Tuscaloosa native William Christenberry has spent his lifetime exploring and recording Alabama’s Black Belt, particularly rural Hale County, where his grandparents, who had lived since 1917. Christenberry was born in 1936, the same year that Fortune magazine dispatched writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans to Hale County to work jointly on an article about sharecroppers. This collaboration led to their famous book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The text and images of the book so resonated with the young Christenberry when he came upon it in 1960 that it set his creative course for life.
In 1961 Christenberry moved from Alabama, eventually settling in Washington DC, where he still lives and works. Except for yearly forays home, Christenberry has spent his adult life away from Alabama, a fact that has greatly influenced his artistic approach, which stems from his early experiences and memories.
Christenberry set about a lifelong aesthetic reconstruction of Hale County through drawings, photographs, sculpture and mixed media tableaux that conflated his own personal vision with a larger rural Southern consciousness. His work exists as a prolonged investigation into both the distinctiveness and gradual dissolution of his beloved native land.
In 2009 the Kress Foundation sponsored a photographic campaign at various museums throughout the United States to document the installation of Kress works using panoramic photography.
The Birmingham Museum of Art is pleased to present an after-hours experience on the first Thursday of each month. Wander the galleries, sip cocktails in the garden, catch a movie, or sit down with friends for tapas at Oscar's. The Museum is open for your enjoyment until 9PM.
General Admission is FREE to enjoy First Thursdays: After Hours at the Museum. *
*If you wish to enjoy tapas or cocktails, see below for charges associated with those items.
5 - 9PM // Open Galleries
Every one of our beautiful galleries will be open throughout the evening. With a collection of over 24,000 works of art, we are constantly rotating our growing permanent collection and featuring newly acquired works, ensuring that each visit to the Museum is a fresh experience.
5 - 9PM // Tapas & Cocktails
Enjoy the best of seasonal and local dishes from Oscar's Café! All you can eat tapas is available for $13, and specialty beverages are available for $5. Members, bring your membership card for a discount - only $10 for tapas and 10% off of drinks! Click here to see the menu!
5:30 - 6:30PM // Piano by Willie Jackson // 8th Avenue Lobby
6PM // Gallery Talk: "A Few of My Favorite Things" // Asian Galleries
Join Senior Curator and Curator of Asian Art Donald C. Wood, Ph.D. for a tour of his favorite items in the Asian art collection.
6 - 8PM // Drop-in Holiday Card Making Workshop
6 - 7:30PM // Wine Tasting // Oscar's Café
Our friends from Hop City Birmingham will be pouring a selection of wines for you to sample! Come find your new favorite!
6:30 - 7:30PM // Embellishments holiday handbell performance
6:30PM // Drop-in and Draw
7PM // Film Screening // Miracle on 34th Street (1947, 96 minutes) // Steiner Auditorium
7:30 - 8:30PM // Live Holiday Jazz with Foxxy's Friends
Albert Bierstadt's masterpiece, Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California (1865), has been reinstalled following several months of conspicuous absence from the Styslinger Gallery of American Art. The work was removed from public view to undertake minor conservation of both the painting and its original frame. This national treasure will now be ready for its "star turn" in the major exhibition American Art and the Civil War, on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. from November 16, 2012 until April 28, 2013. The exhibition will travel to one additional venue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it will run from May 21, 2013 till September 2, 2013.
Measuring more than five by eight feet, Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California presents the viewer with a breathtaking view of one of America’s most scenic spots. Based on sketches made during a visit in 1863, Bierstadt paints the valley from a vantage point just above the Merced River, looking due west. A sunset bathes the valley’s rock formations in a warm, golden light, with the prospect framed by El Capitan on the right, and Sentinel Rock on the left; the spires of Cathedral Rocks are visible in the distance.
Painted in 1865, the dramatic picture is Bierstadt’s first large-scale Yosemite picture, a subject for which he would become well known. Bierstadt was born in Germany, immigrating to the United States in 1830. In 1853, he returned to his homeland, studying at the Düsseldorf Academy, a school that advocated a clear, linear style, which Bierstadt would incorporate in his own work. Looking Down Yosemite Valley possesses an almost uncanny clarity: from a distance, the painting could easily be mistaken for a photograph, and even up close, one can scarcely detect a single brushstroke. Equally absent is any sign of animal or human life. Since the work was painted at the end of the Civil War, scholars have interpreted this dead calm as a commentary on the national tragedy. Indeed, the painting’s unveiling at the National Academy of Design had to be postponed by two weeks because of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
After its debut, the painting was exhibited around the country before being purchased by Uranus H. Crosby in 1866 for the princely sum of $20,000. Crosby was the proprietor of a lavish opera house in Chicago, which had a picture gallery to house his personal art collection. Crosby’s excessive spending habits soon forced him to find a creative means of satisfying his debts. He held a nationwide lottery, offering his opera house as the grand prize, and Bierstadt’s masterpiece as the second prize. The lottery was so successful that Crosby was able to pay off his creditors and buy back the opera house from the winner. Fortunately for Crosby, he retained the winning ticket for Looking Down Yosemite Valley.
In 1871, Crosby’s Opera House was completely destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, but the painting was rescued before flames engulfed the building. Over the next two decades, it was exhibited periodically in Chicago, but eventually disappeared from view. It resurfaced in 1929, when it was purchased at a Chicago auction for $300 by a Birmingham woman, who anonymously donated it to the Birmingham Public Library. It hung in the reading room of the library until 1974, when it was transferred to the Birmingham Museum of Art on long-term loan. The Library permanently donated the work in 1991. It has become the anchor of the Museum’s American collection and is among the most highly regarded American landscape paintings in the country.
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.
December 13, 2013 (5:00 pm - 9:00 pm)
December 14, 2013 (10:00 am - 6:00 pm)
December 14, 2013 (11:00 am - 1:00 pm)
December 15, 2013 (2:00 pm - 3:00 pm)
December 17, 2013 (10:30 am - 11:30 am)
Founder’s Circle Members will receive the following benefits for their support:
- Logo recognition on Museum Website and Donor Wall
- 4 complimentary tickets to Museum Ball
- Complimentary use of all Museum public spaces* for one event
- 20% discount on all subsequent facility rental fees for private use of the Museum
- Complimentary copy of major exhibition catalogues
- 50 Complimentary tickets to Museum exhibitions (plus discount on additional tickets)
- Discounted membership packages for employees and clients
- Exclusive invitations to exhibition previews, receptions and events
- Company recognition on Museum website and Donor Wall
- Recognition in Museum Annual Report and Newsletter
- Periodic recognition in Museum E-News blasts
- Subscription to the Museum’s quarterly newsletter
- Companywide invitation to corporate partner weekend during ticketed exhibitions