Enfilade

Exhibition | History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Mural

Posted in exhibitions, on site, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on March 2, 2021

Installation photo of Tom Judd’s Portal to Discovery mural, 2020, produced for Philadelphia’s 5th Street-Independence Hall Station on the Market-Frankford Line.

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The Woodmere Art Museum hosts a virtual opening reception with the artist this evening (Tuesday) at 7pm, ET:

History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Mural
Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, 27 February — 13 June 2021

In connection with the reconstruction of Philadelphia’s 5th Street-Independence Hall Station on the Market-Frankford Line, and as part of SEPTA’s Art in Transit program, artist Tom Judd was selected to create a permanent installation for the station. Titled Portal to Discovery, Judd’s mural on the eastbound and westbound platforms presents figures who contributed to the founding of the United States as well as those who fought for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. The mural includes portraits of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Philadelphians such as Frances E. W. Harper, one of the first African American women to be published in the United States, and Absalom Jones, an African American abolitionist and clergyman who founded the Free African Society with Richard Allen in 1787. Juxtaposed with these figures are familiar landscape views of Philadelphia, windows, doors, and other architectural elements of the city. The experience is one of a great historical dreamscape that poses questions and promotes civic dialogue.

The Museum’s exhibition includes preparatory studies for the mural as well as in-process photographs of the installation; the panels were fabricated by Ben Volta Studios and the installation was managed by James Shuster. The project was realized with help from graphic designer Wenlu Bao; David W. Seltzer, transit consultant and catalog producer; SEPTA; Burns Engineering, Inc.; Converse Winkler Architecture; and Marsha Moss, public art curator and consultant. The mural is an important addition to Philadelphia’s rich landscape of public art.

Judd grew up in Salt Lake City and attended the University of Utah from 1970 to 1972. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts). His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States, and is in the collections of numerous museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and Woodmere Art Museum. Judd works in a variety of media, including painting, collage, photography, and installation.

ASECS Repudiates Report of 1776 Advisory Commission

Posted in the 18th century in the news, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 28, 2021

This statement repudiating the “1776 Report”—which was released by the Trump Administration on 18 January 2021—was approved by the ASECS Executive Board on 22 January 2021. The statement follows the condemnation offered by the American Historical Association (AHA), which was signed by 42 organizations, including the College Art Association. As Tina Nguyen reports for Politico (19 January 2021), the “1776 Report” appears to contain multiple instances of self-plagiarism from prior texts by commission members Thomas Lindsay and Matthew Spalding, including direct quotes left unacknowledged in the document (the report includes neither a bibliography nor notes of any kind). HECAA is an affiliate society of both ASECS and CAA.

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The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies stands in solidarity with other academic organizations that condemn the Trump Administration’s “1776 Report,” issued on January 18, 2021. We reject the report’s caricature of the transformative period of American and global history that we study. The report proffers a facile myth of cardboard great men creating a Utopian nation and fails to represent the fullness, the complexity, and, critically, the failures of the American experiment in instituting Enlightenment philosophical ideals.

We decry in particular the following distortions and falsehoods:

Government: The report ignores the ways in which the American experiment in republican form of government emerged in crisis and conflict and disagreement in 1776 and 1789. Those events—winning independence from the British Empire and founding a new federal republic on principles of liberty and equality—seeded the new nation with democratic ways of mediating conflict and negotiating difference. This enabled the early reform movements like Abolition and Women’s suffrage.

Religion: The report advances the false belief that the Founding established a “common American morality” by promoting religious faith and revelation as components of political discourse. The Founders did not fuse but separated church and state.

Slavery: We deplore the report’s minimization of slavery’s role in the formation of our nation and the creation of its wealth and power in the modern world. It ignores the role of racism in perpetuating slavery, as well as slavery’s persistent effects in American society today. We reject the false characterization of the Founders as uniformly opposed to slavery; of course, many prominent Founders owned slaves and enshrined slavery in the Constitution.

Indigenous First Nations: We denounce the glaring omission from the report of any mention of indigenous peoples, as well as the failure to acknowledge the oppression, violence, and erasure done to our First Nations, who, as the report evidences, continue to be banished from our collective history.

We support the decision by the new administration inaugurated on January 20, 2021, to remove this report from the White House website and to dissolve the 1776 Commission. The rejection of the report by the new administration, however, has not prevented other institutions from posting it on their websites, and the false narrative that it promotes may still be exploited.

The history of the United States is often a painful one. Rather than ignore or underplay its dark side, we hope that future scholars will interrogate comforting narratives of America’s greatness and replace them with a clear-eyed understanding of our history in all its complexity. Our wish can be summed up in the words of Amanda Gorman: “It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”

AWA’s Conservation of Ferroni’s Pair of Hospital Paintings

Posted in the 18th century in the news, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 4, 2021

An aerial view of conservators in their studio with Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims (1756) by Violante Ferroni; its pendant Saint John of God Feeds the Poor is also being conserved. Photo by Francesco Cacchiani / Advancing Women Artists.

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On Saturday, Sylvia Poggioli reported for NPR on the work of AWA (Advancing Women Artists), including the conservation now in progress of Violante Ferroni’s two large oval canvases, painted for Florence’s San Giovanni di Dio, a former hospital founded in the fourteenth century: “‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works of Female Renaissance Artists,” NPR Weekend Edition (2 January 2021). Last month, Alexandra Kiely wrote on Ferroni’s pictures for Daily Art Magazine: “Healing Violante Ferroni’s Paintings at San Giovanni di Dio Hospital.” And the latest issue of the AWA newsletter includes an interview with conservator Elizabeth Wicks, who in the May issue shared these thoughts:

Elizabeth Wicks, “‘The Art of Healing’ Becomes Literal” Inside AWA (May 2020): 54–59.

In October 2019, we began conservation work on the first painting of our project ‘The Art of Healing’, Violante Ferroni’s large oval canvas painted in 1756 and entitled St. John of God Heals Victims of the Plague. . . When we learned that the monumental atrium of the former hospital where the painting is situated had been used as a place of triage for plague victims, it seemed like a calamity from a faraway era, disconnected from our more fortunate present-day lives. Now that we are fighting a global war against a virus, defined as a ‘modern-day plague’, my connection to the figures in the painting has become a deeply emotional one. I have never been surer about the power of art to connect and heal us all (54).

A conversation with AWA director Linda Falcone and Elisabeth Wicks is available on YouTube: “Restoration Conversations: Art Rescue in Progress” The Florentine (13 November 2020).

Conservator Elisabeth Wicks at work in her studio in Florence. Photo by Francesco Cacchiani / AWA 

Blackout Tuesday

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on June 2, 2020

Exhibition | Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 31, 2020

Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1800–01, oil on canvas, 102 × 87 inches (Château de Malmaison); and Kehinde Wiley, Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, oil on canvas, 108 × 108 inches (Brooklyn Museum, Partial gift of Suzi and Andrew Booke Cohen in memory of Ilene R. Booke and in honor of Arnold L. Lehman, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, and William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund, 2015.53), © Kehinde Wiley.

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley
Château de Malmaison, 9 October 2019 — 6 January 2020
Brooklyn Museum, New York, January 24–May 10, 2020

Curated by Lisa Small and Eugenie Tsai

The Brooklyn Museum presents Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley, an exhibition pairing an iconic painting from the Museum’s collection—Kehinde Wiley’s Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps (2005)—with its early nineteenth-century source image, Jacques-Louis David’s Bonaparte Crossing the Alps (1800–01). By displaying the two paintings together, in dialogue with each other for the first time, the exhibition explores how ideas of race, masculinity, representation, power, and agency have played out across the history of Western portraiture. The presentation is organized by the Brooklyn Museum in collaboration with the Château de Malmaison, where the original version of David’s portrait is permanently displayed. Before traveling to the Brooklyn Museum, the two paintings were on view at the Chateau de Malmaison (Kehinde Wiley Rencontre Jacques-Louis David).

David’s famous portrait was commissioned in 1800 by King Charles IV of Spain in an effort to win the favor of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was then First Consul of France. In the two centuries since its commission, Bonaparte Crossing the Alps has inspired numerous interpretations, but none seem to resonate in contemporary culture as much as Wiley’s large-scale version. In his Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, Napoleon is replaced with a Black man wearing camouflage fatigues and Timberland boots. By combining the role, stature, and implied historical legacy depicted in Bonaparte Crossing the Alps with visual markers of status from contemporary African American culture, Wiley challenges the art historical canon, critiquing how it has routinely overlooked the collective Black cultural experience.

David posed Napoleon in the tradition of equestrian portraits of historical commanders like Hannibal and Charlemagne, amplifying the grandeur of the portrait, which commemorated the First Consul and Reserve Army’s expedition through the Great Saint Bernard Pass, in the Alps. In the painting, Napoleon leads his soldiers from atop a rearing steed; in actuality he made this journey on the back of a mule. This is just one example of how Bonaparte Crossing the Alps constructed a strategic image of the General as a triumphant military leader while departing from historical accuracy.

In Wiley’s interpretation, the artist replaced the Italian mountainside and ready infantry with a detailed background flooded with sperm cells. To this ensemble, he added an ornate gilded frame with testicular-shaped cartouches in each corner and crowned by a carved self-portrait emerging from yonic volutes. The result transforms and challenges the grand tradition of historical portraiture established by artists like David, calling attention to the long-standing blind spots of canonical Western painting and the need to redress historical biases. The work belongs to an ongoing series of Wiley’s titled Rumors of War, begun in 2005, which includes the artist’s latest work of the same name: a monumental equestrian bronze statue in New York’s Times Square, which was unveiled in September 2019 and is now in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley at the Brooklyn Museum marks the first display of David’s portrait in New York, and the first time the two works have been on view together in the United States. To highlight this important occasion, Wiley collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum on the exhibition design for the U.S. presentation. A video showing Wiley on the grounds of Malmaison also accompanies the project, incorporating the artist’s perspectives on how the Western canon, French portrait tradition, and legacies of colonialism influence his own practice. When displayed together, these two works highlight the importance of re-examining representations of power across two centuries and two cultural contexts.

The exhibition also features a selection of complimentary works by Wiley, including a small-scale version of the artist’s recent monumental equestrian statue, Rumors of War. Also on display is Houdon Paul-Louis, a 2011 bust by Wiley that is part of the Museum’s collection. Several works from the Museum’s collection are also on display to provide historical context for Napoleon, including a small bronze equestrian portrait by Antoine-Louis Barye, medals struck by the Emperor to commemorate his achievements, and British prints brutally satirizing him.

Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau. The Brooklyn presentation is curated by Lisa Small, Senior Curator, European Art, and Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.

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A booklet for the exhibition at the Châteaux de Malmaison, with brief essays by Emmanuel Delbouis and Élodie Vaysse, is available as a PDF file here (in French and English).

Lecture | Michelle Erickson on the Art and Politics of Clay

Posted in lectures (to attend), today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 19, 2020

Tuesday evening at BGC:

Michelle Erickson, Making History: The Art and Politics of Clay
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 21 January 2020

Michelle Erickson, Patriot Jug, 2018, creamware (wheel thrown and lathe turned earthenware, modeled and press molded spout and handle extruded through a custom cut brass die), 9.5 × 9.5 inches (Photo by Robert Hunter).

Michelle Erickson will present at the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Seminar on New York and American Material Culture on Tuesday, January 21, at 6pm. Her talk is entitled “Making History: The Art and Politics of Clay.”

Erickson will discuss her practice as a studio potter in the fields of contemporary art, historical archaeology, and studio ceramics. Her oeuvre is renowned for its historical depth, technological virtuosity, and incisive commentary. She will explain how her work gives dynamic relevance to the legacy of ceramics as a form of social expression, referencing how makers and users have deployed ceramics to advocate for political change and social justice as well as to document epic events in human experience.

Michelle Erickson has a BFA from the College of William and Mary and is an independent ceramic artist and scholar. Internationally recognized for her mastery of techniques used during the American colonial era, her work reinvents historical ceramics to construct contemporary social, political, and environmental critiques. Her pieces are in the collections of major museums in the United States and Britain, including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, the Seattle Art Museum, the Potteries Museums in Stoke-on-Trent, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has lectured and demonstrated at these institutions as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Profiles of Erickson’s erudite artistry appear in numerous national and international publications. Her interdisciplinary studies of seventeenth- and eighteenth- century ceramic techniques, grounded in historical research and object-making, have been featured in such journals as the Chipstone Foundation’s Ceramics in America. Erickson also has designed and produced ceramics for many museums, institutions, and collectors as well as major motion pictures such as The Patriot (2002) and HBO’s series John Adams (2008).

The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation Seminar in New York and American Material Culture fosters thought-provoking discussions of current research on New York and American Material Culture. Talks by leading scholars draw upon a wide array of material evidence, including artifacts of daily life and ranging from decorative arts, prints, and photographs to architecture, interiors, and urban design. A key aspect of the series is the broad spectrum of disciplinary frameworks at play, including history, art history, anthropology, and archaeology as well as specialized studies of race, ethnicity, gender, class, region, and nationhood.

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.

Cambridge Launches Inquiry into Historical Links to Slavery

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on May 1, 2019

I learned of this press release from the University of Cambridge through The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) issue 426 (30 April 2018), which also notes that the University of Glasgow recently completed a similar study of its own historical ties to slavery. The report “Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow,” published in September 2018, concludes that “although the University of Glasgow never owned enslaved people or traded in the goods they produced, it is nonetheless clear that the university received significant financial gifts and support from people who derived some or occasionally much of their wealth from slavery. . . The issue facing the university today is how to address this history? We deeply regret that during a crucial period of its growth and development the University of Glasgow indirectly benefitted from racial slavery, and this is a past which clashes with our proud history of support for the abolition of both the Slave Trade and slavery itself. We believe that what is most important, however, is how we intend to use our knowledge of this past in a ‘Programme of reparative justice’.” CH

From the Cambridge press release (30 April 2019) . . . .

Josiah Wedgewood, Emancipation Badge, 1787, jasperware, commissioned by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, designed by Henry Webber and modelled by William Hackwood (Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum).

The University of Cambridge will conduct an in-depth academic study into ways in which it contributed to, benefited from or challenged the Atlantic slave trade and other forms of coerced labour during the colonial era.

The two-year inquiry will explore University archives and a wide range of records elsewhere to uncover how the institution may have gained from slavery and the exploitation of labour, through financial and other bequests to departments, libraries, and museums. It will also investigate the extent to which scholarship at the University of Cambridge, an established and flourishing seat of learning before and during the period of Empire, might have reinforced and validated race-based thinking between the 18th and early 20th century.

A specially commissioned Advisory Group appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen J Toope, has been asked to recommend appropriate ways to publicly acknowledge past links to slavery and to address its impact. The eight-member Advisory Group overseeing the work is being chaired by Professor Martin Millett, the Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology, and draws its membership from relevant academic departments across the University. The panel will call on further external expertise as necessary. The inquiry will be conducted by two full-time postdoctoral researchers, based in the Centre of African Studies, part of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The research will examine specific gifts, bequests, and historical connections with the slave trade. Researchers will also look into the University’s contribution to scholarship and learning that underpinned slavery and other forms of coerced labour.

Professor Millett said: “This will be an evidence-led and thorough piece of research into the University of Cambridge’s historical relationship with the slave trade and other forms of coerced labour. We cannot know at this stage what exactly it will find but it is reasonable to assume that, like many large British institutions during the colonial era, the University will have benefited directly or indirectly from, and contributed to, the practices of the time. The benefits may have been financial or through other gifts. But the panel is just as interested in the way scholars at the University helped shape public and political opinion, supporting, reinforcing and sometimes contesting racial attitudes which are repugnant in the 21st century.”

Professor Toope, the Vice-Chancellor, said: “There is growing public and academic interest in the links between the older British universities and the slave trade, and it is only right that Cambridge should look into its own exposure to the profits of coerced labour during the colonial period. We cannot change the past, but nor should we seek to hide from it. I hope this process will help the University understand and acknowledge its role during that dark phase of human history.”

The Advisory Group’s work comes amid a wider reflection taking place in the United States and Britain on the links between universities and slavery. It is among a number of race equality initiatives currently being pursued at the University of Cambridge. In February, the Centre of African Studies hosted a round table on ‘Slavery and its Legacies at Cambridge’. The Advisory Group is expected to deliver its final report to the Vice-Chancellor in autumn 2021. Alongside its findings on historical links to the slave trade, the report will recommend appropriate ways for the University to publicly acknowledge such links and their modern impact.

Exhibition | Image Control: Understanding the Georgian Selfie

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on April 14, 2019

Now on view at No. 1 Royal Crescent:

Image Control: Understanding the Georgian Selfie
No. 1 Royal Crescent, Bath, 13 April 2019 — 5 January 2020

As the Age of Instagram erodes our mental well-being with manipulated and curated images of ideal lifestyles and standards, Image Control explores the way Georgians manipulated their own images to convey certain messages. By using these techniques, we aim to create our own manipulated images of historical figures to show how easy it is to create a fictionalised version of our lives today.

The exhibition is supported by new art commissions: we have commissioned three artists to create a portrait of Henry Sandford—the house’s first resident—to be displayed in the main house. There is an exhibition guide showing a recommended route, starting with the exhibition room and leading into the house, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the portraits and images throughout.

The project team included Lizzie Johansson-Hartley, Museum Manager, No.1 Royal Crescent; Dr Amy Frost, Senior Curator, Bath Preservation Trust; Isabel Wall, Assistant Curator, Bath Preservation Trust; Polly Andrews, Learning and Engagement Officer, Bath Preservation Trust; Katie O’Brien, Gallery Director, 44AD; and Amina Wright, Art Lecturer and Historian.

The earlier, working title of the project was Image Control: The Power of Perception Then and Now. The artist’s brief is available as a PDF file here.

 

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.

 

Cantor Art Center Acquires Works by Kaphar and Suh

Posted in museums, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on February 25, 2019

From the Cantor Arts Center press release, via Art Daily:

Titus Kaphar, Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, January 1774, Goliath, Hercules, Jupiter, Gill, Fanny, Ned, Sucky, Frankey, Gill, Nell, Bella, Charles, Jenny, Betty, June, Toby, Duna (sic), Cate, Hannah, Rachael, George, Ursula, George, Bagwell, Archy, Frank, Bett, Scilla, ? , 2, 2018; oil on canvas on support panel (Stanford: Cantor Arts Center / © Titus Kaphar).

With the recent acquisition of the painting, Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, January 1774 . . ., by Titus Kaphar, and the monumental hanging sculpture, Cause & Effect, by Do Ho Suh, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University has added two significant works to its collection that reference how forced and unforced global migration transform personal and cultural identity.

The acquisition of these works supports the vision of Susan Dackerman, the John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor, to bring the museum firmly into the 21st century through acquisitions, exhibitions, and programs that feature concerns relevant to the everyday lives of students and other visitors. “I think art, artists, and art history have the potential to challenge a culture’s preconceived notions of itself and enlighten us to other ways of understanding the world,” she said. “Having these art works at the museum will enable us to have conversations about difficult topics from multiple points of view.”

Page 4 is what Kaphar calls a ‘visual reparation’ and belongs to a series of tar portraits imagining enslaved sitters as freed men and women. By representing them in historical dress reflective of a status above the one they lived, Kaphar visually frees his sitter from enslavement. The face of the subject is obscured by the use of tar, which suggests the sitter’s invisibility. “Kaphar’s artistic practice actively engages with art history in order to investigate its representational inequities, with regard to both what is represented, and who is doing the representing,” said Aleesa Alexander, assistant curator of American art.

In the case of Page 4, the painting was created with specific reference to Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, which contains lists of Jefferson’s slaves, many identified only by their first names. The full title of the painting is Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, January 1774, Goliath, Hercules, Jupiter, Gill, Fanny, Ned, Sucky, Frankey, Gill, Nell, Bella, Charles, Jenny, Betty, June, Toby, Duna (sic), Cate, Hannah, Rachael, George, Ursula, George, Bagwell, Archy, Frank, Bett, Scilla, ? , 2. While Kaphar’s style references the traditional genre of portraiture, his methods of addressing the canvas’s surface—through cutting, nailing, and covering his figures with tar—is decidedly contemporary. “Given that Stanford was also built on a farm, and that the Stanfords employed Chinese laborers, having this piece in our collection will generate interesting parallels worthy of exploration and discussion,” said Alexander. Page 4 is the first work by Kaphar to enter the Cantor’s collection and will be on display in the exhibition The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950 February 23–August 18, 2019.

Do Ho Suh, Cause & Effect, with Suh’s Screen in the background, as installed at the Cantor Arts Center.

Cause & Effect is composed of hundreds of small, colorful, acrylic figures, which form a monumentally-scaled, cone-shaped chandelier suspended from the ceiling and reaching almost to the floor. The interconnectedness of the figures, which sit upon each other’s shoulders, suggest the weight and inescapability of one’s history. Suh’s work, which often references domestic architecture and decoration, questions cultural and aesthetic differences between his native Korea and his adopted homes in the United States and Europe. “Adding this visually compelling and complex work to our collection will allow us to continue to have important discussions about transnational identity and how we comprehend the past while living in the present,” Dackerman said.

Cause & Effect is a bold and important work, signaling the Cantor’s commitment to exhibit more works of contemporary art by artists from Asia,” said Padma D. Maitland, Patrick J. J. Maveety Assistant Curator of Asian Art. This is the first work by Suh to be added to the Cantor’s collection and is on display with two other works by the artist in the exhibition Do Ho Suh: The Spaces in Between.