June 24–September 16, 2012 // Contemporary Galleries // Free
Warhol and Cars: American Icons is the first exhibition to examine Andy Warhol’s enduring fascination with automotive vehicles as products of American consumer society. The exhibition features more than forty drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptural models, and related archival material spanning the Pop Art icon’s entire career. As one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol has helped to define America. His signature images, whether American products such as Campbell’s soup cans or Coca-Cola bottles, or celebrities like Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, are instantly recognizable worldwide.
Warhol and Cars highlights include early line drawings and 1950s commercial work, paintings, and works on paper from the 1960s through the 1980s that present his signature silkscreen process. Also included is a 1979 film of Warhol painting and discussing a BMW M1 as part of the BMW Art Race Car Projects introduced by French racer Hervé Poulain.
Warhol and Cars was organized by the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey, and curated by Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator. The majority of the work in the exhibition is from the permanent collection of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog, Warhol and Cars: American Icons, published by the Montclair Art Museum. The catalog is available for purchase through the Museum Store.
Complement your visit to Warhol and Cars with an audio tour, available through any internet-enabled device (smartphone, MP3, tablet). Simply scan the QR code or enter the web address from the label next to the artwork, tap Play, and enjoy insight from curator Gail Stavitsky. Please note that earphones are required; bring your own, or purchase earbuds in the Museum Store for $1.50. A transcript is available in the gallery for visitors without internet-enabled devices or for those with hearing impairments.
Click here to book a group tour.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of PNC Bank.
This exhibition presents 87 works of art made by the Inuit people of Canada. Formerly known as Eskimo, the Inuit are descended from cultures that have inhabited the Arctic regions of Canada, the United States, Greenland, and Russia for over a thousand years.
Works in the exhibition reflect traditional Inuit ways of life and culture, particularly their close observation of Arctic animals, with whom they share the frozen environment. Although contemporary Inuit no longer rely solely on hunting for food, in the recent past, land and sea mammals provided not only a main source of food, but fur and skins for clothing, and sinews and bone for tools. A wide variety of animals and birds are represented in the exhibition, including bears, walrus, seals, muskoxen, wild hares, and loons.
There are also sculptures of people, families, hunters, fishermen, and an igloo with an interior scene. Some sculptures depict transformational figures, spirits, and shamans—religious practitioners who are responsible for maintaining the proper relationship and balance between the human community and spirits that inhabit and govern the natural world.
The works of sculpture and prints, created by men and women, date primarily from the second half of the 20th century. As modern culture has increasingly encroached on Inuit communities and ways of life, sculpture and print-making have emerged not only as a way to augment family resources, but to guard history, stories, beliefs, and life-ways, and transmit them to younger generations and the broader public.
Modern and contemporary Inuit art is sought after by collectors and museums, and is exhibited internationally. Artists in the installation include Pauta Saila (1916–2009), Lucy Tasseor (b. 1934), Barnabus Arnasungaaq (b. 1924), Karoo Ashevak (1940–1974), John Kavik (1897–1993), and Andy Miki (1918–1983), among many others. The exhibition, installed in the Museum’s Native American gallery, is drawn from a single, internationally recognized, private collection in Alabama.
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The Birmingham Museum of Art is pleased to debut The Look of Love for the Apple iPad. Visitors can use this app in the Museum, and a nationwide audience can download it, free of charge, through the Apple App Store.
The app was created to support The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection, an exhibition curated by Graham C. Boettcher, PhD, the William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Museum, and the first major exhibition of lover's eye jewelry, on display at the Museum from February 7 - June 10, 2012.
Lover’s eyes are hand-painted miniatures of single human eyes set in jewelry and given as tokens of affection or of mourning, created in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The diminutive size of the precious objects--many are less than an inch wide--begs for closer examination by the viewer, but the delicate nature of the jewelry and inlaid watercolors require them to be displayed in cases under glass. The iPad app allows visitors to see these tiny, intricate objects at up to twenty times their actual size. They may also view images of the backs of objects, many of which are adorned with human hairwork, enamel decoration, or personal inscriptions commemorating a love or loss.
Arrington Gallery // February 7 - June 10, 2012 // Free
This stunning exhibition explores the little-known subject of “lover’s eyes,” hand-painted miniatures of single human eyes set in jewelry and given as tokens of affection or remembrance. In 1785, when the Prince of Wales secretly proposed to Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert with a miniature of his own eye, he inspired an aristocratic fad for exchanging eye portraits mounted in a wide variety of settings including brooches, rings, lockets, and toothpick cases.
With over 100 examples, the collection of Dr. and Mrs. David A. Skier of Birmingham is the largest in the world. This exhibition offers an unprecedented look at these unusual and intriguing works of art.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full color, hardbound catalogue of the same name, edited by Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art, and published by D Giles Ltd., London. An essay by Elle Shushan sets the historical scene and examines the role of lover’s eyes in the broader context of Georgian and early Victorian portrait miniatures. Boettcher looks at the language and symbolism of these tokens and their jeweled settings. Additionally, novelist and biographer Jo Manning offers five fictional vignettes imagining the circumstances surrounding the creation of these extraordinary objects.
Visitors can also interact with the exhibition in a new way: the Museum's very first iPad app! The Look of Love app allows visitors to see these tiny, intricate objects at up to twenty times their actual size. They can also see images of the backs of objects or short videos of how the objects open. Twenty iPad devices are available for check-out* and use in the Arrington Gallery, and volunteers are on hand to show how the devices and the app work.
*Please note: you must submit a government-issued ID to check out the iPad device.
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.
Arrington Galleries // October 23, 2011 - January 8, 2012 // Free
Beginning on October 23, 2011, the Museum will highlight an exceptional recent gift of more than forty pieces of 20th-century Danish pottery. The collection, given to the BMA by William Hull and Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Baekeland, reflects Denmark’s distinctly artistic pottery tradition, but one that is relatively new, dating only to the 1880s, when a small group of Danish artists began to take an interest in ceramics as a medium for expression. Known as studio potters, these artists worked alone or in small groups and performed each stage of the ceramic process themselves – preparing the clay, mixing glazes, throwing, trimming, glazing, and firing – all tasks that might be performed by different people or machines in an industrial setting. As the 20th century progressed, these potters, some of whom worked for Royal Copenhagen or its competitor Bing & Grøndahl as well as in their own studios, produced vessels that were diverse and individual but always distinctly Danish.
Tradition Transformed: Danish Ceramics in the Twentieth Century will address the evolution of the Danish pottery tradition through an exploration of Modernist pieces produced for Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl, works from Copenhagen’s great studio workshop Saxbo, teapots and tea bowls reflecting the profound influence of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean ceramics on the studio potters of Denmark, and creative yet traditional vessel forms of the Postmodern age. The wide range of Danish studio potters represented in Tradition Transformed include early-to-mid-20th century artists such as Jais Nielsen, Arne Bang, and Axel Salto and contemporary potters Ulla Hansen, Malene Mullertz, Bente Hansen, Hans Vangsø, and Lis Ehrenreich. This recent gift enhances the Museum’s strong collection of ceramics and provides an important link between its historical and contemporary holdings in European and American ceramics.
Tradition Transformed: 20th Century Danish Ceramics is supported in part by The American- Scandinavian Foundation.