Saturday, May 13, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: An embarrassment of Modernist riches on display from spring to fall, 2017 (Part One)

Modernist design and technology will be highlighted in museums and galleries all over the country this summer -- so much so that I plan to write this posting in three sections, covering first the Northeast, then the Heartland, and eventually Denver's newly renovated but always eccentric Kirkland Museum. Below is a small sample of what's on from now through October, in New York, New Jersey, Boston and Washington, DC. Stay tuned for sections two and three.

 The splendid Queen Mary ocean liner, built in Clydebank, Scotland

“Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed and Style” at the Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street; Salem, MA. The mid-19th century through the mid-20th century was the heyday of these Art Deco icons. Nearly 200 paintings, sculptural works, models, furniture, textiles, photographs and other memorabilia will illustrate the design, technology, personality and opulence of these notable ships. We won't see the likes of these beauties again. Show runs through Oct. 9.

Above: One of many sitting rooms on the Queen Mary. This one is meant 
for guests waiting to enter the ballroom. 

A smaller, yet eye-popping exhibition of interest to Modernism aficionados will be on at PEM through June 11. "WOW: World of Wearable Art" is a zany display of haberdashery that might be suitable for a costume ball on Mars.

For 25 years, New Zealand has hosted an annual design competition that challenges sculptors, costume designers, textile artists and creators of just about anything to explore the boundary between fashion and art, and to "get art off the walls and onto the body." The WOW World of Wearable Art competition is the country's largest art event, drawing an audience of 50,000 to its live runway show.

PEM's exhibition presents 32 ensembles deemed the competition's "most unique, spectacular and outlandish wearable artworks." Materials range from wood and aluminum to fiberglass and taxidermy, "celebrating lavish creativity and pushing the limits of wearability." PEM is the exclusive U.S. east coast venue for this exciting and mind-blowing show.

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Above: Matisse's “Interior With an Etruscan Vase” 
“Matisse in the Studio” at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. An exploration of this singular artist’s creativity brings together 36 color-saturated paintings and 50 other artworks with the treasured textiles, pitchers, masks and other intriguing objects he was inspired by. Many of the latter are on loan from private collections (sculptures and masks from the various Islamic, Asian, and African traditions that Matisse admired), and are being publicly exhibited outside of France for the first time. They include a pewter jug, a chocolate maker given as a wedding present, and an Andalusian vase found in Spain. Show runs through July 9.

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Chromium-plated Manhattan cocktail service, 1934, Norman Bel Geddes,
“The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s.” at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. The bold, streamlined designs that characterized the exuberant Roaring Twenties era are highlighted here in a show of 350 pieces of jewelry, fashion, furniture, textiles, paintings, posters and other items. (See Mad for Mod's posting "Visions of Art Deco and beyond, April 19, 2017) Show runs through August 20.

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Work by the ever-popular Henri Matisse, and examples of his enduring influence over 20th century art, will be on display at the Montclair (NJ) Art Museum, 3 South Mountain Avenue through June 18. “Matisse and American Art” demonstrates the many generations of American artists who have taken their cues from Matisse to experiment with bold, jazzy colors, undulating lines, geometric shapes and a wide variety of abstract subjects. These include Maurice Prendergast, Stuart Davis, Marek Kamienski, Andy Warhol and Faith Ringgold. This exhibition includes 19 works by Matisse and 44 by Americans.

 Matisse's "Scissors art" has inspired generations of children to make cut-out collages.

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Our earth is only one polka dot among a
million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are
a way to infinity.
                                                                                   –Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, "Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity," 2009
Kusama’s Peep Show or Endless Love Show, 1966. Hexagonal mirrored 
room and electric lights.  (No longer extant.)

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on Independence Avenue
in Washington, DC will present the traveling exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” through May 14. This intriguing and whimsical show features six of acclaimed artist and novelist Kusama’s immersive “Infinity Mirror Rooms,” as well as many other signature paintings, collages and works on paper from the early 1950s to the present. Several  large-scale paintings that have never before been shown in the United States will be highlighted as well.

Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016.  Photo by Tomoaki Makino


Coming next ... the Heartland
What's on in spring and summer 2017 

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