Visual Arts: Now & Later
After a few sunless months holed away in electrically heated offices, and with the final weeks of winter testing both stamina and patience, the collective mind is caught in a temporal schism. It tries to propel itself beyond the current moment, projecting even its short-term plans and ambitions somewhere just past the wintry horizon, where the warm and ardent embrace of spring lies patiently waiting for adventure. Then the diet and exercise will commence, muscles and ligaments will be dusted off, and the adventures will be had. Spring is an opportunity for reinvigoration, and it has come early to the visual arts of Washington, D.C. Here is a look at what is on view NOW and a peek into what is coming LATER.
THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART NOW: The Pre-Raphaelites Through May 19 The National Gallery is taking things back to the 1850s with an expansive exhibition of the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design 1848 – 1900. Featuring sculptures, works on paper, and decorative objects, the exhibition details the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. LATER: Albrecht Dürer March 24 – June 9 The German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471– 1528) is widely considered one of history’s true artistic geniuses, prized across cultures and centuries for his transcendent integration of scientific and artistic innovation. While Dürer’s paintings are prized, his most influential works are his drawings, watercolors, engravings, and woodcuts, which allow scholars and viewers alike into his process of creation, executed with highly refined precision and breathtaking craftsmanship. Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina pulls together the finest collection of Dürer’s drawings and watercolors from the Albertina in Vienna, Austria.
THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION NOW: Angels, Demons & Savages Through May 12 With Angels, Demons, and Savages, The Phillips Collection constructs a visual narrative between the works of three renowned 20th century artists who helped dismantled the narrative tradition. The exhibit reveals an intimate story in the wild and furious tumult of American abstract expressionism, focusing on the relation- ship between Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), French painter Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985), and a lesser known American artist and patron Alfonso Ossorio (1916–1990). LATER: Georges Braque | The Laib Wax Room June 8 – September 1 | March 2 Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life, 1928-1945 will be an in-depth study of Georges Braque’s (1882–1963) groundbreaking work with the still life—which he pioneered through cubism alongside Picasso in the first decades of the 20th century—framed within the context of Europe’s revolutionary political climate. Meanwhile, the Laib Wax Room, opening March 2, will be the first permanent installation at the Phillips since the beloved Rothko Room opened in 1960. Lined with fragrant beeswax and lit by a single bare lightbulb, the Laib Wax Room, by German artist Wolgang Laib, will offer a small fragrant cubby in the original Phillips house, offering a personal meditative encounter that recalls the origin of painting with encaustics around 100 AD.
THE TEXTILE MUSEUM NOW: The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art Through March 10, 2013 Ottoman art reflects the wealth, abundance, and influence of an empire that spanned seven centuries and three continents. The Sultan’s Garden chronicles how stylized tulips, carnations, hyacinths, honey- suckles, roses, and rosebuds came to embellish nearly all media produced by the Ottoman court beginning in the mid-16th century. The Sultan’s Garden unveils the influence of Ottoman floral style and traces its continuing impact through the textile arts—some of the most luxurious and technically complex productions of the empire. LATER: Out of Southeast Asia: Art that Sustains April 12 – Oct. 13 Historical textile artworks from The Textile Museum’s magnificent Southeast Asian collections will be displayed alongside the work of four contemporary textile artists and designers and weavers.
THE HIRSHHORN NOW: Out of the Ordinary Through May 19 Starting with Marcel Duchamp and his “Readymade” artwork of ordinary mass-produced objects, modern and contemporary artists have dealt head-on with this preoccupation of the banal, creating works that use the process of copying, faking and duplicating as strategies of artistic invention. With their current exhibit, Out of the Ordinary, The Hirshhorn uses sculptures such as Robert Gober’s oversized stick of butter and Christo’s sealed-off storefront to present the immaterial grandeur of life’s most common occurrences. LATER: Directions: Jennie C. Jones: Higher Resonance May 16 to Oct. 27, 2013 Music, art history, and African-American culture intermingle in the art of Brooklyn-based artist Jennie C. Jones (b. 1968), who creates audio collages, paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that explore the formal and conceptual junctures between modernist abstraction and black avant-garde music, particularly jazz.
AMERICAN ART MUSEUM NOW: Nam June Paik: Global Visionary Through August 11 The artwork and ideas of the Korean-born artist Nam June Paik were a major influence on late 20th century art. Nam June Paik: Global Visionary offers an unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method by featuring key artworks that convey Paik’s extraordinary accomplishments as a major international artist as well as material drawn from the artist’s personal archive, which was acquired by the American Art Museum in 2009. LATER: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color April 12 – July 28 Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color fully examines the remarkable career of Thomas Day (1801–1861), a free African American who owned and operated one of North Carolina’s most successful cabinet shops prior to the Civil War. Day combined his own unique motifs with popular designs to create a distinctive style readily identified with his shop. Beginning in the 1820s, Day produced fine furniture for prominent white citizens, and was noted for both designing interior spaces and the furnishings. His surviving furniture and architectural woodwork still represent the finest of nineteenth-century craftsmanship and aesthetics.
CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART NOW: Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s Through April 7 Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s explores our city’s thriving cultural underground during the 1980s, giving visual form to the raucous energy of Go-Go music and a world- renowned punk and hardcore scene, demonstrating its place in the history of street art as well as that of America’s capital city. LATER: David Levinthal: War Games May 11 – September 1 David Levinthal (b. 1949) is a central figure in American postmodern photography. His work stages uncanny tableaux using toys and miniature dioramas, which stand as a heavy critique of the way society deals with and perceives conflict. His groundbreaking project Hitler Moves East (1975–77), a series of imagined scenes from World War II’s Russian front, first established his reputation, becoming a touchstone for the iconoclastic generation of American photographers.★