Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Spring, a bit early, is in the air

Maybe it's global warming, maybe it isn't ... but the weather has definitely taken a spring-like turn as of late. And there's signs of life among the trees, bushes and other plantlife that line the campus of the University of Georgia.

Such beautiful scenes, particularly after the cold weather that's gripped the area the past few months, bring to mind other bright images, such as John Twachtman's The Little Bridge, which is a part of the museum's permanent collection.

A native of Cincinnati, Twachtman first began dabbling in art by painting floral window shades for his father's business. These initial efforts spurred his interest, and he would study at the Academie Julian in Paris. It was there that he was heavily influced by the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and the French Impressionists. Working with fellow artists and friends Childe Hassam and J. Alden Weir, he helped to found "The Ten" - an American Impressionist group in the late 1890s.

For an interesting biography of Twachtman, click here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Comprehensive crafting?

One of the Georgia Museum of Art’s most publicized exhibited works of art last year was Theresa Sporer’s knitted motorcycle in the 2006 MFA Degree Candidates’ exhibition. Craft blogs, websites and magazines picked up on its bright colors and interestingly subversive use of traditional and feminized handwork.

Now, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York is presenting an exhibition titled Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting, which is up through June. The New York Times review of the exhibition is interesting in that the author, Martha Schwendener, thinks that its failing is in not being comprehensive or contemporary enough. Still, the pictures on both MAD’s site and alongside the NYT article present new ways of looking at crafts.

Theresa has also posted photographs of some of her recent work online, including a knit jackhammer.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Figgie's@Five update

We've had a change in programming for next week's Figgie's@Five here at the museum. Gabriel Kelley will be performing for us. He's a local folk musician who regularly plays around town. Check out his web site, and be sure to come listen to him on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.

Monday, February 19, 2007

New podcast

Giancarlo Fiorenza, the museum's Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, has just recorded a podcast where he leads a tour of the exhibition he organized - Spanish Works on Paper.

Leo Twiggs

A few years back, the museum was proud to help organize an exhibition chronicling the life and works of Leo Twiggs, an African American artist who strives to take the influences of the current social landscape and not only interpret them, but sometimes give them a new meaning.

Twiggs, who was educated as an artist at Clafin University in Orangeburg, S.C., began his work in the mid-1950s and would go on to teach for 25 years at his alma mater. In 1970, he became the first African American to earn a Doctorate of Arts from the University of Georgia.

This was never more clear in his vast body of work than with his depictions of the Confederate flag, as noted by William Eiland, the director of the Georgia Museum of Art, in the museum's catalogue for his exhibition Myth and Metaphors: The Are of Leo Twiggs.

Leo Twiggs, with gentle but unswerving irony, takes the flag and claims it as part of his Southern heritage. Tattered, disappearing almost on its support, the standard about which there is so much controversy becomes in Twiggs's hands an ambiguous metaphor of unresolved conflict, yes, but also of a shared history. In addition to the Civil War, it calls to mind equally for Twiggs the suffering of slaves, the turmoil of Reconstruction, the indignity of Jim Crow, and even the promise of the Civil Rights era, and, of course, the aftermath, when this piece of cloth, venerated by some, reviled by others, continues to inspire argument and dissension. Twiggs transforms the image through shaping a new iconography for it, one in which he finds the possibility, albeit remote, of accord.

Twiggs also has used much of his career to recreate scenes and events from South Carolina, including the destruction from Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Leo Twiggs; Blues at the Beach, 1999; batik and painton cotton mounted on board; 33 1/2 x 30 inches (frame); Collection of the artist.

South Carolina African American History Online has an interesting biography of Twiggs for those who wish to learn more about this artist.

Wisdom on President's Day

A father came home from the office and noticed that his son was spending too much time playing video games. In an attempt to motivate the young lad, the father said "You know, when Abraham Lincoln was your age, he was studying books by the light of the fireplace."

The son replied, "Well, when Lincoln was your age, he was the president of the United States."

Happy President's Day all.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Revisiting the Carter Collection

Among the Bulletins published by the Georgia Museum of Art to further scholarship in the art historical field is one that particularly deserves rediscovery at the moment. The 1976-77 Bulletin covered the original exhibition of Open to New Ideas: A Collection of New Art for Jimmy Carter, some of which is once again on the walls of the museum in The Carter Collection Revisited, a 30th-anniversary return to the art of the late 1970s.

Each artist included in Open to New Ideas is briefly profiled and his or her work of art illustrated and discussed by then-acting director of the museum Richard S. Schneiderman. The Bulletin also includes a transcript of a day-long panel discussion held on January 7, 1977, at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education on public support of art that was attended and contributed to by 15 of the artists.

Artists included are: Mac Adams, William Anastasi, Laurie Anderson, Robert Barry, Bill Beckley, James Collins, Douglas Davis, Joel Fisher, Hermine Freed, Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison, Lynn Hershman, Douglas Huebler, Peter Hutchinson, Patrick Ireland, Joan Jonas, Jerry Jones, Sharon Kulik, Les Levine, Gordon Matta-Clark, Duane Michals, Larry Miller, Dennis Oppenheim, Charlemagne Palestine, Alan Daniel Saret, Paul Sharits, Bernar Venet, William Wegman and Roger Welch.

The Bulletin is an important record of issues in art, especially avant-garde or challenging art, 30 years ago. As Schneiderman writes in his introduction, “For many of these artists, art must not be simply art; they consider art serving a significant role in the intellectual life of society, and thus, they ask that we look beyond the work of art and perceive or be cognizant of the meaning that the artist presents. Perhaps the works in this collection can best be understood as objects for contemplation since the message presented by the artist is often above and beyond the physical nature of the work itself ... In fact, several of these pieces are incomplete without specific interaction between artist and viewer through the work of art. This attitude marks a return to the spirit of the art of the medieval period ... Using their art as a vehicle for communication, these artists create a new art that permits modern society to enter into the creative process.”

The 1976-77 Bulletin is available for purchase in the museum shop. It runs 166 pages and is extensively illustrated both in black and white and in color.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One looks like another

Gallery Guide is a pretty popular publication that comes out each month that focuses on exhibitions at different art museums and galleries across the country. And if you look at this month's cover, you might think that it looks a bit familiar.

The painting featured on the cover is Daphnis and Chloe by Elizabeth Jane Gardner. If it looks familiar, that's because it is.

La Confidence, also by Gardner, is a part of the Georgia Museum of Art's permanent collection and is one of the most recognizable works we possess. It's been featured on posters, notecards, magnets and the like. We even have a large cutout of the painting that sits in our classroom.

Not only is it a beautiful work, but it's a testament to the career of Gardner, who was one of the first American woman artists who studied and trained in the art academies of France which, at the time, were dominated by men. She was a groundbreaking artists who shattered gender boundaries and help women gain more acceptance in the art community. Gardner would go on to become the first American woman to exhibit at the Paris Salon.

A native of New Hampshire, Gardner worried that her abilities were lacking, which is what prompted her to travel to Paris and study under William Adolphe Bouguereau. She quickly adopted the style of her mentor, who would also become her husband, and was quoted as saying "I would rather be known as the best imitator of Bouguereau than be nobody."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reads on art recovery

This past December, The New York Times put together an interesting article that took a closer look at the book Rescuing Da Vinci, which focused on some of the art recovery efforts following World War II. As the world currently grapples with how best to handle the issues involving the removal of art and other artifacts resulting from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it's worthwhile to take a look at some examinations of what happened in the 1940s. The following are some suggested reads that deal with this topic.

Rescuing Da Vinci - During and following WWII, a special multinational group of more than 350 men and women served behind enemy lines and joined frontline military units to ensure the preservation, protection, liberation and restitution of the world's greatest artistic and cultural treasures. This "band of unsung heroes," formally referred to as the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) section, or commonly referred to as the "Monuments Men," worked tirelessly to track down, identify and catalogue millions of priceless works of art and irreplaceable cultural artifacts, including masterpieces by Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Vermeer, that had been stolen by Hitler and the Nazis.

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War - Every few months you'll read a newspaper story of the discovery of some long-lost art treasure hidden away in a German basement or a Russian attic: a Cranach, a Holbein, even, not long ago, a da Vinci. Such treasures ended up far from the museums and churches in which they once hung, taken as war loot by Allied and Axis soldiers alike. Thousands of important pieces have never been recovered. Lynn Nicholas offers an astonishingly good account of the wholesale ravaging of European art during World War II, of how teams of international experts have worked to recover lost masterpieces in the war's aftermath and of how governments "are still negotiating the restitution of objects held by their respective nations."

The Lost Museum - Pillage is one of the traditional perks of warfare. But it took Adolf Hitler to systematize the decimation and despoiling of cultures, and it took Hector Feliciano seven years to track five famous art collections stolen by the Nazis. He uncovered not only Nazi schemes but also a well-oiled machine of collaborators, informants, moving companies, and neighbors, all with their fingers in the pie. The Lost Museum reads like a good detective story. Inspired by a fascination with the theft of five prominent Parisian Jewish families' art collections, it focuses on the beneficiaries of the thefts and justice for its victims. Filled with family photos of the art, some never before seen by the public, The Lost Museum tracks the pieces as they passed through the hands of German officials, unscrupulous art dealers, and unsuspecting auction houses. That the network was so deviously intricate illustrates the enormous challenge of restitution.

Got a date?

Who knew we were such a desirable romantic destination?

The museum is free, so there's that. Plus, art is terribly romantic.

Cheap date tip

According to Emily Gomez in the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red & Black, the Georgia Museum of Art is good for a cheap date. Apparently, according to Ms. Gomez, "date night has dwindled in college. ...

The next time you want to go on a real date, but you are hurting for cash, try these cheap date tips, and don't let dates become extinct. ...

Indulge in the arts. Go to the Georgia Museum of Art, or check out concerts at the School of Music."

Can't really get much "cheaper" than the GMOA...always free.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Love is in the air, and on fabric

Right now, we've got Modern Threads: Fashion and Art by Mariska Karasz up at the museum, which is a beautiful exhibition chronicling the work of Hungarian designer Mariska Karasz. Karasz was an accomplished fashion designer, who crafted numerous outfits for her daughters, Solveig and Rosamond.

One of the works done for her daughters on display at the museum is a scarf that is decorated with hearts and cherubs, which is perfect with Valentine's Day right around the corner.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bigtime honors

William Eiland, the director of the Georgia Museum of Art, recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries. Eiland has been the museum's director for the past 14 years and has overseen the expansion of the museum's permanent collection, its move from North Campus to its current location in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex and the current fundraising process to build the necessary Phase II expansion for the museum.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On Children at Play

There's a good bit of permanent collection up at the museum right now, and one of the featured works is Jacob Lawrence's Children at Play.

Lawrence, born in Atlantic City, N.J., grew up as the eldest child of three in a series of foster homes and settlement houses in Pennsylvania; his mother had left the children and gone to New York City in search of work. When Lawrence was about 13, his mother re-settled the family in Harlem and enrolled the children in Utopia House, a settlement house whose after-school arts program was run by Charles Alston, the cousin of Romare Bearden. Lawrence studied with Alston during the early 1930s, and Alston’s studio became a center in the Harlem Renaissance – a group of writers, mural and easel painters, poets, composers, and choreographers flourishing during the 1920s then assisted by the federal programs of the Works Progress Administration.

With the help of a Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship, Lawrence created his most well-known paintings – 60 gesso panels titled The Migration of the Negro (1940-41). He arranged for Romare Bearden to have a studio directly above his. Lawrence was drafted into the U.S. Coast Guard in 1943. Following his discharge at the end of World War II, Lawrence taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, the Pratt Institute, and the University of Washington, among many other places. Lawrence, in Children at Play, painted in Harlem following World War II, utilizes primary colors and flattened forms to show an everyday urban scene.

In 1970, looking back on his career as an artist, Lawrence stated: “If I have achieved a degree of success as a creative artist, it is mainly due to the black experience which is our heritage – an experience which gives inspiration, motivation, and stimulation. I was inspired by the black aesthetics by which we are surrounded, motivated to manipulate form, color, space, line, and texture to depict our life, and stimulated by the beauty and poignancy of our environment.”

One busy weekend

It was a jam-packed weekend at the museum with three different events on three consecutive days, all geared at different audiences.

On Friday, we hosted AfterHours@GMOA, which was the opening reception for the exhibitions Modern Threads: Fashion and Art by Mariska Karasz and Wild Ride: Artistic Lessons of Nature by Eric Strauss.

On Saturday, the monthly Family Day program offered by our education department was dedicated to the work of Mariska Karasz, and children packed the museum to take a look in our galleries and then came down to the classroom to work on their own Valentine's Day cards.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, Solveig Cox and Rosamond Berg Brassett, the daughters of Mariska Karasz, joined Ashley Callahan to give a gallery talk on their mother's work. More than 40 people came to the museum to hear about Karasz's work, as well as some personal stories from the daughters' childhood.

To view photos from all three events, please visit the museum's web site.