Enfilade

Exhibition | Yinka Shonibare CBE: The American Library

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on March 30, 2019

Yinka Shonibare CBE, The American Library, 2018; hardback books, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, gold foiled names, headphones, interactive application; installation view at The Cleveland Public Library, 2018; commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. © Yinka Shonibare CBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art with funds from VIA Art Fund, Cleveland Public Library and The City of Cleveland’s Cable Television Minority Arts and Education Fund. Photography by Field Studio.

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Yinka Shonibare CBE: The American Library
The Cleveland Public Library, 14 July — 30 September 2018
Van Every/Smith Galleries, Davidson College, 25 October — 14 December 2018

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, 29 March — 15 September 2019

Opening on March 29, 2019, 21c Museum Hotel and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky will present a co-curated exhibition of British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE’s The American Library, a large-scale installation of thousands of books covered in the artist’s signature textiles with the names of people who have contributed to our collective understanding of diversity and immigration in the United States embossed in gold on the spines. The immersive installation will be on view in the Speed Art Museum’s original galleries from 1927, which formerly housed an art library, activating the historic space. Additional works by Shonibare from the 21c Museum Hotel and Speed collections will provide further context. Commissioned by Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, the work was recently on view at the Van Every/Smith Galleries, Davidson College, North Carolina ahead of its forthcoming presentation at the Speed Art Museum this spring. This exhibition marks the first time the Speed Art Museum and 21c Museum Hotel have co-organized a major exhibition.

The American Library is inspired by ongoing debates about immigration and diversity in the United States. The installation comprises bookshelves holding over 6,000 volumes covered in Shonibare’s signature Dutch wax printed cotton, a material whose mixed origins reflect the history of colonization, and are printed with gilded names of figures who have made significant contributions to American culture and/or have influenced public discourse on immigration. The selected names, which include W. E. B. Du Bois, Maria Goeppert Mayer, Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee, Ana Mendieta, Joni Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, Carl Stokes, Donald Trump, and Tiger Woods, fall into the following categories: people who immigrated or whose parents immigrated to the U.S., African Americans who relocated or whose parents relocated out of the American south during the Great Migration, or people who have spoken out against immigration, equality, or diversity in the United States. In the gallery, visitors can access a website that provides additional information on each individual represented on the shelves.

“We at 21c are thrilled to collaborate with the Speed to present The American Library,” says 21c Chief Curator and Museum Director Alice Gray Stites. “In the face of the growing refugee crisis and resistance to immigration across the globe, we feel an urgency to share this work that celebrates the spectrum of voices that have created our nation’s culture and history, while simultaneously acknowledging that there are others who have spoken out against diversity. We hope this exhibition will provide opportunities to better understand the complexity of these political and cultural debates.”

“It feels both timely and meaningful to be collaborating with 21c on an exhibition that acknowledges the many facets of the debate surrounding immigration and the innumerable ways that the United States has benefited from the contributions of migrants and immigrants,” says Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum. “Empathy is often enhanced by education, and Shonibare’s masterful installation of books, and his online database of names, illuminates that this country was built by individuals coming from many different backgrounds and places.”

Yinka Shonibare CBE’s work examines race, class, and cultural identity and explores the history of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Working across media, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, and installation, Shonibare’s work provides insightful political commentary on the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. In addition to The American Library, the 21c and Speed exhibition will feature other works by Shonibare, including:

Yinka Shonibare CBE, ‘The Age of Enlightenment — Gabrielle Émile Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet’, 2008; life-size fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, mixed media (Collection of Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, 21c Museum Hotels, and Collection of Jim Gray, © Yinka Shonibare CBE).

The Three Graces (2001), depicting three headless mannequins dressed in Shonibare’s signature Dutch wax fabric, was inspired by a photograph of three women in Edwardian dress that the artist found in the archives of the Hendrik Christian Andersen Museum in Rome, Italy. As a trio, the sculptures allude to the archetype of ‘The Three Graces’ found in classical ancient Greek sculpture, while their Edwardian dresses speak to the history of Great Britain’s colonization of the African continent.

The Age of Enlightenment — Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet (2008), a sculpture from Shonibare’s series inspired by key historic figures and thinkers from the 18th century, presented as headless mannequins, dressed in his signature Dutch wax fabrics, questions and interrogates the ideas embraced during the Age of Reason that supported and justified colonial expansion. This sculpture depicts female mathematician, physicist, and author Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet and comments upon her status and treatment as an intellectual woman in this period.

Food Faerie (2010) is a sculptural representation of a winged child carrying mangoes in a leather pouch, with one arm held aloft as if holding a spear. Dressed in the style of Victorian England and Dutch wax fabric designed by the artist, this sculpture examines how identity is shaped by both mythology and by capital markets, alluding to England’s colonial control of regions and resources in West Africa.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (2008) combines references to Goya’s 18th-century critiques of the Spanish Church and State with allusions to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Shonibare questions the ongoing impact of the theories of the Enlightenment period on world history and on contemporary geo-politics.

 

Exhibition | Making Time: The Art of the Kentucky Tall Case Clock

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on March 30, 2019

Now on view at the Speed Art Museum:

Making Time: The Art of the Kentucky Tall Case Clock, 1790–1850
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, 2 February — 16 June 2019

Curated by Scott Erbes

Case attributed to Daniel Spencer (American, about 1741–1796), Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, Tall Case Clock, 1793–96; cherry, poplar, chestnut, walnut; eight-day brass and steel movement, 98 inches high (Cox Collection).

Making Time: The Art of the Kentucky Tall Case Clock, 1790–1850 is a first-of-its-kind exhibition devoted to early Kentucky tall case, ‘grandfather’ clocks. The exhibition showcases twenty-seven clocks made across a wide swath of Kentucky from the 1790s through the 1840s. The majority of the clocks come from family and private collections and have rarely, if ever, been shared with the public. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalog that presents significant new research on early Kentucky cabinetmaking and the state’s watch and clock trade.

When shown side-by-side, the clocks reveal the expert hands of many Kentucky artisans; illustrate the hidden world of gears, bells, weights, and pendulums that kept the clocks running and chiming; and record the complex webs of craft, taste, trade, and technology needed to make these practical works of art. Throughout the exhibition, the clock cases illustrate the talents of early Kentucky cabinetmakers, both native-born and those who came to the state in search of success. These artisans transformed local woods like cherry and walnut into towering cases that frequently incorporate flourishes like inlaid decoration, carved ornament, and richly figured veneers. The results range from urbane, Federal-style creations to more idiosyncratic, often boldly inlaid forms. Numerous Kentucky silversmiths are associated with the intricate movements housed within the various clocks.

Just in Time: Exploring Kentucky Tall Case Clocks
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, 18 May, 9:00–3:00

Come join us for a study day exploring the backstories behind early Kentucky tall case clocks with the experts who created the exhibition Making Time: The Art of the Kentucky Tall Case Clock, 1790–1850. Enjoy a morning of presentations focused on the art, history, and technology of these Kentucky treasures; an opportunity to purchase signed copies of the exhibition’s accompanying catalog; and an afternoon tour of the exhibition with its creators. $75.

Scott Erbes (Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, Speed Art Museum), From the Beginning: An Introduction to Kentucky Tall Case Clocks

Early Kentucky tall case clocks tell many stories: of the talented artisans who created them, of local and regional practices, of fashionable taste, of international trade, of the nature of time and timekeeping in Federal America, and of family memory. This overview will touch on these themes and others, setting the stage for the day’s conversations.

Mack Cox (independent researcher and collector), Making the Case for the Art in Kentucky Tall Case Clocks

Kentucky tall case clocks consist of locally made cases mated with clock movements, dials, and other components often made elsewhere. While the latter are often well documented, the Kentucky-made portions and artistic expressions of early Kentucky craftsmen are nearly unknown. Based on over a decade of serious study of Kentucky furniture, this lecture will shed light on the art and Kentucky parts of the Kentucky tall case clock.

Bob Burton (independent researcher and collector), What Makes It Tick: Inside Kentucky Tall Case Clocks

The movements and related parts in Kentucky tall case clocks vary widely in type, materials, and origins. This discussion will reveal these secrets, exploring the time-keeping mechanisms, painted dials, and other components that marked the time in early Kentucky clocks.

Greg Black (independent researcher and collector), Will the Real Elijah Warner Please Stand Up?

Over the past decades, much has been written about Elijah Warner of Lexington, Kentucky, especially that he was a cabinetmaker and clockmaker. The recent discovery of nineteenth-century documents and advertisements cast new light on Warner’s training and occupation and the goods he produced and sold. This presentation will review this information to bring the real Elijah Warner into better focus.