryan Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design, and Zoë Ryan, the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design. Consulting curators are Andrew Blauvelt, Director, Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Curator-at-Large, Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Colin Fanning, Independent Scholar, Bard Graduate Center, New York; and Orkan Telhan, Associate Professor of Fine Arts (Emerging Design Practices), University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia.

Kathryn B. Hiesinger is the J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her work focuses on decorative arts and design from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and includes the exhibitions and publications Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion (2011), Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates (2001), Japanese Design: A Survey since 1950 (1994) and Design since 1945 (1983).

Michelle Millar Fisher is the Ronald C. and Anita L Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is a graduate of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and is currently completing her doctorate in architectural history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the co-author, with Paola Antonelli, of Items: Is Fashion Modern? (2017).

Emmet Byrne is the Design Director and Associate Curator of Design at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He provides creative leadership and strategic direction for the Walker in all areas of visual communication, branding, publishing, while overseeing the award-winning in-house design studio. He was one of the founders of the Task Newsletter in 2009 and is the creator of the Walker’s Intangibles platform.

Maite Borjabad López-Pastor is the Neville Bryan Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an architect and curator educated at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Columbia University, New York. She is the author and curator of Scenographies of Power: From the State of Exception to the Spaces of Exception (2017). Her work revolves around diverse forms of critical spatial practices, operating across architecture, art, and performance.

Zoë Ryan is the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the editor of As Seen: Exhibitions That Made Architecture and Design History (2017) and curator of In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury (2019) and the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial, The Future is Not What it Used to Be. Her projects explore the impact of architecture and design on society.

Centered on the innovative contemporary design objects, projects, and speculations of the exhibition’s checklist, the accompanying volume proposes design as a means through which to understand, question, and negotiate individual and collective futures, giving provocative voice to the most urgent issues of today. It asks readers to contemplate the design context within broader historical, social, political, and aesthetic spectrums. Designs for Different Futures addresses futures near and far, exploring such issues as human-digital interaction, climate change, political and social inequality, resource scarcity, transportation, and infrastructure.

The primary authors are Kathryn B. Hiesinger, Michelle Millar Fisher, Emmet Byrne, Maite Borjabad López-Pastor, and Zoë Ryan, with Andrew Blauvelt, Colin Fanning, Orkan Telhan, Juliana Rowen Barton, and Maude de Schauensee. Additional contributions include texts by V. Michael Bove Jr. and Nora Jackson, Christina Cogdell, Marina Gorbis, Srećko Horvat, Bruno Latour, Marisol LeBrón, Ezio Manzini, Chris Rapley, Danielle Wood, LinYee Yuan, and Emma Yann Zhang; and interviews with Gabriella Coleman, Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin), Aimi Hamraie and Jillian Mercado, Francis Kéré, David Kirby, Helen Kirkum, Alexandra Midal, Neri Oxman, and Eyal Weizman.

Designs for Different Futures will be distributed by Yale University Press. The book was overseen by Philadelphia Museum of Art publishing director Katie Reilly and editors Katie Brennan and Kathleen Krattenmaker. It is designed by Ryan Gerald Nelson, Senior Graphic Designer at the Walker Art Center, under the direction of Walker design director Emmet Byrne.

Futures Therapy Lab

As part of the exhibition, visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries will also encounter a space for community meetups, public programs, school visits, and self-directed activities. The Futures Therapy Lab will weave personal connections between visitors and the exhibition as part of a collaboration between the museum’s Education Department and the curatorial team. Weekly programs, many of which will occur on Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights, will connect visitors with designers, artists, and locally based creatives. The Futures Therapy Lab will contain a crowdsourced Futures Library that includes everything from science-fiction books to the exhibition catalogue. “Thinking about possible futures is both exhilarating and anxiety-provoking,” said Emily Schreiner, the Zoë and Dean Pappas Curator of Education, Public Programs. “The Futures Therapy Lab is a place for conversation, critique, and creativity in which visitors can imagine their own hopes, fears and solutions for the future through reflection, discussion, and art making.”

View Full Schedule of Related Public Programs

In Philadelphia, this exhibition is generously supported by the Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, the Kathleen C. and John J.F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer in Honor of Collab’s 50th Anniversary, the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, the Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, and an anonymous donor.

Related Programs

The Futures Therapy Lab will host a series of weekly happenings:

Artists in the Lab

Artists and designers share their work through talks, demonstrations, and workshops. Wednesday Nights, 5:00–8:45 p.m.

The Designer is In

Talk it out. One-on-one sessions with local designers offer new perspectives on your everyday life. Thursdays & Saturdays, 2:00–4:00 p.m.

Sci-Fi Sundays

Drop-in readings that explore narratives of the future. Select Sundays, 2:00–3:00pm

Philadelphia Museum of Art to Present Celebrated Film Trilogy and New Performance by Artist Yael Bartana

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will premiere Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!, a new site-specific public performance by acclaimed Israeli-born artist Yael Bartana. Scheduled to take place on September 22, 2018 (through to January 1, 2019) at the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, this performance will be presented as part of a solo exhibition at the Museum dedicated to the artist’s provocative film trilogy, And Europe Will Be Stunned (2007-2011). Marking its Philadelphia debut, this trilogy will be an immersive installation in the Joan Spain Gallery of the Museum’s Perelman Building.

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Portrait of Yael Bartana. Photo by Birgit Kaulfuss. Image courtesy of the artist and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018.

Born in 1970 in Kfar Yehezkel, Israel, Yael Bartana lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam. In her films, installations, and photographs, Bartana investigates the ideas of homeland, return, and belonging, often in ceremonies, memorials, public rituals, and actions that are intended to reaffirm and question collective identities and ideas of the nation or the state.

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Image from “Zamach (Assassination),” 2011, by Yael Bartana. From the trilogy “And Europe Will Be Stunned.” (Collection of both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; purchased by the PMA with funds contributed by Nancy M. Berman and Alan Bloch and the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, and the Committee on Modern and Contemporary Art; and purchased by the WAC, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2013). Image courtesy of the artist and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018.

Taking the complex history of Jewish-Polish identity as its point of departure, And Europe Will Be Stunned addresses the themes of nationhood, memory, and belonging that are integral to Bartana’s work. It first debuted at the Venice Biennale in 2011, where Bartana represented Poland. Shortly thereafter, the trilogy was jointly acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Employing a visual vocabulary reminiscent of Stalinist and Zionist propaganda of the early 20th century, And Europe Will be Stunned chronicles the radical program of a fictional political movement called the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP). Created by Bartana, together with Polish activist Sławomir Sierakowski, the JRMiP advocates for the return of over three million Jews to their forgotten Polish homeland. Informed by the histories of the Israeli settlement movement, Zionism, anti-Semitism, and the Palestinian right of return, the trilogy uses the real and the imagined to speak to global complexities about identity and self-determination in an increasingly unstable world.

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Still from “Mur i wieża (Wall and Tower),” 2009, by Yael Bartana. From the trilogy “And Europe Will Be Stunned.” (Collection of both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; purchased by the PMA with funds contributed by Nancy M. Berman and Alan Bloch and the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, and the Committee on Modern and Contemporary Art; and purchased by the WAC, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2013). Image courtesy of the artist and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018.

Beyond the walls of the Philadelphia Museum, Bartana will realize Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies! as a means of extending the themes of the artist’s trilogy into the birthplace of American democracy – Philadelphia. Bartana’s performance is a call to action, aiming to make visible the systems of violence and displacement that have been perpetuated through weapons, both literal and symbolic. As the title suggests, the performance will bury these weapons, rendering them useless, as they are incorporated into a choreographed funeral—a living monument—that will include a staged procession and a collective eulogy about war and survival. The movements of the performers are inspired by those of Israeli artist and dance composer Noa Eshkol (1924-2007), specifically evoking Eshkol’s 1953 memorial assembly performed in remembrance to the Holocaust. Bringing together funerary tradition, military ritual, and personal testimony, Bartana’s new performance will deepen the artist’s investigations into the construction of memory and the aesthetics of national identity.

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Still from “Mary Koszmary (Nightmares),” 2007, by Yael Bartana. From the trilogy “And Europe Will Be Stunned.” (Collection of both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; purchased by the PMA with funds contributed by Nancy M. Berman and Alan Bloch and the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, and the Committee on Modern and Contemporary Art; and purchased by the WAC, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2013). Image courtesy of the artist and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018.

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“Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal” at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal, (November 11, 2018 – March 3, 2019, Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor) an exhibition starring four extraordinary dolls and their extravagant wardrobes. Known as Miss Fanchon, Miss G. Townsend, Miss French Mary, and Marie Antoinette, they were made in France in the 1860s and 1870s. The ultimate toys for privileged girls of this period, these dolls reflected the world of adult fashion, being fully equipped with miniature versions of the myriad garments, accessories, and other personal possessions of a well-to-do Victorian lady. As models of womanhood, these fashion dolls represented Victorian culture, when most believed that the aim of a girl’s life was to marry and raise children, and women were exhorted to dress well, follow the strictures of contemporary etiquette, and excel in their proper sphere of domestic and social duties.

The dolls, which measure between 18 to 22 inches in height and have painted bisque heads, leather bodies, and hair wigs, come with tiny accouterments that are notable for their number, detail, and variety. Miss Fanchon’s trunk, for example, contains over 150 objects, including eighteen dresses, and her gloves, which measure just over two inches tall, have all the features of full-size gloves, including gussets, points, and button closures.

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Three doll dresses from Miss Fanchon’s wardrobe, late 1860s-1870s, possibly France. Gift of Gardner H. Nicholas in memory of Mrs. Gardner H. Nicholas, 1922-58-9a—c, 14a,b,3.

The dolls are furnished with dresses for every occasion, from housework to fancy social events, as well as undergarments (chemises, drawers, petticoats, corsets, hoop skirts, bustles, and even tiny dress shields), outerwear, and accessories including bonnets, hair ornaments, jewelry, fans, and footwear.

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Miss Fanchon’s Gloves, late 1860s-1870s, France. Gift of Gardner H. Nicholas in memory of Mrs. Gardner H. Nicholas, 1922-58-109a,b. Doll’s Handbag, late 1860s-1870s, France. Gift of Mrs. William Hill Steeble and Martha B. Newkirk in memory of their mother, Mrs. I. Roberts Newkirk, 1977-189-4aa.

In addition to personal care items such as a toothbrushes, combs, and mirrors, two dolls are provided with clothes hangers (not yet common in full-size households), while the plethora of other objects includes tiny books, visiting cards, a photo album, sewing kit, sheet music, writing set, alarm clock, newspaper, opera glasses, and even roller skates.

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Doll’s Sewing Equipment, late 1860s-1870s, France. Gift of Edward Starr, Jr., 1976-58- 9Ah1-7 and Gift of Mrs. William Hill Steeble and Martha B. Newkirk in memory of their mother, Mrs. I. Roberts Newkirk, 1977-189-4y.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art To Exhibit Agnes Martin Works From The Daniel W. Dietrich II Collection

This spring, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present, “Agnes Martin: The Untroubled Mind” (Gallery 174) on view May 19-October 14, 2018, an intimately scaled installation featuring four paintings by Agnes Martin from the bequest of the late philanthropist, Daniel W. Dietrich II, a crucial supporter of the artist’s career. Three of these paintings date to the mid-1960s, and the fourth to 1985. They will be exhibited with additional works on paper and sculpture that Dietrich collected. This installation will explore the ideas that inform Martin’s minimalist art and reflect upon the enduring friendship that existed between a major artist and her patron.

Hill, 1967, by Agnes Martin

Hill, 1967, by Agnes Martin, American (born Canada), 1912 – 2004. Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 6 feet × 6 feet (182.9 × 182.9 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Daniel W. Dietrich II, 2016-3-20. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Dan was a generous philanthropist and an admirer and avid collector of Martin’s work. He supported her first major mid-career retrospective in 1973 at the Institute of Contemporary Art here in Philadelphia. From that seminal moment onward, he continued to champion her work and added superb examples to his private collection. This installation provides a unique opportunity to understand the nature of Martin’s contribution to contemporary art and to understand how aspects of Dietrich’s transformative gift fit so well into our collection.”

Leaf, 1965, Agnes Martin

Leaf, 1965, Agnes Martin, American (born Canada), 1912 – 2004. Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 6 feet × 6 feet (182.9 × 182.9 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Daniel W. Dietrich II, 2016-3-21. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Play II, 1966, by Agnes Martin

Play II, 1966, by Agnes Martin, American (born Canada), 1912 – 2004. Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 6 feet × 6 feet (182.9 × 182.9 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Daniel W. Dietrich II, 2016-3-22. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Martin created each of the paintings that will be on view—Leaf (1965), Play II (1966), Hill (1967) and Untitled #6 (1985)— using acrylic paint and graphite. These works, each six-feet square, will be complemented in the installation by another painting in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rose (1965), a centennial gift of the Woodward Foundation in 1975, of the same medium and size. Continue reading

Philadelphia Museum of Art to Present New Work by Rachel Rose

Philadelphia Museum of Art Presents a New Work by Rachel Rose, On View May 2 through August 18, 2018

Rose is the Inaugural Recipient of The Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media Grant

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present a new video installation by Rachel Rose, the inaugural recipient of the Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media, which has been jointly awarded to the artist by the Museum and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. A project under development for nearly two years, this commission represents the most ambitiously scaled production in the artist’s career to date, leading to the creation of a work that will enter the collections of these two institutions. Titled Wil-o-Wisp, Rose’s work will be on view from May 2 through August 18, 2018, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It will then travel to the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy, where it will open in November.

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Production image from Wil-o-Wisp, 2018, by Rachel Rose (Jointly owned and commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Funding is made possible for the Philadelphia Museum of Art through the Contemporary Art Revolving Fund). Photo by Nancy Green, on-site at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, 2017.

Timothy Rub, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “Seeing this project evolve since the awarding of the commission has been deeply gratifying. It demonstrates just how vital it is for institutions like ours to support emerging talent at precisely the time when such support is needed. This collaboration with our partners in Turin has also provided a wonderful opportunity to expand and strengthen our engagement with contemporary art.”

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Production image from Wil-o-Wisp, 2018, by Rachel Rose (Jointly owned and commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Funding is made possible for the Philadelphia Museum of Art through the Contemporary Art Revolving Fund). Photo by Nancy Green, on-site at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, 2017.

In 2016, the two esteemed arts and culture organizations established the Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media as a collaborative initiative to jointly commission and acquire new work by artists from around the world who are active in video, film, performance, and sound. The Commission supports the creation and production of a new work every two years that will be presented at both the Museum and the Fondazione. With its unique focus and its commitment to the joint acquisition of the works produced with the support of this initiative, the commission aims to give unprecedented opportunities to international artists who are exploring new territory in these experimental modes of contemporary art. Rachel Rose is the inaugural recipient.

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Production image from Wil-o-Wisp, 2018, by Rachel Rose (Jointly owned and commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Funding is made possible for the Philadelphia Museum of Art through the Contemporary Art Revolving Fund). Photo by Nancy Green, on-site at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, 2017.

Rachel Rose has emerged as an important voice in contemporary video, widely recognized for her deft digital editing that aligns disparate visual images and historical references. This new commission has provided her with an opportunity to widen the scope of her interests by investigating narrative devices and story-telling. In Wil-o-Wisp, the artist has directed a live action video in which a woman’s fate becomes inextricably tied to moments of upheaval, suspicion, and persecution in 16th century agrarian England, a time during which the Enclosure Movement led to the privatization of land throughout the country. The video follows various vignettes of Elspeth’s life, cycling between familial moments and tragedy, the practice of magic and her persecution.PMAhorizontal

Rose strings dramatic moments together with temporal shifts, varying rhythms, an emotive score, and carefully constructed visual effects. The work reflects upon the harsh realities of English rural life during a time of a rising culture of suspicion in which women, such as Elspeth, engaging in nontraditional healing practices were often seen as threatening to an increasingly regulated society. The title of the work, Wil-o-Wisp, refers to ghostly lights that could be seen hovering at night over bogs and marshes and that, in folklore, could have the sinister effect of leading people astray. In Rose’s work, the title speaks to the characters whose paths are determined both by willful choices and the power of coincidence.

Directing a cast and crew of about thirty people, Rose shot the work at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, that offered a period setting of houses in an English vernacular style and an austere winter landscape. Working with both trained and street-cast actors, as well as Plimoth Plantation guides, Rose both utilized the character of the site and added to it, creating her own imagined world within this setting. From costumes to set decorations, Rose combined period and contemporary materials.

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Production image from Wil-o-Wisp, 2018, by Rachel Rose (Jointly owned and commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Funding is made possible for the Philadelphia Museum of Art through the Contemporary Art Revolving Fund). Photo by Nancy Green, on-site at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, 2017.

Rose’s video is characterized as much by her intensive approach to post-production as by the attention she gives to the script and on-set staging. After filming the work in Plimoth, she added components such as a narrative sung by an ethereal voice in iambic pentameter. Orchestral and electronical scores serve to gather momentum and produce an emotional effect. Animals and people generate ghostly doubles, and a bright green moss seems to take over the barren landscape. In this work, Rose also continues her use of Medieval marginalia: drawn characters that populated Medieval manuscripts are here collaged to form words announcing certain protagonists and moments within the larger narrative. These elements coalesce with the depicted dramatic events to create a world in which the circumstance of history meets the coincidence and magic of fate.

Installed as a single-channel video and approximately ten minutes in length, Wil-o-Wisp will fill a large gallery that will include an eighteen-foot widescreen. It will be framed within an environment which is currently under development by the artist.

Erica Battle, The John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, said: “While Rachel Rose’s carefully woven narrative is set in the past, it speaks to larger themes and concerns that are relevant to our world today. Wil-o-Wisp reflects the inescapable feeling that history is cyclical.”

Rachel Rose (American, born 1986) creates video installations that combine video, sound, and architectural elements. She has had solo exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2017), the Aspen Art Museum (2016), the Museu Serralves in Porto, Lisbon (2016), the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London (2015), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (2015). She was the recipient of the Frieze Artist Award (2015), and her work is collected by prominent institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; LUMA Foundation, Arles; Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris; Ishikawa Foundation; Tate, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Rose received a BA from Yale University, New Haven, as well as an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and an MFA from Columbia University, New York. Continue reading

Philadelphia Museum of Art to Renovate and Update Chinese Galleries

Six Galleries to Close on April 11, 2018, Reopening in Early 2019

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will soon begin the first comprehensive renovation and reinstallation of its galleries of Chinese art in many decades. This initiative will enable its staff to reimagine the presentation of this important part of the Museum’s collection and interpret it in new ways for the benefit of visitors. This represents the next step in an ongoing series of reinstallations of the Museum’s collection that began with the Rodin Museum in 2012 and continued with the renovation of its galleries of South Asian art in 2016. Beginning April 11, 2018, six galleries in the wing of the Museum devoted to Asian art will close for approximately ten months and then re-open to the public in early 2019.

Philadelphia Museum of Art logo

Philadelphia Museum of Art logo

The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses one of the country’s earliest Chinese art collections, initially established through purchases made at the Centennial International Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. Today it includes more than 7000 works in a wide range of media spanning more than 4000 years. Strengths include Tang dynasty (618–907) tomb figures, Song dynasty (960–1127) ceramics as well as Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasty (1644–1911) imperial art and Buddhist sculpture. The collection includes more than 500 paintings, dating from the 12th to the 20th centuries, as well as costumes and textiles, furniture, jades, lacquer wares, and cloisonné. It also features three remarkable architectural interiors: an early 15th-century coffered ceiling from an imperial Buddhist temple, a 17th century painted wood reception hall, and an 18th-century scholar’s study that provides context for the collection and an exceptional immersive experience.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director, and Chief Executive Officer, said: “This once-in-a-generation project follows the success of our new galleries of South Asian art, and is proceeding in tandem with the implementation of the next phase of our Facilities Master Plan. It will transform the experience of one of the most important, but still underappreciated parts of our collection. In addition to renovating these galleries, a step that is long overdue, this project will enable us to re-present and reinterpret our extensive holdings of Chinese art for the benefit of our visitors and will also serve as the basis for a new, purpose-built curriculum taught by our educators. These efforts will create relevance, deepen understanding, and renew our visitors’ appreciation for different cultures and artistic traditions around the world.”

A $2 million initiative, this project on the second floor of the main building will promote improved visitor engagement with Chinese art through the implementation of significant physical improvements, including new gallery furniture and the creation of better sight lines. Select windows will be enclosed, improving conditions for the display of light-sensitive textiles and paintings not previously exhibitable in these galleries, while new lighting will enhance the viewing experience. The Museum’s exhibition team is designing purpose-built casework, some equipped with internal lighting that will dramatically improve viewing clarity. These changes will allow for greater flexibility in the rotations of works of art, giving curators the opportunity to regularly refresh the installations and offering returning visitors new works to experience. The project will also benefit from a multi-year study of interpretation strategies, including the development of new learning resources and training, for teacher workshops and new school visits.

Reinstallation

The reinstallation is led by project director Dr. Hiromi Kinoshita, The Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Associate Curator of Chinese Art, supported by staff specialized in Exhibition Design, Education, and Publishing. Dr. Kinoshita’s interpretive plan is arranged around key themes through which four thousand years of art can be understood. It will present a new comprehensive display of Chinese art in all media, including paintings, sculpture, porcelains, ceramics, carvings, metalwork, costume and textiles, furniture, and contemporary works. Continue reading

First US Solo Exhibition Devoted To The Work of Patricia Urquiola

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present Patricia Urquiola: Between Craft and Industry, November 19, 2017 – March 4, 2018, in the Alter Gallery 176, the first solo exhibition devoted to the work of this internationally acclaimed designer. The exhibition will showcase her versatility in creating products, interiors, and architectural spaces. On November 18, Urquiola will be honored with the Design Excellence Award by Collab, the Museum’s affiliate group for modern and contemporary design.pma_title_horz

(Each year, Collab presents the Design Excellence Award to a design professional or manufacturer whose impact on the field is inspirational. Past recipients have included Rolf Fehlbaum, Marc Newson, Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Alberto Alessi, Marcel Wanders, and Frank O. Gehry.)

Patricia Urquiola. Image by GAN, 2017.

Patricia Urquiola. Image by GAN, 2017.

Curious and energetic by nature, Urquiola moves with ease between product design, interior design, and architecture—whether designing handbags that convert into stools for Louis Vuitton, dinnerware for Rosenthal, or the recently opened Il Sereno Hotel on the shore of Lake Como in Italy.

Photograph of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barcelona, Spain. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Designed in 2010. (2)

Photograph of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barcelona, Spain. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Designed in 2010.

Photograph of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barcelona, Spain. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Designed in 2010.

Photograph of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barcelona, Spain. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Designed in 2010.

Patricia Urquiola is one of the most influential designers in the world today. Born in Oviedo, Spain, and trained as an architect in Madrid, Urquiola graduated from the Politecnico di Milano, where she studied with Achille Castiglioni, one of the foremost lighting designers of the second half of the twentieth century. She opened a studio in Milan in 2001 and since that time has collaborated with dozens of manufacturers throughout the world, including Alessi, B&B Italia, Flos, Kartell, Moroso, and most recently the American firm of Haworth. In September 2015, Urquiola was appointed Art Director of the iconic Italian company Cassina. She has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards including the Order of Isabella the Catholic, presented by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

Platter from the Landscape Tea Service. Designed by Patricia Urquiola in 2008. Made by Rosenthal AG, Selb, Germany. Porcelain. Gift of Rosenthal AG, 2008

Platter from the Landscape Tea Service. Designed by Patricia Urquiola in 2008. Made by Rosenthal AG, Selb, Germany. Porcelain. Gift of Rosenthal AG, 2008

Urquiola’s work often fuses traditional modes of production with modern design. Her “Fjord” armchair is a rethinking of a mid-twentieth-century Nordic chair, just as the “Landscape” tea set manufactured by Rosenthal is a new spin on a traditional object. Her colorful rugs that she designed in Spain are woven in workshops in India. She brings the handmade aspect of the classic rattan chair of the Philippines to her “Crinoline” chair design.

Urquiola is part of a new generation of designers who take a humanistic approach to their work,” said Donna Corbin, The Louis C. Madeira IV Associate Curator of European Decorative Art. “She is known for exploring the possibilities of the artisanal through new technologies, to achieve something that feels familiar and evokes a sense of comfort.

Among her most recent work on view is “Openest,” an innovative office system that is emblematic of her interest in prioritizing comfort. It was designed for Haworth offices in Michigan and was named “Best of” in the NeoCon Competition in 2014. Also featured in the form of photographs will be a number of Urquiola’s architectural commissions, including the award-winning 2005 Ideal House project, shown at the IMM Cologne international furnishings show in Germany, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona, Spain.

'Serena' Table Lamp. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Made by Flos S.p.A., Brescia, Italy. Designed in 2015. Aluminum, polycarbonate. Flos USA

“Serena” Table Lamp. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Made by Flos S.p.A., Brescia, Italy. Designed in 2015. Aluminum, polycarbonate. Flos USA

Collab is a group of design professionals and enthusiasts who support modern and contemporary design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Its members experience design year-round through exhibition previews, design-inspired field trips, special access to the Museum’s world-class design collection, lectures, and opportunities to meet and learn from design curators and visionaries.

In conjunction with the exhibition, this year’s Collab Student Design Competition will challenge students at colleges and universities to create an object inspired by Urquiola’s exhibition. The goal is to design a piece of storage furniture or another functional object that can be the focal point of a room. On Monday, November 13, a panel of judges drawn from the region’s professional design community will gather at the Museum to identify the most innovative entries. The designs will be placed on display at the Museum through November 15, and visitors can cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. Winners will be presented at the Collab Design Excellence Award lecture on Saturday, November 18.

This exhibition is made possible by Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer, Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust, and Haworth. Additional support is provided by Collab and other generous sponsors. The Student Design Competition is generously sponsored by Publicis Health Media.