A continuously updated calendar of museum exhibitions — New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and other U.S. cities. If you’re a fan of 19th and 20th century art, design and photography, this couldn’t be a better time to see stunning exhibitions: the centennial of the landmark 1913 Armory Show – Matisse, Duchamp, Picabia and more — tantalizing shows of Kandinsky, Magritte, Chagall,and Leger set in the modernity of Paris.
Cast a wider net and there are medieval treasures from Hildesheim Cathedral (Germany) and 15 masterpieces on loan from The Mauritshuis in The Hague, including Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
For photography connoisseurs, there’s a trio of must-see shows in New York: early portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron; documentary images of defining times at home and abroad, are revealed in a double-header of Lewis Hine’s New Deal photographs and War/Photography, images of 155 years of conflict. In Washington D.C., check out photographic portraits by Yousuf Karsh and Charles Marville’s 19th-century views of Paris, some commissioned by Barron Haussmann before he tore down the medieval sections of the city
Elsewhere ? There’s a gaggle of other good shows and installations in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. For a calendar of exhibitions in Europe Click here
TITLES IN BLUE (below) are recently added exhibitions.
NEW YORK CITY
Through Mar 2 2014 Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company 1932-47, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two hugely important glass shows this year, Murano in Paris, and now the work of Venini’s creative director who, according to the show’s curator Marino Barovier, “…brought the tradition of Murano glass into the modern era…rich in energy and saturated with a surprisingly contemporary taste.” Check out the examples online
Through Jan 5 2014 Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a single room with 50 exquisitely made objects, many of them jewel-encrusted or covered in gold. Some are intimately devotional (a book of hours meant to be used daily), others inspirational (reliquaries with bones), some liturgical (chalices) or powerful reminders of mortal life (memento mori). In one instance, a large reliquary holds the head of the martyred St. Oswald. This is an exhibition to take time with and look carefully. The works are on loan from the Hildesheim Cathedral Museum – a renovation at the cathedral (it was leveled during WWII and then reconstructed) created the opportunity for the show. Review includes slide show. Met web site
Through Jan 12 2014 Balthus: Cats and Girls — Paintings and Provocations, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Balthus had a “thing” for cats and girls, though not necessarily in that order. Born Balthasar Klossowski (1908-2001), the artist may be best known for his portraits of nubile adolescent girls, but there’s another show-stopper in this exhibition: 40 ink drawings never exhibited before of his beloved cat Mitsou, executed at age 11 when he was reeling from the loss of the stray who came on the scene when he was 10 and then disappeared. Although these diminutive ink drawings were believed to be lost, they were located among the effects of poet Rainer Maria Rilke (a friend of Balthus’s mother) who organized the works into a little book and wrote its introduction. Decide for yourself which strand of his work you find more compelling. Review includes slide show.
Through Jan 12, 2014 Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938, at the Museum of Modern Art. (Then on to Menil Collection, Houston, Feb 14-June 1, and the Art Institute of Chicago, June 22-Oct 12.) Art reviewer Holland Cotter says that Rene Magritte had a unique place in the artworld: “… an attention-grabber with one gift, but a crucial one: for puzzle-making.” This exhibition looks at a particularly good decade in his art-making life, says Cotter, when “he was inventing the artist he wanted to be and when his art was all over the place in a good way: witty, nasty, brilliant and bad at the same time.” The Belgian artist had his first solo show in Brussels in 1927 (a painting from that exhibition is in the MoMA show), already traveling in Surrealist circles. He fell in with Surrealists in Paris and then suffered a falling out with Surrealist team leader Andre Breton. But it was time well spent in doing some of his best work. Magritte’s paintings inhabit an illogical, hallucinatory space that intrigues many. Read the review
Through Jan 19 2014 Mauritshuis at The Frick: 15 world-class paintings on loan from the magisterial museum in The Hague includes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. PLUS a contemporary still life by British artists Robert and Nick Carter is actually a three-hour film in which the celebrated 1618 painting changes almost imperceptibly, a contemporary homage titled, Transforming Still Life: After Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, ‘ Vase with Flowers in a Window.’ My money’s on the Girl with a Pearl Earring as the show-stopper! Details
Through Feb 10 2014 Vasily Kandinsky: From Blaue Reiter to the Bauhaus, 1910-1925, at the Neue Galerie. It’s been called “a boutique Kandinsky exhibition at a boutique museum,” which if you missed the full-scale retrospective at the Guggenheim three years ago, will be more than adequate to satisfy your desire to see how he morphed from the expressionism of the Blaue Reiter artistic group in Munich (Blue Rider) into abstraction — including a transition from easel painting to set design and decorative murals. This show includes an impressive array of loans from the Walker Art Center, MoMA, Fondation Beyeler in Basel, and Yale University; as well as the recreation of a now-lost commission for an octagonal museum space that was exhibited in 1927 but eventually lost; reproduced at Neue Galerie thanks to an historical set of photographs. Review Web site with images
Through Feb 23 2014 The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution, at the New-York Historical Society features a selection of 100 works from the original International Exhibition of Modern Art, which, in 1913, set the art world in the U.S. on its head. Mostly the Armory Show is recalled for the European firebrands who participated: Duchamp is here with Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), along with Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Picabia and Odilon Redon, among others. But half were actually American artists! So you will find fine examples of Impressionist landscapes by Childe Hassam, and works by Robert Henri (The group known as The Eight), Charles Sheeler and Marsden Hartley. Whether or not you go, the catalogue is wonderfully impressive with essays that reconstruct the shock and agitation of the moment, along with discussion of the long-term impact of how it transformed twentieth-century art. Review
Through December 2014 Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, at the Brooklyn Museum. This long-term exhibition is a carefully selected group of 30 objects depicting cats from the museum’s exceptional Egyptian collections, tame or feral, mortal or godlike. The Egptians were likely the first to domesticate cats, which were revered as fertility symbols. Perhaps the most important among them was Sakhmet, personal guardian of the solar deity Re – usually with a lion’s head and woman’s body. The cult of the feline-goddess Bast (or Bastet) is depicted here as a mother cat nursing her kittens. Not all practices were benign. There’s some evidence that kittens were routinely killed (necks snapped) and their bodies inserted into shrines acquired by pilgrims. Review includes slides . Brooklyn Museum web site
Through Feb 2 2014 Chagall: Love, War, and Exile, The Jewish Museum. It’s not a large show but the first that explore Marc Chagall’s artistic oeuvre from the rise of fascism in the 1930s through 1948, years spent in Paris and then in exile in New York. Chagall (1887-19865) moved to Paris from Russia to escape the hardships following the revolution, and settled into life in Paris with wife Bella and daughter Ida. With the rise of fascism and then World War II, Chagall and family fled to New York in 1941, with assistance from Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art. “Although he never abandoned a poetic sensibility, his art of the 1930s and 1940s reflects the political reality of the time. “The sudden loss of his wife Bella left Chagall unmoored, from which he eventually recovered. But Chagall never inhabited fully his new life in New York, and returned again and again to create art from memories of his childhood and of the Bolshevik Revolution. The exhibition includes 30 paintings and 24 works on paper, as well as selected letters, poems, photos, and ephemera. The Jewish Museum and Yale University Press are co-publishing a 148-page catalogue that examines Chagall’s complex iconography and phantasmagorical style, 72 color reproductions, 27 black and white illustrations, and 11 of Chagall’s rarely seen poems. Review
Chagall’s granddaughters tell his story (New York Times)
Through Jan 5,2014 Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade 1500-1800, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(Left) Palampore, first quarter of the 18th century Culture: India (Coromandel Coast), for the Sri Lankan market. Medium: Cotton (painted resist and mordant, dyed). Metropolitan Museum of Art, rights reserved.
It’s a feast for the eyes, a history lesson and a take on three centuries of taste, trade and commerce. The Met has assembled 130 textiles plus 30 garments (and prints/books), mostly from its own collections. The show is described by a New York Times critic as “knock your socks off,” “drop dead moments,” and “tour de force.” –probably no exaggeration. Consider the robe a la Polonaise, which is architectural endeavor in its layers of bustle; or the mid-18th-century palampore (originally a bed or wall hanging) of bright silk on gold cotton sewed with ultra-tiny stitches. The trade (like today’s “to the trade only”) was lavish, but there are plenty of reminders of the slave trade and clashes between colonials and indigenous people. If you cannot get there, the catalogue is surely worth it ! New York Times review
Through Jan 5 2014 Whales: Giants of the Deep, at theAmerican Museum of Natural History. Did you know that whales evolved from deer-like land creatures into the largest mammals inhabiting the planet? This traveling exhibition from New Zealand features 20 whale skulls and skeletons; and outlines the history and biology of these amazing creatures. “Sniff here, too, at a chunk of ambergris, ‘gray amber,’ once used in the ancient Middle East as a spice and incense, and later as a fixative for perfumes.” Perhaps more significant is that this immersive exhibition reconstructs the human relationship with mammals, from Maori whale riding to –sadly—whalehunting, a practice that continues today. “ ‘At the peak of U.S. whaling, in 1853,’ we learn, ‘Americans killed more than 8,000 whales.’ But in the 20th century, about 350,000 blue whales were killed by the whale trade, leaving only about 2,000 alive. ‘It was estimated,’ we read, ‘that Japanese, Danish, British, Dutch and Soviet Russian fleets collectively killed a fifth of the whales in the Southern Ocean in the 1957-58 season alone.'” New York Times story
Must-See Photography Shows in New York
Through Jan 5 2013 Julia Margaret Cameron, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thirty-five works from the Metropolitan’s rich collection show Cameron’s skill as a seminal figure in photography and her extraordinary ability as a portraitist in the pre-Raphaelite Victorian era. Calcutta-born (1815-1879), Cameron was 46 when she received her first camera –a gift from her daughter and son-in-law. Clearly, it was a beautiful fit. “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” she wrote, “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.” Keep in mind that Cameron worked in the era of glass plate negatives that required long exposures and absolute stillness by the sitters. She allowed soft light and sitters’ small movements that the Met’s curator feels give life and breath to her portraits. Details
Above: (Alfred, Lord) Tennyson Reading 1865, Julia Margaret Cameron. Albumen silver print from glass negative. Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1941
Through Jan 19 2014 Lewis Hine and The Future of America, at the International Center of Photography. It’s a double bill at the ICP, with two shows of pioneering documentarian Lewis Hine (1874-1940). The larger show (Lewis Hine) contains 175 mostly postcard-size prints from the collections of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography representing all phases of his career. The Future of America is smaller and focuses mostly on agricultural, manufacturing and mining activities in the mid-1930’s. Hine captured a wide range of subjects – immigrants, child labor, Lower East side tenements, men at work building skyscrapers. Not everything he produced could be reliably considered photojournalism (he sometimes dressed people up in different costumes!) – before stricter standards were attached. (View sampler of images) The show’s reviewer says his work was “more a kind of illustrated sociology than photojournalism.” But make no mistake: Hine’s visual body of work represents times, places and people that might otherwise have been forgotten or reduced to shadows in our national memory. Read the review. Visit the museum web site.
Through February 2 2014 WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, at the Brooklyn Museum. Iconic and unknown images, the photographers and amateurs or military men who shot them, come together in an exhibition that looks at the relationship between war and photography over 166 years of armed combat. It presents the work of some 255 photographers worldwide who captured daily life, battle, death and destruction, homecoming and remembrance in an unprecedented assemblage of photographic prints, books, magazines, albums, and camera equipment. Take the time in this show to look carefully, from the Crimean War (Roger Fenton, 1855) to eastern Afghanistan (Tim Hetherington) — and ask, why can’t we wage peace ? Details .
(Left): Henri Huet (French, 1927–1971). The body of an American paratrooper killed in action in the jungle near the Cambodian border is raised up to an evacuation helicopter, Vietnam, 1966. © Associated Press
Through Jan 5, 2014 Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis at the Philadelphia Museum of Art focuses on the post-World War I decade in Paris, the city to which Fernand Léger (1881-1955) returned with enthusiasm and high energy for all things modern. The show could be called an ode to Paris and its modernity – chocked full of street life, design, architecture and advertising. Here’s a chance to see a particular slice of Paris in time and art. There are many artists here, not just Léger, although his work may safely be called the standout, and it covers an amazing range of media, including film, stage design, ballet production, ads, posters and printed material. Read the review and you won’t hesitate to go. Review includes slide show
Through Dec 13 Remnants of Everyday Life: Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home, at The Library Company of Philadelphia. In this show you step back in time and look at the fruits of mass production in a wide array of ephemera from the 18th to early 20th century– playbills, fliers, postcards, trade cards, tickets, menus, World’s Fair souvenirs, labels, stereographs, albums, scrapbooks, paper dolls and toys and games, and advertisements. Check out the 1828 Victorian-era paper bags, including the-then novel “Square Bag” patented in 1872, and one of the first illustrated circus posters. The Library Company is a treasure trove, one of the largest, most important, and most varied collections of early American ephemera in existence. Details
Through Jan 5, 2014 Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris, National Gallery of Art: 100 photographs covering the arc of Charles Marville’s career (1813-1879) are assembled for the first retrospective exhibition in the US (it will travel to New York too.) City scenes, landscape and architectural studies of Europe are presented, but especially notable, his photographs of Paris and environs in the 1870’s. Named official photographer of the city of Paris in 1862, Marville was commissioned in 1865 to record the streets and buildings that the urban planner Baron Haussmann had slated for destruction. Today we may long for the pre-modern Paris, but Haussmann’s purpose was prosaic – to document how unsanitary and cramped the medieval areas were before tearing them down. (Travels to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jan 27–May 4, 2014). Exhibition details
Through Jul 13 2014 Dancing the Dream, National Portrait Gallery. Elegant, timeless, urbane – that’s what we think when we see images of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. This exhibition showcases generations of performers, choreographers and impresarios. The show will include images of performers: Michael Jackson, Savion Glover, George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Beyoncé, Isadora Duncan, Agnes de Mille and Lady Gaga. This exhibition “explores the relationship between the art of dance and the evolution of a modern American identity.
Through Mar 9 2014 Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment. Work by 11 women photojournalists on view at the National Geographic’s Museum –from the elegant landscapes of the Mongolian steppes and American West to war-torn battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan; from the last great wildernesses of Africa to the lives of people from the Arctic to the Jersey Shore. For my money, it’s Jody Cobb, who has worked in over 65 countries and produced 30 Nat Geo stories, including including the acclaimed “21st-Century Slaves.” Cobb was the first woman to be named White House Photographer of the Year. Exhibition details
Nov 1- Apr 27 2014 Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. This is a celebration of a major gift to its collection of more than 100 portraits created by renowned photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908–2002), Among the portraits: artist Georgia O’Keeffe, physician and virologist Jonas Salk, singer Marian Anderson, actress Grace Kelly, businesswoman Elizabeth Arden, architect I. M. Pei and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.It is the museum’s first exhibition devoted entirely to the work of the internationally recognized portrait photographer. (The second installment: May 2 to Nov. 2, 2014. )
Through Dec 8 Cloud Terrace, Dumbarton Oaks: A temporary installation, it is a wire framework on poles that suspends 10,000 Swarovski lead-crystal pendants over a garden patio. Don’t be fooled – this work by artistic partners Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot is dazzling – transformed by light, time of day, and weather conditions. An academic and public outpost of Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks’ horticultural fame is two-part – a fabulous library/archive and a world-class garden designed in the 1920’s by Beatrix Farrand.
NPR interview with John Beardsley, exhibition curator.
Through Jan 5 2014 Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, National Museum of African Art (SI). This is a sleeper of a show – just stunning if you judge by the online gallery of photographs and art works in the show. Looking through the lens of Africa, Earth Matters focuses on the very creative and visual ways in which individuals and communities negotiate complex relationships with the land beneath their feet and the earth at large. Forty artists from 24 of Africa’s 55 nations have employed media as diverse as ceramic, textile, film, drawing, printmaking, photography, wood, and mixed-media sculpture and installations (100 pieces in all) to explore the land for inspiration. The items date back as far as 1800. One section of the exhibition features three commissioned earthworks, a first for the Smithsonian Gardens and the Mall.
At Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Hippie Chic (through Nov 14) and Holland on Paper: The Age of Art Nouveau (through Feb 23, ‘14). If you were there in the 1960’s, you’ll recognize that art nouveau and hippie chic (not the exhibitions) were soul mates in the Age of Aquarius. Think only of women’s (and men’s) curly, flowing hair, all-over nouveau-style printed fabrics, and Fillmore posters that adorned apartment walls with illumination by black light! Maybe it’s a coincidence that the innovative works of Dutch graphic design from the late 19th and early 20th centuries appear on exhibit at the MFA at the same time that examples of sartorial arcana (tie-dye, patchwork, beads, and fringe), ethnic and vintage clothing, and costumes of iconic rock stars and celebrities of the era (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Cher).
The MFA says it has been collecting Dutch art nouveau— inventive art and design – for the past 25 years. Here are 45 examples, including works by Piet Mondrian, Bart van der Leck, and Jan Toorop. It’s a stroke of curatorial genius that invites you to spend a day in two exhibitions bracketing two centuries of novel design and adornment. New York Times story
Postscript: The last Volkswagen “hippie” bus rolls off the production line in Brazil on December 31. Who knew they are still being made? They are being discontinued because they cannot be fitted with air bags and other safety device.
Through Dec 22, Patrick Dougherty, University of Virginia: Internationally known for his site-specific sculptures of twigs and saplings, Patrick Dougherty is creating a unique work for the front of the Ruth Caplin Theatre and Arts Commons at UVA. University and community volunteers are assisting in the project using local materials (under construction). “Acknowledging the biodegradable and ephemeral nature of the materials, Dougherty’s sculptures inhabit a space for only a limited time.” Learn more about the artist from the Green News Update (Books July 2013). List of his current projects. Upcoming Dougherty projects
Nov 12-Jan 27, 2014 Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine Art, Institute of Chicago: Food is a way of examining race, culture, commerce and politics. This exhibition of 75 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 18th through the 20th century, examines the multiple meanings and interpretations of eating in America. Artists range from Raphaelle Peale (one of the famed Peale family of artists) and William Hartnett to Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and Claes Oldenburg. The show includes a selection of period cookbooks, menus, trade cards, and posters, to explore the art and culture of food. Art Institute details