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Opening Tomorrow: Abelardo Morell

POSTED BY , ON May 31, 2013, Comments Off

You have two choices:

You can click on the video above to hear photographer Abelardo Morell talk about his work, inspirations, and his parents’ dancing skills.

Or you can visit the museum tomorrow to hear from the artist himself. In celebration of the opening of Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door, the artist will be giving a talk in Rubloff Auditorium. The talk is free with museum admission and begins at 12pm.

Either way, you’re in for a treat!

Work of the Week: Ivan Albright

POSTED BY , ON May 24, 2013, Comments Off

Albright

The early 1970s: a good time for America, or the greatest time for America? Yeah, not the best time for the global economy. And okay, airlines disasters were a regular news segment alongside weather and sports. But also, facelifts were invented. Cars averaged 8 miles a gallon. Southern rock. The Munich Olympics.

Ha ha, okay, full disclosure: I’m using irony here. The early ’70s weren’t the best. I haven’t even gotten to the big one: Watergate. During this month 40 years ago, the Senate began hearings on the whole fiasco. It’s easy to imagine that our generation invented dysfunctional politics, but c’mon. Watergate created quite the scandal.

It wasn’t all bad, though. First off, the Jackson 5, right? But also, art. On a sunny day in 1974, Ivan Albright sat in room 603 of the by-then-infamous Watergate Hotel and, with a set of colored pencils, sketched the view he saw. Albright, an artist famous for pulling no punches in depicting the inner ugliness of his subjects, seems to eschew any hint of the toxicity associated with his location. Instead he shows us the Potomac river with Impressionistic directness, using bright greens and deep blues. I was in Washington, D.C. last month—I saw the beauty Albright saw here. The news is always going to be a bummer, so remember to look around on a spring day. Have a nice long weekend, everyone.

Image Credit: Ivan Albright. View from Room 603, Watergate, Washington, D.C., 1974. Gift of Ivan Albright.

Work of the Week: Picasso

POSTED BY , ON March 29, 2013, Comments Off

Picasso, Pine Tree Nude

On one level, this large painting of a nude was inspired by Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque. But it also belies a number of the artist’s life-long thematic and stylistic interests. Over 40 years after Cubism’s impetus, he continues to draw from that vocabulary with his use of geometric, flattened forms. It also takes inspiration from classical themes, with a reclining nude in a seemingly eternal landscape. The landscape, in fact, was in Provence, where Picasso lived with Roque. The location was also close to Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain that Cézanne memorialized.

If you find yourself at the museum, visit Picasso’s Nude Under a Pine Tree, and then head up to the Post-Impressionist galleries for a deeper look at Picasso’s connection to Cézanne, who Picasso referred to as his “one and only master.”

Image Credit: Pablo Picasso. Nude under a Pine Tree, 1959. The Art Institute of Chicago, bequest of Grant J. Pick. © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Now Open—Kara Walker: Rise Up Ye Mighty Race!

POSTED BY , ON February 21, 2013, Comments Off

MacArthur Fellow Kara Walker is perhaps best known for her large-scale cut-paper silhouettes exploring issues of race, gender, and power. These nearly life-size silhouettes often present stereotypical characters from the history of slavery in America. Walker has said, “The silhouette says a lot with very little information, but that’s also what the stereotype does.” And yet the flat caricatural silhouettes are often more evocative and thematically complex for their ambiguity.

Walker’s new commissioned installation in the Modern Wing, Rise Up Ye Mighty Race!, presents monumental silhouettes alongside large graphite drawings and small-framed mixed-media drawings. The title of the show refers to comments made by Barack Obama in his 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, about the challenges of community organizing in Chicago. Walker refers to the work as “a kind of paranoid panorama” exploring the notion of the “race war” in the contemporary imagination.

Kara Walker: Rise Up Ye Mighty Race! is now on view in Gallery 293.

Please note: This installation contains explicit content. Visitor discretion is advised.

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Work of the Week: mimio-Odyssey

POSTED BY , ON January 25, 2013, 1 COMMENTS

Japanese artist Tomoko Konoike brings the picture book to life with mimio-Odyssey, a video-projected artist’s book that tells the story of a faceless quasi-human’s journey through a surrealistic forest. Along the way, she encounters six-legged wolves, bees with girls’ legs, and flying daggers as she seeks to make sense of the world around her.

Several traditions are evoked through the imagery in mimio-Odyssey. Shinto animism often associates wolves with kami, the spirits of the unseen world. The words “wolf” and “kami” are even pronounced the same. Imagery taken from Buddhism can been seen in the “third eye” of enlightenment and the prevalence of daggers, often symbolizing the exorcising of evil spirits. And Noh theatre plays its role in the Konoike’s animated masks of young and old, good and evil. Konoike’s use of mythology gives the story of mimio-Odyssey a timeless quality, despite its strange and imaginative creatures. It felt almost like having a storybook read aloud to me as I watched the images flicker silently across the pages. See mimio-Odyssey on view in Gallery 108, next to the Ando Gallery.

Tomoko Konoike. mimio-Odyssey, 2005. Gift of Roger L. Weston.