Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yet Another Crazy Thursday

Polly Knipp Hill in her college years

This April has been full of jam-packed Thursdays at GMOA, and this one is no exception. We have three things going on this p.m.

From 5 to 8 p.m., we encourage you to come over for Drawing in the Galleries. Bring your sketchbooks and colored pencils and really get to know the art in depth.

At 5:30 p.m., in the George-Ann and Boone Knox II Gallery, guest curator and artist Enee Abelman will speak on her exhibition "Polly Knipp Hill: Marking a Life Through Etching." Hill began working as an artist in the 1920s and garnered increased recognition in the decades that followed. Although she initially focused on European architecture, in her mature period her broad body of work grew to encompass poignant, amusing and slightly satirical genre scenes that reflected American culture. This retrospective exhibition of Hill’s life and career is organized iconographically according to the categories into which the artist herself divided her print oeuvre: Paris; America with "street and countryside scenes"; Florida; Arcadia (or reminiscences of her childhood); children’s games; and mountain culture. The groupings also reflect the chronology of her etching career. Abelman has many tales to tell of her dumpster diving and struggles to reconstruct Hill's autobiography and chronology.

Finally, at 7 p.m., we're screening "The September Issue" as our closing film in the series "Dress the Part: Fashion in Movies and Magazines," which goes along with the exhibition "Pattern and Palette in Print: Gentry Magazine and a New Generation of Trendsetters." With unprecedented access, the documentary tells the story of legendary Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her larger-than-life team of editors creating the issue and ruling the world of fashion. Watch the trailer below:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Busy Thursday

Just like last Thursday, this one is full!

At 4 p.m. today, in the M. Smith Griffith Auditorium, we have the annual Willson Center/GMOA Lecture, which this year is being delivered by Sujata Iyengar. Dr. Iyengar teaches English Renaissance literature in UGA's English Department and will be speaking on "Pop Goes Shakespeare: Illustration, Adaptation, and Appropriation in the Arden Shakespeare Covers, Second Series."

During the late 1970s a group of English artists retreated from the increasingly conceptual and abstract London art world to the countryside, styling themselves (in emulation of both the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and of Samuel Palmer’s Brotherhood of Ancients) the Brotherhood of Ruralists. The Ruralists encompassed a variety of styles and approaches, but the Arden 2 Shakespeare covers designed by the Ruralists and marketed aggressively by Methuen shared what founding member Peter Blake called a “magic realism,” a deep engagement with the textual world of Shakespeare within a mythologized English landscape. The Arden Shakespeares sold well, but the mainstream British art establishment continued to accuse the Ruralists scathingly of “loud commercialism,” pretentious sentimentality, and anti-intellectual, anti-modernist nostalgia; the Oxford Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art coyly notes of the Ruralists, “some critics found [them] . . . insufferably twee and self-conscious.” This talk, however, considers the Ruralists’ book-covers as postmodern Pop Art and suggests that what seemed at the time to be narrow-minded insularity now strikes us as an ecological and concentration on the natural world; what seemed to be trendy modernizing now looks like the postmodern trait that Fredric Jameson and others identify as “pastiche,” and that what seemed merely trite or sentimental now appears as a historical resistance to the “schizophrenic” loss of affect found in late-20th-century commercial art.

At 5:30 p.m., we have a gallery talk on "Pattern and Palette in Print: Gentry Magazine and a New Generation of Trendsetters," from our own Mary Koon, editor at GMOA, and co-curator Clay McLaurin, chair of the fabric design program at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Want to learn more about the exciting project that led to this exhibition? Come ask them questions.

Then stay for the second film in our series "Dress the Part: Fashion in Movies and Magazines," when we screen "Funny Face," the 1957 musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire about the world of Paris fashion.

Everything is free and open to the public. Parking on campus in surface lots surrounding the museum is also free beginning at 5 p.m.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tonight at GMOA

Thursday nights are especially busy this April at the museum. We have either two or three events going on every Thursday for the rest of the month, and it's all free.

Tonight at 7 p.m., we have the beginning of our three-film series "Dress the Part: Fashion in Movies and Magazines," with "Bill Cunningham: New York," a documentary about the wonderful New York Times Style section photographer who creates collages of what people are wearing now (like this week's, which focused on spring)

Preceding the film, at 5:30 p.m., we have two lectures on the exhibition "A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery."

Trinita Kennedy, associate curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, in Nashville, Tenn., will speak on the above-pictured painting, the "Madonna of the Fireplace." Kennedy helped organize the exhibition with the BJUMG, contributing to its catalogue, but she's discovered even more about this painting since then and will present her findings. Our other speaker is John Nolan, from BJUMG, who will talk on the history of Northern Renaissance collecting at university art museums, in which his institution was a leader. Want to learn more? Read this Red & Black article on the lectures.

Remember, parking in the surface lots surrounding the museum is free after 5 p.m., even on weekdays.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trashy Fashion: A New Approach to Sustainability

In the spirit of Earth Day, we’ll focus on UGA’s Office of Sustainability! Over the past few weeks, Chiara Gustafson, the intern at the Office of Sustainability, has been organizing the first ever Sorority Green Cup. Twelve sororities appointed “Green Chairs,” who are responsible for recording water, energy and recycling information in their respective houses and reporting those numbers to the Office of Sustainability. The sorority that shows the most effort and greatest improvement in going green will win custom designed t-shirts and a day of discounts at Community Vintage Store downtown.

Each Green Chair comes up with policies and ideas to reduce water and energy waste. Furthermore, Green Chairs are responsible for reducing the use of disposable materials (such as paper plates and plastic utensils). Alison Kirchoff, the Green Chair for Pi Beta Phi, encourages girls to reduce energy consumption by placing stickers on light switches reminding people to turn them off. Pi Beta Phi has increased recycling efforts by involving their kitchen staff in breaking down cardboard boxes and recycling them, rather than throwing them in the dumpster. The Green Chair for Zeta Tau Alpha, Leanne LaFavi, enlisted an electrician’s help in making their house more sustainable. Following his suggestions, she was able to educate members of her sorority about how to be more green.

The Sorority Green Cup will culminate with participation in the Trashion Fashion Show  at ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Inc. The first-ever Trashion Fashion Show will be held on Earth Day, April 22, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Chase Park warehouses. The idea was developed by Lizzie Zucker-Saltz, the artistic director for ATHICA, and Suki Janssen, the Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division head.

The Trashion Fashion Show is held in conjunction with ATHICA’s Upcycle exhibition, which seeks to inform the public about the zero-waste movement of upcycling. Upcycling is a process by which discarded materials are reused in a creative way by being made into marketable products or fine art pieces. Upcycling differs from recycling in that no energy is expended to return the materials to a raw form, and it focuses on materials that are difficult to recycle or cannot be recycled such as Styrofoam, plastic cutlery, ziplock bags, bottle caps and pop tabs.

Upcycle featured artist Reid McCallister's piece Bird with Tractor (Braque)

The Trashion Fashion Show will feature models wearing outfits made entirely out of discarded materials. Each of the twelve sororities participating in the Sorority Green Cup will take part in the Trashion Fashion Show, along with local artists and elementary school students. A panel of celebrity judges will give a variety of awards. The panel includes Kim Deakins of Pain & Wonder Tattoo, Candice Courcy and Alan MacArthur of Urban Spa & Sanctuary, and the Georgia Museum of Art’s very own public relations man, Michael Lachowski!

In order to participate in the Trashion Fashion Show, contact Chiara Gustafson at by April 15! 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Weekly Work: Bacchus #81

The 1940s and 1950s were heavily influenced by an art movement known as Abstract Expressionism. Willem de Kooning was known as one of the great artists of the time during this period. His wife Elaine was also heavily influenced by the Abstract Expressionism movement, but was often relegated to Willem's shadow. This week's Weekly Work shifts the spotlight on Elaine, an extraordinary artist with strong ties to the University of Georgia.

One branch of Abstract Expressionism is “action painting,” which often features large, quickly made strokes and compositions that strive to convey an idea of motion and malleability. Elaine was never a true abstract painter, but the principles of Abstract Expressionism can be seen in her 1983 work “Bacchus #81.”

Bacchus #81

Elaine’s works often feature subtle figures, despite her association with Abstract Expressionism. Her thick, heavy brushstrokes outlining the forms of human figures blend the figurative and abstract art in a highly stylized way. Although it is clear that some kind of human figure is being portrayed, it is difficult to tell how many figures there are.

Elaine’s Bacchus series was inspired by a sculpture she saw on a visit to the Jardin du Luxembourg, in Paris, France. Jules Dalou created "The Triumph of Silenus" in 1885.

Bacchus inventant la com├ędie

Elaine began painting the series in her studio here at UGA from 1976 to 1978 during her tenure as the first Lamar Dodd Visiting Professor. In 1977, de Kooning spent the summer in Cortona, Italy, as part of the UGA Summer Study Abroad Program.

Born in Brooklyn in 1918 as Elaine Fried, she got her love of art from her mother, Mary, who frequently took her children to art museums and Broadway plays. After graduating high school, de Kooning studied briefly at Hunter College, the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and the American Artists School. In the fall of 1938, Elaine met Dutch immigrant Willem de Kooning. The pair moved in together a year later and married in 1943.

Willem and Elaine de Kooning
De Kooning’s artistic work was often overshadowed by that of her more famous husband’s, but received her first solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery in 1954, and Art News later went on to call it one of the “Ten Best of 1956.”

Beginning in 1957, she received a variety of teaching positions at institutions including the University of New Mexico, Yale University, Pratt Institute and Carnegie Mellon University. Her crowning achievement was a commission from the White House to paint a portrait of President John F. Kennedy. The portrait easily stands out in the long lineof presidential portraits. Following Kennedy’s assassination, de Kooning took a year’s hiatus from painting and focused on sculpting.

Portrait of John F. Kennedy
Elaine traveled extensively throughout the 1980s, visiting various parts of the United States, Europe, Egypt, Kenya, China and Japan. These travels inspired her series Cave Walls and Cave Paintings, which represented a major divergence from her early work, featuring lighter, minimalist brushstrokes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Marina Abramovic: The Grandmother of Performance Art

The Georgia Museum of Art is currently showing an exhibition of video art titled “Performing Identity: Marina Abramovic, Eleanor Antin, and Hannah Wilke.” Abramovic, Antin and Wilke are all notable contemporary performance artists.

Marina Abramovic
In trying to come up with an idea for a blog post, I happened across Marina Abramovic’s Wikipedia page while researching body art. I was shocked. After perusing the page for a few minutes, I thought, “This is not art. This is insanity.”

For those unfamiliar with her work, Abramovic is a Yugoslavian performance artist who uses her body as both subject and medium. “The Artist is Present” is perhaps her most famous performance piece. For three months, Abramovic sat at a table illuminated by a square of light in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Members of the audience were invited to sit across from her, for however long they wished. There is now a tumblr titled “Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry.” The total exhibition time was 736 hours and 30 minutes, in which Abramovic was totally silent. Her goal during the exhibition was to communicate energy with the audience rather than words.

The opening of The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art
Abramovic’s inspiration for this iconic performance piece (which has since been developed into a video game) was the desire to no longer be “alternative.” Having been a fringe artist for her entire career, her desire was to legitimize performance art.

The self-appointed “grandmother of performance art,” Abramovic began her career in the early 1970s, experimenting with the pain and pleasure the body can experience with performances in Yugoslavia. Her early works primarily featured the Rhythm series, in which Abramovic explored elements of pain.

One of her most shocking pieces is “Rhythm 0,” performed in 1974. Abramovic set out to test the relationship between performer and audience. She remained inert for six hours near a table on which 72 objects had been placed. The items included rose petals, thorns, knives, honey and a loaded pistol. Abramovic described the performance as creating an “aggressive atmosphere.” One of the most interesting aspects of the performance was that, though the audience grew bolder over time, as soon as Abramovic stood up, at the end of the six hours, they all ran to escape.

All though Abramovic’s work is certainly shocking, it also probes deep into the human psyche. With “Rhythm 0,” Abramovic poignantly portrayed the human fear of confrontation. The audience was happy to cut her, rip her clothes, push thorns into her stomach and even hold the pistol to her head. But as soon as Abramovic was more than a helpless participant, they cowered in fear.
An audience member holds the loaded pistol to Abramovic during her performance of Rhythm 0

Beyond the relationship between audience and performer, Abramovic also investigates gender, artist, and ego. Her romantic and professional relationship with German performance artist Uwe Lysiepen explored concepts of the artistic self, rather than exploit gender ideologies. They attempted to create one “self,” blending their genders and casting off their egos to make a phantom artistic identity. This approach allows for an entirely different experience for both the viewer and artist. Lysiepen and Abramovic strove to create an overwhelmingly intoxicating energy in their performance pieces.

Abramovic’s work has covered vast ground in an effort to make performance art a legitimate art form in the public eye. Whether you love or hate her work, it is undeniable that Abramovic is a creative genius.

GMOA is currently showing Abramovic’s autobiographical performance “SSS.” Recorded in 1989, Abramovic delivers a monologue interspersed with images of her engaging in symbolic gestures. The piece is six minutes long. It is being shown with Eleanor Antin’s piece “From the Archives of Modern Art” (1987, 18 minutes) and Hannah Wilke’s “Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass” (1976, 10 minutes). All films are being screened in the Alonzo and Vallye Dudley Gallery until June 10, 2012. Visit for more information!

RENEWAL Art Show and Sale

The Second Annual RENEWAL Art Show and Sale is almost here!

The two-day event will be held on Saturday, April 21 from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Seney-Stovall Chapel, 201 N. Milledge Ave. RENEWAL is a community event that unites local artists, musicians, educators, businesses and volunteers to celebrate and support elementary art education in Athens.

Festivities will include music and performances, an exhibition of student art from Athens elementary schools, an art market featuring work from 30+ local artists, a create-your-own art area and a silent auction with goods and services donated by businesses in Athens. Baked goods and coffee will be provided by Dondero’s Kitchen and Jittery Joe’s.

To donate art, goods and services, or participate as a volunteer or vendor, contact Mark Palmer at 706.296.6808. Artists may participate as a vendor by completing an application, paying a $20.00 application fee and donating 30 percent of their sales.   

Proceeds will fund art education in all 14 elementary schools in Athens-Clarke County.

For more information visit the Facebook event page. 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Madonna of the Fireplace: Medium, Mastery and Meaning

Attributed to Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse (Flemish, 1478-1532),  Madonna of the Fireplace, ca. 1500,  oil on panel , 33 x 22 1/8 inches. 

Currently on view at the Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA), “A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery” surveys devotional art of Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries. The exhibition explores Christian faith through setting, pose, gesture and everyday objects.

“Madonna of the Fireplace,” one of 28 paintings on display from the Bob Jones Collection, was restored in 2010, revealing its rich, vibrant color. It depicts figures in a highly realistic, unidealized manner, stresses detail and contains symbolism—all common characteristics of Northern Renaissance painting.  Although the artist of the work remains unknown, it is most likely one of Jan Gossaert’s contemporaries.

The composition also demonstrates the versatile qualities of its medium. Made popular in the 15th century by Flemish artist Jan van Eyck, oil created an avenue for Northern European artists to develop advanced techniques for paintings that truly came to life. Oil is slow to dry, which makes it possible to paint in layers and create value directly on canvas. 

The Virgin, the central and largest figure, is seated with Christ Child on her lap. Three singing angels stand behind her praising her as the Virgin mother and another angel emerges from a doorway with a spoon and a bowl of milk for the Christ Child. Christ, who is usually depicted sitting upright, is seen here on his stomach looking up at his mother while she looks down at him. The pyramid formed by the two figures, along with the use of single-point perspective, fortifies their significance. 

Symbols are found throughout the composition—the objects strewn across the floor, the furniture, the intricate design of the fireplace—that indicate wealth, family life, childhood and Christ’s life. Three prominent symbols include the fireplace, the Christ Child’s walker and the tiled floor.  Although the fireplace is positioned to the left of the Virgin and Christ Child, it remains a central fixture in the home that provided families with heat and light after dark. It also references the Eucharist, as the fireplace was where people baked bread. The wooden walker, located at the bottom right, is what Christ would have used to take his first steps and foreshadows the wooden Cross he would bear. The tiles on the floor form an octagonal pattern indicating Christ’s resurrection.

For an in-depth discussion of “Madonna of the Fireplace” and other Northern Renaissance paintings, join GMOA for our lectures by Trinita Kennedy and John Nolan on April 12.

“A Divine Light” runs through July 29.