Opening April 26, 2014
The Museum’s African art gallery will be closed from September 2013 through April 2014 for a major reinstallation. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Daniel Foundation, the gallery will be renovated and reorganized. These updates will incorporate works of art that have not previously been on view, photo panels, maps, and a flat screen featuring footage of African art in use, along with other interpretive media. The Museum is also developing a mobile application for the new gallery. The first phase of the renovation opened in February 2013, with a new gallery dedicated to the Dick Jemison collection of African Ceramics. The main gallery will open the weekend of April 26th, 2014. More details to come!
January 22 - April 8, 2012 // Free
Vietnam created the most sophisticated ceramics in Southeast Asia. Though they borrowed from China, Vietnamese potters explored their own indigenous tastes and developed their own production techniques. As early as the 1970s, members of the Asian Art Society at the Museum recognized the beauty of Vietnamese ceramics and the potential for creating a significant collection in an under-appreciated field. The Museum quickly amassed a core group of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century blue-and-white export wares, modeled on the great blue-and-whites from the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen in China. The Museum bought more Vietnamese export wares at the rich international auctions of shipwreck materials that have revolutionized the study of Southeast Asian ceramics since the year 2000.
In 2010 the Vietnamese ceramics collection of Mr. William M. Spencer III, long-time Museum patron and founding member of the Asian Art Society, was bequeathed to the Museum. His gift greatly strengthened the Museum’s holdings of Vietnamese ceramics made for domestic use and never exported, a neglected area in which it has been difficult to find material. This donation, and the continuing judicious purchase of outstanding pieces over the years, has resulted in an extensive collection, with many fine, undamaged, and unique examples. Along with The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Birmingham Museum of Art now has one of the three finest collections of Vietnamese ceramics in North America.
Dragons and Lotus Blossoms: Vietnamese Ceramics from the Birmingham Museum of Art is the largest exhibition in the United States to date devoted solely to Vietnamese ceramics. The exhibition is co-curated by Donald A. Wood and John Stevenson, internationally recognized scholar and expert on Vietnamese ceramics. The entire Birmingham Museum of Art collection of over two hundred pieces, including a Le Dynasty jar recently named by Apollo magazine as one of the top ten museum acquisitions of 2011 in the world, is on display and illustrated in the accompanying catalogue. The catalogue includes essays by John Stevenson, Philippe Truong, and Donald A. Wood.
Dragons and Lotus Blossoms: Vietnamese Ceramics from the Birmingham Museum of Art is supported by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the J & H Weldon Foundation, Inc.
Bohorfoush Gallery //Through March 4, 2012
In August, Birmingham lost a remarkable artist, teacher, and member of our community with the passing of Chris Clark (1958-2011). Clark’s vibrant quilts, furniture, walking sticks, and other painted and assembled objects found admirers among eager folk art collectors in Alabama while garnering national attention as well. The Museum pays homage to his talent and special gifts in an exhibition, Celebrate Life: The Art of Chris Clark, which opened last month for viewing through the end of the year.
This exhibition is not a retrospective, but will contain an overview of many of Clark’s favorite subjects and illustrate the variety of media he explored through his creativity and willingness to take risks with a variety of materials. Clark’s quilts combine traditional quilting with vibrant painted images. A deeply religious person, he frequently depicts Biblical scenes, scripture, as well as church interiors and worship services. In addition to religious subjects, Clark often depicts jazz and blues musicians and children at play. Many of these same themes found their way into his brightly painted furniture.
In 1990, Clark’s vision began to fail due to diabetes. Believing he would eventually lose his eyesight entirely, he resolved to pursue a longtime desire to paint while he still could. He began painting on scraps of wood and flea market furniture, but soon after his grandmother taught him to piece and stitch quilts, the artist combined the two mediums, to lively and colorful effect. Celebrate Life: The Art of Chris Clark allows us to honor Clark’s artistic legacy even as we, as a community, reflect on his passing.
To read an article celebrating the life and art of Chris Clark published by The Birmingham News, please click here.
MAy 15 - December 31, 2011 // BohouRFoush gAlleRyThe art of quilting enjoys a long and rich heritage within African-American communities, particularly in the Deep South. Drawing from the Museum’s permanent collection of American quilts—among the largest in the country—this exhibition will explore the African-American quilting tradition, from vibrant patterns to whimsical pictorials. Among the featured quilts are masterworks by Nora Ezell, Yvonne Wells, Chris Clark, and the Freedom Quilting Bee.
Selected Works from the Rowe Collection
Jemison Galleries // October 9 - December 31, 2011 // FREE
Jean-Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) was one of nineteenth-century France’s most popular and influential artists. Although he was a painter and sculptor, he was also a prominent printmaker. Daumier produced over four thousand lithographs, many of which were satires depicting the lighter aspects of French politics, society, and culture. This fall the BMA will host an exhibition of 169 lithographs that treat subjects such as Art, Drinking and Dining, Feminism, Gallic Life, Love and Family Life, and the Theater. Daumier made these works for illustrations in popular daily newspapers, thus providing art that could be viewed and enjoyed by all. Fourteen prints in the exhibition remain intact in the original newspapers, while the rest were long ago cut out to be appreciated as stand-alone works of art. For the 21st-century viewer, these prints bring to life the quotidian quirks of 19th-century Parisians. The poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire referred to Daumier as “one of the most important men… [not] only of caricature, but also of modern art.” While his skill as a painter and sculptor may be his greatest claim today, in his own time it was the humor, wit, and audacity evident in Art for the Masses for which Daumier was most celebrated.
Daumier: Art for the Masses is supported by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Patton and the Lydia Eustis Rogers Fund.
June 12, 2011 – ocToBeR 2, 2011 // ARRingTon gAlleRy // FREE
The Birmingham Museum of Art is proud to present the first showing of Indian sculpture from the collection of the Callahan family. Over twenty sculptures in stone and bronze depict a variety of Hindu and Buddhist deities that date from the second through the eighteenth centuries. These include a rare third century image of Hariti, the Buddhist protector of children, to an elegant sixteenth century image of The Dancing Shiva (Shiva Nataraja). The Callahan family collection shows the great diversity of Indian iconography and the brilliance of Indian craftsmen.
February 20, 2011 - April 17, 2011 // Jemison Galleries // FREE
Exhibition Focuses on Photography's Role in South Africa's Dynamic Transformation
This exhibition features the work of 18 photographers, new media and video artists, who lived and worked in South Africa during the apartheid era (1948-1994), though a few now live elsewhere. Darkroom’s eight sections highlight the ways that these artists have addressed South African culture from various perspectives, and their increased presence in the global art world since 1994. It examines the use of analog and digital media, still and moving pictures, and two- and three-dimensional formats to express relationships between mid-twentieth-century approaches and more recent ones, and differing concerns among artists of successive generations.
The show has a particular resonance to Birmingham audiences. “There are remarkable parallels between Birmingham’s Civil Rights history and the Apartheid Era in South Africa,” said Ron Platt, the BMA’s Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “The photographs and video in this exhibition vividly convey this time in South African history, and I wanted to share with our audience how people there lived through something remarkably similar to what happened in Alabama, and how what happened here impacted people on the other side of the World. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu often cited Birmingham’s nonviolent demonstrations as inspirational to the Apartheid Movement.”
About the Art
Through the combination of vintage prints, recent photographs, photo-based installations, and video art, Darkroom underscores photography’s role in documenting some of apartheid’s most riveting moments, while considering myriad ways that South Africans resisted apartheid, and have emerged from it. Prior to Darkroom’s exhibition in Richmond at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from August 21 to October 24, 2010, these works had never been shown together in the United States in this context.
“Darkroom provides a chance for audiences in Richmond and Birmingham to see works by these internationally celebrated artists who have contributed greatly to global trends in contemporary art through their perseverance and technical excellence,” says Tosha Grantham, exhibition curator. “Juxtaposing historical material and recent work emphasizes the camera’s power and possibilities, and the ways that these artists have explored this conceptually in their work.”
Accompanying the exhibition is the catalogue Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa since 1950 by Tosha Grantham. The book won the gold medal in the Multicultural Non-Fiction Adult category of the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards.
About the Artists
Darkroom includes 18 artists who span four generations: fourteen are South African; four are from England, the United States, and Germany, and either made South Africa their home or created significant bodies of work there. The works were made from 1950 to 2008. Featured artists are: William Kentridge, Robin Rhode, Jürgen Schadeberg, Nontsikelelo Veleko and Sue Williamson.
This exhibition has been organized by the Virg inia Museum of Fine Arts with the support of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment, The Andy Warhol Foundat ion for the Visual Arts , the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundat ion. General exhibition support is provided by the City of Birming ham and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
November 7, 2010 – January 2011
In 1988, Birmingham couple David and Natalie Sperling made a gift to the Museum of a classic black and white photograph by the French master Jacques-Henri Lartigue. In 1991, the couple initiated the tradition of making gifts of art to the Museum in honor of their friends. The Sperlings’ gifts now number over twenty works of art that range from classic European black and white photography to contemporary photographs, prints, drawings and sculpture. This exhibition brings these works together as an occasion to celebrate the Sperlings’ generosity and dedication to their friends and to the Museum.
October 4, 2009 - January 10, 2010
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery offers an unprecedented opportunity to experience American history through more than 230 masterpieces from one of the finest and oldest collections of American art in the world. From the arrival of the first European settlers to the Gilded Age, this major exhibition tells America’s story through paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, furniture, silver, and ceramics from Yale University’s renowned collection.
At the heart of the exhibition is a group of early American portraits and history paintings by John Trumbull, including the original version of the iconic The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, which has graced the pages of nearly every American history textbook and the $2 bill. This is the first time these paintings have traveled as a group since the artist presented them to Yale in 1832.
Among the exhibition's painted treasures are two versions of Edward Hicks's "Peaceable Kingdom;" rare portraits by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, and Thomas Eakins; stunning landscapes by Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church; and captivating scenes of American life by Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, and many others. Decorative arts highlights include silver crafted by Paul Revere, the earliest pair of American silver candlesticks, a gold sword owned by 19th-century naval hero Stephen Decatur, and flamboyant silver objects made by Tiffany & Company. Superb examples of 18th- and 19th-century furniture add to this rich survey of the history of American artistry and craftsmanship.
These treasures will never again travel as a group. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance to celebrate our nation’s heritage through 250 years of American masterpieces.
This exhibition was organized by the Yale University Art Gallery and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.
This small focused exhibition comprises 10 works by Clara Weaver Parrish, Rose Pettus Weaver, and Rosalind Tarver Lipscomb. The story of this multi-generational family of women artists began in Selma, Alabama.
Most famous among the Weavers is Clara Weaver Parrish (1861-1925), who was born at Emerald Place Plantation in Dallas County, Alabama, and raised in Selma. Her parents, William and Lucia Weaver, encouraged Clara and her siblings to develop their artistic talents. In the 1880s, Clara was sent to New York to study art at the Art Students League, where her teachers included William Merritt Chase, Henry Siddons Mowbray, and Julian Alden Weir. By the 1890s, Clara, now married to William Peck Parrish of Selma, was exhibiting widely, showing her work at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the Paris Exposition of 1900. In 1910, she exhibited at both the Paris Salon and the Royal Academy in London. Clara Weaver Parrish also achieved fame as a designer of stained glass windows for Louis Comfort Tiffany, and her work can be seen in churches in Alabama, as well as in New York City.
While Clara Weaver Parrish pursued a career as a painter, her sister Rose Pettus Weaver (1863-1954) honed her skills as a sculptor, excelling at carving wood in the Beaux-Arts style. The intricate panels she carved for a staircase in her family's Selma home are a testament to her exceptional talent. A niece, Anne Weaver Norton (1905-1982), would find early success as an illustrator of children's books, but would become best known as an abstract sculptor. The grounds of her West Palm Beach, Florida, home are now open to the public as the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens.
Clara Weaver Parrish's great-niece, Rosalind Tarver Lipscomb (1920-), continues the artistic legacy established by her forebearers. Raised in Americus, Georgia, and now a resident of Huntsville, Alabama, Rosalind Tarver Lipscomb is an accomplished painter of portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. The Birmingham Museum of Art is grateful to her for entrusting treasured heirlooms to their care in order to tell the story of this important family of Alabama artists.
June 6, 2010 - September 19, 2010
It’s amazing how artists looking at similar things come up with completely different points of view. Landscape paintings especially demonstrate this fact. Our exhibition Two Landscapes: Different Points of View takes two 18th-century landscape paintings from the permanent collection, one Japanese and one Italian, and compares and contrasts them. Who were the artists? What were their backgrounds? What materials did they use? How did they interpret landscape subjects?
Western landscape painting originated in ancient Rome and its environs, when panoramic vistas became popular wall decorations in private residences. Sometimes these mural paintings were illusionistic, creating an environment that seemed to dissolve the walls and expand the space of the room. While landscape passages can be glimpsed in the background of some paintings from the Middle Ages, it was not until the fifteenth century that artists focused on depicting the natural world as realistically as possible on a two-dimensional surface. Artists from Florence and Venice led these efforts.
During this time landscapes remained secondary to the narrative subject, functioning as backgrounds to religious scenes and portraits. In the sixteenth century, however, the landscape as an independent genre was born. Several areas of Italy became known for the landscape paintings produced, but artists from northern Italy dominated this new type of art.
By the time this painting was made, landscapes were enormously popular for collectors. Yet, within the overall hierarchy of genres, they continued to be ranked as inferior subjects by the Academy. It was only in the nineteenth century that the status of landscapes was forever changed by the increasing number of artists who focused solely on the subject.
Over the centuries the Japanese have borrowed much from neighboring China and Korea. In the arts, painting, calligraphy, sculpture, and many of the decorative arts all have strong continental connections. Yet, from early times the Japanese have also maintained and promoted a native aesthetic that stands markedly apart.
The earliest true landscapes that survive in Japan date from the mid-8th century and are ink drawings on hemp cloth that show figures seated near a body of water amidst low rolling hills topped with trees. Such scenes evolved into what is called Yamato-e (Pictures of Japan) that became the preferred style for pictures of native Japanese scenery.
In contrast to this was a style of landscape painting imported from China wherein scenes were filled with tall, craggy distant mountains with streams and pavilions. Landscapes were painted with a variety of strong and subtle brushwork that brought depth and definition to the scenes. Using this style, which was popular in Japan from the 15th century on, Sh?haku creates a highly personalized, highly individualized landscape. The rocks in the foreground are done with sharp dark angular strokes, as is the trunk of the nearby tree. Foliage and the distant mountains on the other hand are done with blurred washes in medium to light tones that create a sense of depth in the scene. Trees on the distant mountains are quick, staccato strokes that remind us today of telephone poles. With a few quick strokes for the buildings in the distance, the scene is finished.