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Imagine: Abstract Paintings from the 1970s – On view through April 7, 2002

Each of the artists represented in this exhibition find their creative identity in the traditions that emerged in American abstraction after World War II, and particularly in relation to the ideas of art critic Clement Greenberg.


Friedel Dzubas, American, 1915 – 1994
Angel’s Wing, 1977
Acrylic on canvas
Gift of John and Mary Greenebaum

Greenberg coined the term Post-Painterly Abstraction to describe a way of painting that adopted the holistic all-overness of Jackson Pollock’s work and combined it with the non-painterly styles of Color-Field painters like Barnett Newmann and Mark Rothko. By spraying, throwing, and floating paint onto canvas, or using unusual tools such as brooms and rakes, the artists of this new tendency took the ideas of their Abstract Expressionist predecessors and transformed them into a concentration upon the formal interests of painting. Privileging flatness of surface and concentrating upon areas of pure color, they presented the painting as a material thing, a discrete visual event.

Imagine is an opportunity to examine large-scale paintings from the Speed’s collection that address the history of Post-Painterly Abstraction and to consider the breadth of ideas that these artists have contributed to contemporary art. Featuring works by Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, Edwin Ruda, and Friedel Dzubas, the exhibition has also been augmented with paintings from private collections by James Adley and Larry Poons.


Making Faces: Portraits from Louisville Collections
November, 20, 2001 – February 27, 2002


Portrait of Charles Ward Apthorp, Jr.
By John Singleton Copley
(American, 1738-1815)
Pastel on paper
Collection of Dr. and Mrs. R. Ted Steinbock

Drawn from outstanding private and institutional collections in the area, Making Faces: Portraits from Louisville Collections, presents some 25 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs, dating from colonial times to the 1990s. It includes a remarkable array of subjects from politicians to artists, sports heroes to soldiers, and famous individuals to intimate depictions of family.

Among the highlights of the show are two portraits by America’s greatest eighteenth-century painter, John Singleton Copley, Andy Warhol’s depiction of legendary jockey Willie Shoemaker, and Kentucky folk sculptor Donny Tolson’s portrait of Kentucky 34, Kenny Walker. Others include an arresting terracotta head of exiled Chinese leader Madame Chiang Kai-Shek by American sculptor Jo Davidson, Victor Hammer’s painting of Louisville mayor Charles P. Farnsley, and William Matthew Jouett’s engaging unfinished portrait of the Mitchell children.

Standing Yellow An Installation by Joan Tanner
October 30, 2001 – March 3, 2002


Standing Yellow, 2001
by Joan Tanner
Gift of Dale and David Hyman, Rowland D. and Eleanor B. Miller, Claude and Spencer Berry, and Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey P. Callen
Collection of The Speed Art Museum, 2001.18

In recent years noted California artist, Joan Tanner, has become interested in using a conjunction of industrial and waste materials in her work, acknowledging a debt to assemblage art while simultaneously engaging discussions about mass culture and issues of representation. Standing Yellow, like a number of her other works, is formed from plastic and metal debris, found in and around her home environment, as well as objects found in thrift stores and “Dollar” stores. The materials are assembled to form tableaux, over which Tanner has thrown and dripped an industrial paint called “Plastidip.” This gestural form of construction, with its allusion to both the expressive and the abject, is mounted on top of sheets of butyl rubber that, in turn, echo a pure, minimalist aesthetic. In combining these different references, Tanner is able to underplay the purely formal concerns of sculpture and to reintroduce narrative and social meaning into her work. The resulting sculpture posits questions about consumerism and obsolescence into the framework of a pure architecture of hope and renewal.

Accompanying the sculpture will be an exhibition of the working drawings that Tanner has made, giving insight into the way she has developed and realized the project.


A Brush with History: Paintings From the National Portrait Gallery
November 20, 2001 — January 27, 2002

A Brush with History: Paintings from the National Portrait Gallery includes 75 of the most important paintings from the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition includes portraits of American statesmen, artists, inventors, writers, educators, and scientists dating from the 18th- century to the present day. The portraits in A Brush with History reflect the range of the Gallery’s collection from John Smibert’s (from the 1720s) portrait of Anglican clergyman George Berkeley and Charles Willson Peale’s 1769 likeness of Maryland publisher Anne Green—one of America’s first woman publishers—to Andy Warhol’s 1984 Pop portrait of singer Michael Jackson and Ginny Stanford’s 1991 portrayal of renowned food essayist M.F.K. Fisher.


George S. Patton, Jr.
by Boleslaw Czedekowski
Oil on canvas, circa 1945
NPG.87.43
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution

The works demonstrate that unlike other genres, such as landscape or still life paintings, portraits are a collaboration. Each reveals the often complex relationships between the artist, the subject, and the patron, when it is a commissioned work. They are further shaped by their intended purpose, whether it is to record a national figure for public display or make a likeness of a loved one or friend for personal use. Adding to this intriguing mix are self-portraits, some of which were made to experiment with new techniques or compositions or for the sheer pleasure of self-expression.


Ben Franklin
By Joseph Siffred Duplessis
Oil on canvas, circa 1785
NPG.87.43
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for viewers because the very best of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection will be included. Most of the paintings have not traveled outside Washington because many have been on permanent display. Among the highlights of A Brush with History are: John Singleton Copley’s brilliant self-portrait of 1780-84 which shows the artist facing left (a difficult pose that could have involved the use of two mirrors); Henry Inman’s copy of a portrait by Charles Bird King of Cherokee leader Sequoyah (from about 1830), showing him with the alphabet he developed for the Cherokee language; painter Mary Cassatt portrayed by Edgar Degas as a token of their friendship (from about 1880-84), and finally Scientist George Washington Carver’s 1942 portrait by Betsy Graves Reyneau. The exhibition is sponsored in part by Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon. Tickets for the exhibition are $10 and are free for museum members. For a virtual tour of A Brush with History, click here.


Clay Mania
September 25 – January 2, 2002

Drawn from outstanding private collections throughout Louisville, the exhibition, Clay Mania: European and American Art Pottery from Louisville Collections, is featured in the Speed’s first-floor Focus Galleries. The exhibition presents over 35 exceptional pieces of pottery and porcelain produced between the 1880s and 1940s. During this period, the production and

Vase,about 1900 Earthenware,
designed by William Moorcroft (English, 1872-1945)
Produced by James Macintyre and Co., Burslem, England
Collection of Brad and Carla Sue Broecker
Photo by Kenneth Hayden

appreciation of such "artistic" pottery became a frenzied pursuit throughout Europe and the United States. Although pottery of artistic merit was certainly produced before this period, these decades witnessed an intense interest in the design, crafting, and decorating of ceramics.

As the exhibition shows, the aesthetics of art pottery varied widely, sometimes embracing reform-oriented movements like Art Nouveau, sometimes incorporating exotic influences from Asia, and sometimes seeking only to evoke nature. In every case, though, the goal was to elevate pottery to the level of fine art. The influence of nature, a particular strength of English art pottery, is elegantly expressed through the designs of William Moorcroft. The exhibition features excellent examples from his late 19th- and early 20th-century Florian line-pottery characterized by stylized flowers painted in shades of blue, green, and other colors. America’s premier art pottery, Rookwood, also embraced the natural world. The exhibition includes multiple Rookwood pieces executed by the pottery’s finest artists. Meanwhile, the influential Art Nouveau aesthetic is luxuriously represented by a massive Sèvres vase decorated with dancing figures and flowing foliage.

The exhibition also explores the highly individualistic side of the art pottery era. England’s Martin brothers, for example, produced truly unique, roguishly humorous figures of anthropomorphic birds. An especially fine example produced in 1892 ranks among the exhibition’s highlights. Equally distinctive are the paper-thin, spindled and folded pots of George Ohr, the self-proclaimed "greatest art potter on the Earth."

Modernism’s emphasis on abstract aesthetics and design for mass-production is evident in a sparse Wedgwood vessel created in the 1930s by the New Zealand-born designer, Keith Murray. Equally simple are pieces by Kentucky’s own Selden-Bybee and Cornelison potteries. Their work, like that of other folk-oriented potteries, influenced Modernists as well as later studio ceramists.


 

Gathering Light: Richard Ross Photography
September 11 — October 28, 2001

Gathering Light: Richard Ross Photography includes three series of photographs by internationally recognized artist, Richard Ross. Best known for his photographs of museum settings, Ross’s work is exhibited widely in both Europe and the United States. His editorial work can also be seen in NYTimes Magazine, LATimes Magazine, and Vogue. Gathering Light documents Ross’s decade-long exploration of the light found in both sacred and profane spaces. Religious sites, temples, burial chambers, and tourist sites have all been cast in the gaze of Ross’s vision, framed and frozen in a single glimpse of the camera. The images are the product of long exposures using only available light, which imbues them with a profound depth and stillness. Leelacyd, a new collaborative project between Ross and his daughter, Leela, will be shown alongside the Gathering Light series.


From the series Leelacyd

In Leelacyd Ross photographed Leela just before she headed off to high school each morning. Using the same frame and format in each photograph, Ross captures his daughter’s moods – tired or awake, happy or sad – and creates a deadpan document of teenage style in California.

Temple of Ananda, Bagan Myanmar, 1990
From the series Gathering Light

Completing the exhibition is Ross’s Fovea. Shot with an inexpensive Diana Camera (or Holga 120), Fovea takes its name from the small depression in the human eye near the center of the retina that constitutes the area of most acute vision. Fovea is a large-scale installation work that relates to ideas of seeing and memory. A continually growing project, Fovea currently consists of more than 120 photographs that have been culled from Ross’s family album and other bodies of work. Taken over the past 30 years, the images form a kind of journal. However, unlike Leelacyd, Fovea has no unifying chronology, instead relying upon the repetitive and democratizing nature of a randomly installed grid format to bind its diverse images together.

The Ross exhibition is organized by The Speed Art Museum and curated by Julien Robson. Admission to the exhibition is free. The Gathering Light catalog will be available for purchase in the museum shop.

Dupont Manual High School Responses portrait project.


William Wegman, Glamour Puss, 1999, Color Polaroid, © William Wegman 1999.

William Wegman: Fashion Photographs
May 22 — August 12, 2001

An exhibition of fashion photography by William Wegman, Fashion Photographs, will be on display at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky from May 22 to August 12, 2001. These 47 large-scale color Polaroids take their inspiration from the world of haute-couture, and feature designer clothes by famous names such as Moschino, Anna Sui and Issey Miyake. This project was realized in part by the generous contribution of costumes and accessories provided by Saks Fifth Avenue.

We Gratefully Acknowledge Our Sponsors:

Sam Swope Buick

Cross Motors Pontiac GMC Truck

Sam Swope Pontiac GMC Truck

Sam Swope Cadillac

Brown Brothers Cadillac

John Jones Chevrolet Pontiac Oldsmobile Buick

Slone Buick Pontiac GMC Truck

Swope Pontiac

Smiser & Carter Chevrolet Buick Oldsmobile Pontiac

Browning Chevrolet Pontiac GMC Truck

Ralston Purina

Artist William Wegman is best known for his portrait series of his beloved Weimaraner family. He has had numerous one-man shows, and a retrospective of his work recently traveled throughout the United States and Europe, including a venue at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. He has created video segments for Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live and Nickelodeon; he is also the author of a number of children's books, including Cinderella, ABC, and most recently The Night Before Christmas.

Wegman was one of the leading conceptual artists of the 1970s when he began doing pioneering work in video. He purchased his first Weimaraner, named after the surrealist artist, Man Ray, in 1970, and began using him as a model. Man Ray was propelled into celebrity status and appeared on the covers of Avalanche, ArtForum and Village Voice. Wegman described Man Ray as a natural model who loved to work and hold a pose. Wegman dressed his next Weimaraner, Fay Ray, in clothes to give her height and personality, and thus embarked on a fresh artistic direction. Wegman remarked:

"I found that she looked stunning and imposing, and I began to move to another level of photography using Fay and her children as character types. Through photography and costuming, my dogs continually transform and disguise themselves in amazing ways." Wegman explained his love of working with dogs: "I'm like a sculptor who uses clay and then has a tactile affinity for it. I have that for the dogs."

While Wegman's work is regarded as humorous, it is at the same time, serious art. Peter Morrin, Executive Director of the Speed Museum, explained, "William Wegman first came to prominence in the early 1970s for his videos featuring Man Ray and for an extended series of cartoon-like drawings. Wegman's early deadpan style took its manner from conceptual art, but he added narrative elements and an absurdist context, which used his Weimaraners to question the establishment in the waning years of the Vietnam War. Wegman has subsequently used his dogs as performance artists providing a surreal take on every myth and convention of American society. His genius in using humor to make serious art is unparalleled."

Fashion Photographs features Wegman's Weimaraners in an array of haute couture. Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Gaultier are just a sampling of the designer fashions represented in these elegant photographs. Elaborate hats, sunglasses, wigs, luxurious leather gloves and beaded handbags are sported from Weimaraner heads and paws; and bikinis and evening wear drape from their sleek forms, embodying style in its most imaginative construct.

William Wegman: Fashion Photographs has been organized by the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama. Curated by David Moos and Mary Dinaberg. Ticket prices are adults $7, seniors $5, students and children $3, and free to museum members. Tickets may be purchased at the museum. Fashion Photographs as well as additional books by William Wegman will be available for purchase in the museum shop.


Jacob Lawrence: The Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series of 1938-40
February 6 — April 22, 2001

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) is considered one of the foremost American painters of the 20th century. An African-American artist who grew up in Harlem during the Depression, Lawrence began his career around 1935 in the lingering vibrant atmosphere of the Harlem Renaissance.

The Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series of 1938-40 are among Lawrence’s greatest achievements as a painter. Including 32 and 31 images, respectively, the narratives document the struggles and heroic achievements of these two 19th-century Abolitionists. Executed in tempera, the images are remarkable in their simplicity, vivid color, boldly expressive style, and use of the series format to convey narrative content. Ellen Harkins Wheat, author of the catalog Jacob Lawrence: The Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series of 1938-40, describes the artist’s work in this way. "At times powerfully exquisite, at other times raw, even awkward, their rough magic and expressive strength speak to us through time of the often-neglected episodes of black American history and the black experience." In Lawrence’s own words:

If at times my productions do not express the conventionally beautiful,there is always an effort to express the universal beauty of man’s continuous struggle to lift his social position and to add dimension to his spiritual being. The images include captions written by the artist, who thoroughly researched the two legendary figures before beginning work on the series.

We are grateful for the generosity of the following sponsors

Presenting Sponsor:

Additional Sponsors:

David A. Jones Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler
Kentucky Department of Education, Division of Equity
Alderwoman Denise Bentley
Central District Baptist Assoc., Rev. Thurmond Coleman, Moderator
Alderwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton
The Links, Inc., Louisville Chapter
New Zion Baptist Church, Rev. A. Russell Awkard, Pastor
Alderman George Unseld
Eta Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Dr. and Mrs. Robert Biggerstaff
Lewis D. Cole
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Louisville Alumnae Chapter
Mrs. Thelma Dunlevy
Louisville Chapter of The Girl Friends, Inc.
Charlie W. Johnson
The Lincoln Foundation
Louisville Urban League
Dr. and Mrs. Thomas L. Matthew
National Council of Negro Women, Louisville Section
Niche Marketing – The Louisville Black Pages
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Dr. and Mrs. Sam Robinson
Sue Speed
Eta Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Coalition of 100 Black Women
The Louisville Moles
Donna and Chase A. Burks Sanders

Including these series, Lawrence created five historical sequences overall; the other three are Toussaint L’Ouverture, 1937-38; The Migration of the Negro, 1940-41; and John Brown, 1941. In addition to the paintings in the Frederick Douglass and Hariett Tubman Series, the Speed has obtained 15 screenprints from the Toussaint L’Ouverture Series which will be on display in a gallery adjacent to the Douglass/Tubman series. The prints in this exhibition were lent and published in 1986, by Spradling-Ames, Corporation in collaboration with printmaker Lou Stovall Workshops, Inc. in Washington, D.C. Mr. Stovall will present a lecture about his collaboration with Lawrence on Thursday, February 8 at 6:00 p.m. at the Museum (see attached release).

Francois Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture was a black slave who lived in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) during the 1700s where he directed the thirteen-year rebellion of Haitian slaves against their French masters and plantation owners. He eventually became governor of the colony of Haiti, before being overthrown by Napoleon.

Throughout his career, Lawrence continued to focus on themes of human strife and determination. Although the Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series were executed early in Lawrence’s artistic development, the images remained dear to the artist throughout his lifetime and embody some of his strongest work.

The exhibition is organized and owned by the Hampton University Art Museum. It is made possible through the generosity of community support, most notably presenting sponsor for the exhibition, the GE Fund. Members of GE’s African American Forum, an employee community service group, will provide volunteer support for the exhibition.

Jacob Lawrence Links:

Jacob Lawrence Catalog Raisonne Project

This site is a wonderful place to start learning about Jacob Lawrence. Featuring biographical material coupled with a few of Lawrence’s works, the Jacob Lawrence Catalog Raisonne Project also offers data about upcoming exhibitions.

www.jacoblawrence.org

Jacob Lawrence: Storyteller Jacob Lawrence: Storyteller contains lessons and activities for K-6 students and teachers, plus Artist and Artwork information, for all ages.

www.artsednet.getty.edu/ArtsEdNet/Resources/jacoblawrence/contents.htm

Underground Railroad Links

Face the life and death decisions of a Maryland slave in this interactive feature, which includes period music, historical photos, classroom ideas, and more on this National Geographic interactive journey. (Grades 5-12)

www.nationalgeographic.com/features/99/railroad/index.html

 

 
 
 


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