Enfilade

Exhibition | Bed Furnishings in Early America

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 30, 2018

Now on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum:

Bed Furnishings in Early America: An Intimate Look
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 26 September 2018 — 27 January 2019

Curated by Brandy Culp

Anna Tuels, Paper Template-pieced Quilt, Hourglass, 1785, New England, various worsteds, silk, and printed cottons, with a wool backing and wool batting (Wadsworth Atheneum, 1967.75).

From birth to death, the bed played a significant role in life’s daily cycles. Almost a room within a room, the bed was a place for sleeping as well as intimate activities, such as sex, childbirth, nursing, convalescence, and even death. From the seventeenth to early nineteenth century there was a bed in almost every room of the home. The ‘best bed’—today we call it the master bed—was usually located in either the distinguished parlor or ‘best’ bedchamber. These were public spaces, where guests were entertained and daily activities took place.

The fully-outfitted bedstead was one of the most expensive household items in Early America, regardless of one’s wealth. Bed hangings, counterpanes, coverlets, bed rugs, and quilts bear witness to the aspirations of their owners and makers. All are exceptional examples of handwork that reflect the skills of talented artisans, whether hired professional or homemaker, and mark the global intersections between people of various cultures. Bed Furnishings in Early America, An Intimate Look explores the evolution of privacy, intimacy, status, and global exchange through the bedstead, its textiles, and their placement within the home into the late nineteenth century.

Exhibition | Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on November 30, 2018

Bouke de Vries, War and Pieces, 2012, 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century porcelain, plastic, sprayed plaster, acrylic, steel, aluminum, gilded brass, and mixed media (installation view at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2018).

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From the press release, via Art Daily:

Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 4 October 2018 — 6 January 2019
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, 2 February — 12 May 2019

For years, the work of celebrated artist Bouke de Vries has been shown all over Europe in museums, galleries, castles, and palaces. America won’t be left behind. Now and through the middle of 2019, several sculptures by Dutch-born de Vries will be making their stateside debut at museums in Hartford, Connecticut; Montgomery, Alabama; and Nashville, Tennessee. Foremost among them is his pièce de résistance: War and Pieces, a 26-foot-long installation inspired by the lavish decorative centerpieces of 18th-century European banqueting tables.

The first venue is the Wadsworth Atheneum, in Hartford, where de Vries is the featured artist in the 180th installment of the museum’s MATRIX contemporary art exhibition series, running from 4 October 2018 until 6 January 2019. “Because the Wadsworth Atheneum possesses such an outstanding collection of the very kind of porcelain figures and centerpieces that Bouke de Vries references in his monumental work,” observes Linda Roth, Senior Curator and Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts, “featuring War and Pieces at our museum makes perfect sense.” Adds de Vries: “It is an honor to debut my most ambitious work at America’s first-ever museum of art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, in their longstanding and groundbreaking MATRIX series.”

From Hartford, War and Pieces travels South, to Alabama, where it will be on view at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts from 2 February to 12 May 2019.

Employing broken shards of various kinds of porcelain-ancient and modern—from Hummel thru blanc de Chine to IKEA—the artist has arranged them into apocalyptic vignettes of orchestrated destruction. Dead center is a towering nuclear mushroom cloud. Six mano-a-mano battle scenes flank the cloud, fought by armour-clad figures molded from 18th-century embodiments of Mars and Minerva by England’s Derby factory. The sugarcoated warring figures are mutating into cyborgs with colorful bionic limbs and weaponry from Transformer toys. The striking diversity among the sugar, porcelain and plastic underscores the tension between the handmade and the industrial. De Vries’s masterwork is an unforgettable commentary on the follies of war and is perhaps the most startling tablescape since Judy Chicago’s landmark Dinner Party, 1979.

London-based, de Vries first worked in fashion with John Galliano, Stephen Jones, and Zandra Rhodes before switching careers. Since then the 57-year-old artist has worked as a conservator of ceramics and glass, in addition to his pursuits as an artist since 2010. Ironically, the skills he deploys as a restorer went in a totally opposite direction for War and Pieces. Instead of reconstructing shattered porcelain, he deconstructed it, inaugurating a new status while creating new virtues. Says de Vries: “I have dreamed of sharing my approach to art—especially War and Pieces—at such prestigious museums around the United States.”

In addition, from 2 February until 9 June 2019, as part of Derived from the Decorative: Works by Faig Ahmed, Beth Lipman and Bouke de Vries at Nashville’s Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, other works by de Vries will be making their American bow. Peacock 1 and Glass Cloud are also both constructed of broken pieces of historic ceramic and glass. Bouke de Vries is represented in the United States by Ferrin Contemporary in North Adams, Massachusetts.