Holiday Arts Preview : Visual
“A Tribute to Anita Reiner” at the Phillips Collection (through Jan. 4)
The career of Anita Reiner, one of Washington’s most passionate contemporary art collectors, was given shape by her early experiences at the Phillips Collection. As a young collector, she visited the famous Mark Rothko room when it was first installed in the 1960s. While there, an elderly gentlemen inquired about her response to the work, which she initially dismissed. This stranger told Reiner, “Young lady, you always have to meet new art half way.” She later found out that this man was museum founder Duncan Phillips, and she never forgot his words.
Reiner passed away in August of last year, and this tribute exhibit is the first to explore her landmark collection. At its center is Anselm Kiefer’s “Dein blondes Haar, Margarete (Your golden Hair, Marguerite)” of 1981, recently gifted to the Phillips by Reiner’s family in her memory. The other 12 works in the exhibition, selected from Reiner’s collection, are by Mimmo Paladino, Robert Mapplethorpe, Fred Wilson, Katharina Fritsch, Yayoi Kusama, Wangechi Mutu, Shilpa Gupt, Zhang Huan, Gabriel Orozco, El Anatsui, Shirin Neshat and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
“The Intimate Diebenkorn” and “Sculpture Now 2014” at the Katzen Arts Center (through Dec. 14)
Foremost of the remarkable exhibitions now at American University’s Katzen Center is “The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper: 1949-1992,” the first show produced by the Diebenkorn Foundation. Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was the painter’s painter. One would be hard pressed to find a working artist today that does not adore this man’s work. It is painting as the idea in itself, which seems to speak about everything – about an artist in his environment, but also about things transcending any singular time, place or individual. “The idea is to get everything right,” Diebenkorn once said, rather prophetically. This gem of a show features 40 of Diebenkorn’s works on paper, most of which have never been publicly viewed. The selected works of pencil and ink drawings, collages of torn paper and watercolors portray a richly intimate glimpse into the artist’s evolution spanning more than 40 years. Also on view is the Washington Sculptors Group’s 30th anniversary exhibition, “Sculpture Now 2014.” The notion of sculpture has evolved dramatically in the last thirty years. In 1978, the art theorist Rosalind Krauss declared that sculpture as a discipline had collapsed because of the wide range of practices. More recently Johanna Burton remarked that the category of sculpture had not collapsed but was rather “a state of being.” Curated by AU Museum Director Jack Rasmussen, the exhibition endeavors to respond to Krauss and Burton’s speculation with a selection of contemporary sculpture.
“Eye on Elegance” at the DAR Museum (through Sept. 2015)
In “Eye on Elegance,” the DAR Museum uses its extraordinarily rich holdings of Maryland and Virginia quilts to examine regional styles prior to 1860. The exhibition seeks to reveal the true story behind each subtle, deceivingly beautiful masterpiece. Because historical knowledge of the quiltmakers is well preserved, one can identify these quilts by hyperlocal regions of Maryland or Virginia, and explore the makers’ histories, including the family and household members in each quilter’s home that may have helped stitch the tapestries. The show is divided into four sections: the ‘Appliqué’ section presents quilts and counterpanes of chintz appliqué, or with appliqué centers; the ‘Pieced’ section features mathematical stars, strippies and other designs; Baltimore and Maryland ‘Albums’ have their own section; and the ‘Migration’ section examines quilting designs moving between continents and to other regions of the United States.
“El Greco” at the National Gallery of Art (through Feb. 16)
The artist Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541-1614), universally known as El Greco, was born on the Greek island of Crete. Aspiring to success on a larger stage, he moved to Venice in his late twenties and absorbed the lessons of High Renaissance masters Titian and Tintoretto. He then departed for Rome, where he studied the work of Michelangelo and encountered mannerism, a style which defied the naturalism of Renaissance art. Relocating to Spain in 1576, El Greco spent the rest of his life in Toledo, where he achieved unprecedented mastery as a painter of Byzantine icons, developed an artistic vision that captured the religious fervor of Counter-Reformation Spain and defined something of the grainy, arid Spanish landscape that has shaped the aura of its cultural heritage from that point onward (think Don Quixote). The National Gallery has seven paintings by El Greco, one of the largest collections of his work in the United States. Four of them have recently returned from Spain, where they were featured in major exhibitions honoring the 400th anniversary of the artist’s death. The reunited paintings are joined here by three others from Dumbarton Oaks and the Phillips Collection and from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.