Philadelphia native, John Singletary, is a fine art photographer and multimedia artist. His educational training includes both Drexel University and a BFA in Photography from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA. He has exhibited at The Pennsylvania State Museum of Art, LG Tripp Gallery and The James Oliver Gallery. As well, his work is represented in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Center for Fine Art Photography and The Haverford College Archives.
Anahata is a photographic exhibition that uses its mode of presentation to transcend the limitations of the medium in a multi-disciplinary installation experience. Photographs are animated through multiple state-of-the-art OLED panels used as electronic canvases. The technology is synchronized to create joined, large format displays, some forming 8′ x 8′ luminous squares or a 30′ Greco-Roman frieze-inspired composition. Images materialize out of walls and recede back into darkness, as would apparitions in this oddly familiar living space. These and other works are set to original music composed by John Singletary and Matt Hollenberg.
While the ambition in Singletary’s presentation is of distinct merit, it’s not mere technology doing the real work. The photographic quality in his highly ornamented images demonstrates a conscious and masterful use of the medium. Influenced by a production approach found in theater and cinema, Singletary and his crew built a black box studio in a Victorian house in Germantown, PA as a set for the photography in Anahata. This long term collaborative project enlisted dancers, theater performers, costume designers, make-up artists, choreographers and set technicians. And, in this black box studio, the dream-like imagery, extracted from mythology, symbolism and mysticism directs the narrative in Anahata as it explores human relationships and their connection to the divine.
In John Singletary’s inventive world of Anahata, the artist commands an ancient cry from demons and gods in spear-decorated headdresses and cocoon-like webs that conquer and connect us. From there, he uses an advanced understanding of technology to move forward seamlessly into a hyper-lit future. With his sensitivity in making this unique grand scale production personal and through his exacting print work, the fantasticality in Anahata becomes very real.
Seated Woman (Study for “La Grande Jatte”), c. 1884-1885, by Georges Seurat. Conte crayon on laid paper, Sheet: 11 13/16 × 6 1/2 inches. The Louis E. Stern Collection, 1963. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.
The Impressionist’s Eye
Philadelphia Museum of Art to present the most extensive exhibition of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism ever to be assembled from its collection
April 16 – August 18, 2019
This spring the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present a broad survey of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Drawn almost entirely from its renowned collection, this exhibition will bring together more than 80 works in a variety of media—painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, and pastels— to illuminate the achievements of some of history’s most beloved artists. The Impressionist’s Eye will feature many of the museum’s most celebrated paintings—among them Claude Monet’s Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Mary Cassatt’s In the Loge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance, and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers—offering fresh insights into these works and placing them in conversation with other major examples by these artists and their contemporaries. For example, Renoir’s ambitious Great Bathers, newly conserved on the centenary of the artist’s death, will be shown alongside treatments of the same theme by Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne.
The Impressionist’s Eye will include a number of important works on paper (shown in two rotations to avoid overexposing them to light) that have not been on view in the galleries for a decade or more, emphasizing the importance that the artists of these movements attached to working in a variety of media. Among these will be exquisite renderings in pen and ink by Van Gogh, sheets from Cézanne’s sketchbooks that were last exhibited at the museum in 1989, a drawing by Lautrec last shown at this museum in 1956, and one by Berthe Morisot that will be placed on view for the first time.
Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Philadelphia Museum of Art contains one of the country’s most acclaimed collections of 19th century art, but rarely have we had the opportunity to show our Impressionist and Post-Impressionist holdings as comprehensively as we are able to do in this exhibition. Assembling them in The Impressionist’s Eye will enable us to convey the innovative and often boldly experimental character of the work of these artists as well as how fluidly they moved from one medium to another. The presentation of this exhibition in the Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries is accompanied by a beautiful new publication devoted to the collection. It also comes as the consequence of the comprehensive renovation—the first in nearly 25 years—that we are undertaking this spring of the galleries in which we show our collection of later 19th-century European painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. They will be closing temporarily as we proceed with much-needed improvements in tandem with the construction of the next phase—entitled the Core Project—of our facilities master plan designed by Frank Gehry.”
The development of Impressionism began in France in the 1870s in the work of artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro, and set the stage for the bold experiments with color, line, and form that would follow over the next several decades and radically alter the course of modern painting. The exhibition will include a number of works that were presented in the several Impressionist exhibitions held in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as informal sketches and studies that could be considered more experimental or personal in nature.
The Impressionist’s Eye will offer visitors new perspectives on the inventiveness and vision that the artists of this movement brought to their subjects. The choice of bold cropping and unusual points of view, their flattening of space and use of vibrant color and vigorous brushwork imbued their work with a bracing sense of modernity which startled contemporary audiences. Their radically way of painting also reflected a broad fascination with photography and with Japanese (Ukiyo-e) woodblock prints. Visitors will also see a significant number of works by many of the key figures of Post-Impressionism such as George Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne, each of whom took the innovations of the Impressionists as their point of departure and then evolved in new and often dramatically different directions.
The exhibition has been organized around a series of themes that highlight the shared interest of these artists in certain subjects. Among these are Nature, The Modern City, Everyday Objects (or still life), People, and Bathers.
The introduction of commercially produced paint in tubes and the convenience of portable easels and paint sets, combined with the greater mobility afforded by the development of railroads, fostered the growing popularity of painting en plein air, or out-of-doors. The opening section of the exhibition demonstrates how firmly the artists associated with Impressionism were committed to recording their direct observations of nature and making the variability of light, color, and atmosphere a central element of their work. Among the highlights of this section are Camille Pissarro’s Railroad to Dieppe (1886), Monet’s Bend in the Epte River near Giverny (1888), Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-04), as well as a lively pen and ink drawing executed in 1888 by Van Gogh titled Haystacks, which is remarkable for its swirling lines, bold dashes, and lively dots.
Paris provides the main inspiration for the next section of the exhibition, The Modern City. Some artists concentrated on the architecture of the French capital, capturing scenes of its grand boulevards or popular urban entertainments such as cabaret, ballet, and the theater. Artists such as Renoir, Pissarro, Edgar Degas, and Mary Cassatt captured many different aspects of the urban experience—the kinetic energy of great crowds traveling to and fro or a single figure caught at a moment of quiet reverie. A Woman and Girl Driving, by Cassatt, shows a modern woman—the artists’ elder sister—boldly taking the reins of a horse-drawn carriage in Paris alongside the niece of Degas. Toulouse-Lautrec’s At the Moulin-Rouge (1889-90) captures the demi-monde at play, with a dancer kicking up her skirts as she performs the can-can amid a crowd of top-hatted men. At the Paris Opera, Degas’s The Ballet Class, conveys the rigor of young girls learning their craft as a stage mother slumps with fatigue into a chair. Among the group of conté crayon drawings by Georges Seurat included in the exhibition, is a rare rendition of a woman, seated on the bank of an island in the Seine, which served as a study for the artist’s masterpiece, La Grande Jatte.
Another section focuses upon the different ways in which artists such as Edouard Manet and Paul Cézanne reanimated the traditional theme of still life painting, imbuing it with a new spirit and sense of ambition, aptly characterized by the latter when he said, “I want to astonish Paris with an apple.” Flower-filled vases (Renoir), artisanal cakes (Caillebotte), or a woven basket (Manet) were convenient subjects for the artists’ experimentation. “A painter can say all he wants to with fruit and flowers,” observed Manet, who focused on this familiar genre in nearly a fifth of his canvases. In these works, visitors are invited to witness everyday objects transformed through color, texture, and line.
Many of these artists were also keen observers of people. As Van Gogh noted in 1885, “Painted portraits have a life of their own that comes from deep in the soul of the painter and where the machine [the camera] can’t go.” His treatment of the postman Roulin’s wife clutching her baby Marcelle, created in 1888, possesses a luminous, almost otherworldly glow. In this section of the exhibition, works in clay, graphite, pastel, and paint reveal just how thoroughly the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists up-ended longstanding traditions of rendering the human figure. Drawings such as Cézanne’s Peasant Girl Wearing a Fichu and such sculptures as Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, (modeled in wax, 1878-81 and cast in bronze, about 1922) reflect the unique qualities that different media offered to these artists to enable them to capture the unique character and vivacity of their subjects. Responding to the recent advent of photography, artists sought to convey the character of the sitter in ways that seem both direct and spontaneous, as demonstrated in Bethe Morisot’s Young Woman with Brown Hair, 1894.
The same observations can be made of their treatment of the timeless subject of the nude, a theme that especially fascinated Renoir, Degas, and Cézanne. Renoir’s Great Bathers, (1884-87) will be seen in The Impressionist’s Eye for the first time since the completion of a year-long conservation treatment and cleaning, a project generously supported by the Bank of America Art Conservation Project. The artist labored over this canvas, seeking to establish a new direction for his work and to create an image that would be both contemporary in spirit and rival the great masters of the Renaissance. The installation will enable visitors to appreciate it in a state that now more closely resembles how it looked when the artist completed it, and in the company of some of the greatest works of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“For three years Renoir wrestled with this work,” notes Jennifer Thompson, the museum’s Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting & Sculpture & Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, who organized the exhibition. “Just howexhaustively, we knew from notes left by Berthe Morisot, but seeing the cross-sections and x-rays taken by our specialists in Conservation has reaffirmed precisely how much he questioned himself and started over, again and again.”
The Impressionists Eye, as an exhibition drawn from the collection, also offers a record of collecting, tastes, and insight into the cultural life of Philadelphia in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning with Mary Cassatt, the American in Paris who early on persuaded her family members in this city and others around the country to purchase the work of the Impressionists, touching off a new vogue in collecting. “Philadelphia was a vibrant center for collecting in the during this period,” Thompson notes, “and the museum’s Impressionist holdings were indelibly shaped by the taste and civic spirit of those individuals, much as today’s collectors of contemporary art collectors enrich the cultural life of our city.”
Support The Impressionist’s Eye has been made possible by Presenting Sponsor Bank of America.
Contributions to this exhibition have been made by The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, Lyn M. Ross, Joan F. Thalheimer, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Fund for Exhibitions, and an anonymous donor.
Support for both The Impressionist’s Eye exhibition and the reinstallation of the galleries of nineteenth-century European painting has been generously provided by Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky.
Support for the reinstallation of the galleries of nineteenth-century European painting has been generously provided by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Harriet and Ron Lassin, Martha McGeary Snider, and other donors.
Credits as of February 28, 2019
Publication The exhibition is accompanied by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the first publication from the museum to focus on its internationally renowned Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections ($35). Written by Jennifer A. Thompson with contributions by Joseph J. Rishel and Eileen Owens, and co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press (240 pages; 224 color, 8 black-and-white illustrations), it focuses upon one of the most significant collections of Impressionism and Post Impressionism in the country, with two hundred Cézannes, twenty-three Monets, and more than fifty Renoirs.
Thompson’s introductory essay examines the circumstances and individuals—including Mary Cassatt’s brother, the Philadelphia railroad executive Alexander J. Cassatt, depicted in a painting by his sister—that led to the formation of the collection. It provides entries on ninety highlights, including Cézanne’s The Large Bathers, Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Monet’s Japanese Bridge and Waterlily Pond, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge, and Renoir’s Great Bathers. Paintings, sculpture, and drawings by figures such as Cassatt, Seurat, Manet, Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Morisot, and Auguste Rodin are presented together, providing a rich and encompassing view of these artists and the innovative works they created across mediums.
The entries explore the artists’ aims and challenges, discuss conservation discoveries, and consider the works within the contexts of the art market, social history, fashion, and politics. Comparative illustrations, such as related works from Philadelphia and other collections, preparatory drawings, X-rays demonstrating substantial alterations, and period photographs, add to an understanding of each work.
Changes in the Nineteenth Century Galleries Beginning March 25, 2019, seven rooms dedicated to nineteenth century paintings on the first floor of the main building will close for renovation, including galleries 151, 152, 159, 156, 157, 160, 161. Several of these will reopen in July, and the full suite will be reopened following the conclusion of The Impressionist’s Eye. Currently closed for renovation are galleries 150 and 153. On March 25, these galleries reopen with works by Couture, Courbet, Corot, and Millet, a new installation focusing on the rejection of idealism, the treatment of “ordinary” subjects, and technical innovations in painting outdoors and in the use of bold, gestural brushwork.
Curator Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting & Sculpture & Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection
Location Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130 215-763-8100 Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Wednesday & Friday: Main building open until 8:45 p.m. Closed Monday except for some holidays
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The Tony, Peabody and Emmy Award winning, six time HBO Def Poet Black Ice (pictured) and many of Def Poetry Jam’s most recognized poets will reunite for an evening of spoken artistry on April 26. (Image courtesy of the artist)
Art of Poetry at Philadelphia Museum of Art
In April and May,Philadelphia Museum of Art is celebrating the art of poetry through artist collaborations including film, performances, talks, tours, and workshops.
Whitman, Alabama—Experience Walt Whitman‘s poem “Song of Myself,” brought to life through the voices of Alabama residents, to celebrate diversity and our connectedness to one another. This film by Jennifer Crandall is accompanied by photographs from the museum’s collection that suggest the complexity of American identity.This exhibition is offered in conjunction with Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy, a region-wide initiative organized by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, with major support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Art of Poetry Opening Celebration—Heralding our two months of poetry-inspired programs, performance poets make our galleries sing with spoken word while artists blend language and art. Drink and Draw with Martha Rich—Sip while you sketch with this Philly-based artist and make zines inspired by memories, eavesdropping, and found text. Rich paints words and food with a penchant for the absurd. Her work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Bon Appétit, and Entertainment Weekly. (Materials provided; drinks available for purchase.) Poetry tours with The Philly Pigeon—Join this collective, which aims to elevate and popularize the art form of performance poetry, for a lively tour through the galleries.Gallery takeover with the museum’s Teen Ambassador Group (TAG)—This group of high school students work with curators, educators, and other museum staff to create programs especially for teens.
Slow Art Day
Slow Art Day—This annual international event encourages museum visitors to slow down with their favorite works of art and do some mindful looking.
Poetry Workshops with Michelle Taransky—Learn to slow down with the poetic techniques of describing and responding, and discover new ways of looking at art. 11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m.
Introspective Bookmaking with Candy Alexandra González—Explore the art of stillness and moving at a slower pace. Drop in for collaborative visual art and poetry exercises to produce a collectively made book.
Music in the Galleries: Lines/Patterns—Form and structure make the link between American visual artist Ellsworth Kelly and German baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Presented in partnership with the Curtis Institute of Music. 1:30, 2:15 & 3:00 p.m.
Spotlight Gallery Conversations—Engage in slow looking and thoughtful discussion as a different artwork takes center stage during each of five hourly gallery tours, 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m
Family Festival: Poetry Party—April is International Poetry Month, so words are our art medium during this month’s Family Festival. Read a painting, write a sculpture, draw a poem. Join artist Martha Rich and fill the Great Stair Hall with your wonderful words.
Dawn Landes—Full of vivid storytelling, classic country themes, and eternal questions, the songwriting of this Nashville artist is as fresh as it is timeless.
Final Fridays: Def Poetry Reunion—Def Poetry Jam co-founder Danny Simmons invites some of Philly’s most recognized poets to gather for an evening of spoken artistry. Featuring Sonia Sanchez, Ursula Rucker, Black Ice, Vanessa German, Bonafide Rojas, and Jessica Care Moore. Hosted by Liza Jessie Peterson. A DJ set by Rich Medina with visuals by The Marksmen follows the performance. Please note that the museum will close at 5:00 p.m. before the performance, and will reopen at 6:00 p.m. for ticket holders only. Member tickets are on sale now. Public tickets go on sale March 8. Most galleries will be closed during this event, with the exception of exhibitions Whitman, Alabama, The Impressionist’s Eye, and Yoshitoshi: Spriti and Spectacle.
Talks & Tours
In the Artist’s Voice: Jennifer Crandall—Who is America? The filmmaker of Whitman, Alabama explores this question and more in a conversation with WHYY Executive Producer of Audio Content Elisabeth Perez-Luna. Support for this program was provided by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Fund for Education.
From Bondage to Freedom, by Jerry Pinkney, appeared in the National Park Service Underground Railroad Handbook and is part of “Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” at the Woodmere Art Museum, February 16-May 12, 2019. Photo courtesy Jerry Pinkney
MAJOR PHILADELPHIA ART EXHIBITSFOR 2019 Philly Museums Celebrate A Year Of Creative Diversity
PHILADELPHIA, December 17, 2018 – Philadelphia’s celebrated history of dynamic artistic expression shines in a fascinating breadth of art exhibitions in 2019. The lineup features a diverse range of artists and media exploring personal stories and issues of the day.
Major museum shows include the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s multimedia impressionist works in The Impressionist’s Eye. The Barnes Foundation hosts a body of work by contemporary video artist Bill Viola, and the Brandywine River Museum looks at the varied work by N.C. Wyeth in New Perspectives.
Smaller yet just-as-mighty exhibits represent provocative, beautiful work by artists from minority communities. These include a year-long, three-part artistic examination of the legacy of slavery with Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts and Banal Presents at the Institute of Contemporary Art; a retrospective of artist David Lebe, known for his homoerotic photographs, in Long Light: Photographs by David Lebeat the Philadelphia Museum of Art;and an exhibit from contemporary artists Sonya Clark and Jacolby Satterwhite that challenges traditional assumptionsat The Fabric Workshop and Museum.
Here’s a look at what art fans can look forward to in the year ahead:
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
Re-opening of the Galleries of Chinese Art – In tandem with architect Frank Gehry’soverall plan for the museum, therenovation and reinstallation of the Chinese art collection debuts early in 2019. The collection spans 4,000 years and consists of more than 7,000 pieces, including 500 paintings dating from the 12th to the 20th century, plus costumes, textiles, furniture, jades, lacquer wares, cloisonné and contemporary works. February 3, 2019
The Impressionist’s Eye – The museum’s collection of work in a rich variety of media by esteemed impressionist painters shows the artists’ versatility. Paintings, watercolors, drawings and sculptures by Manet, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Renoir, Morisot, Cassatt, Seurat, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Rodin comprise the exhibit of approximately 70 works. April 16-August 18, 2019
Yoshitoshi: Spirit and Spectacle – Honoring Japanese master printmaker Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), this exhibit showcases highlights from more than 1,200 prints. Yoshitoshi’s work reflects cultural traditions and the upheavals of the modern world that followed Japan’s opening to the West after 200 years of isolation. The exhibit includes selections from the artist’s final project and his best-known series, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 1885-1992. April 16-August 18, 2019
Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue, (215) 763-8100,philamuseum.org
Long Light: Photographs by David Lebe– David Lebe’s first retrospective features powerful work from his 1994 documentation of his and his partner’s daily struggles with AIDS, images from late-1960s anti-war marches and The Great March on Washington in 1987 for lesbian and gay rights. Born in Manhattan in 1948, the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts)-trained photographer is known for the homoerotic themes in his work that present and examine gay life. February 9-May 5, 2019
Souls Grown Deep – Works by luminaries Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Hawkins Bolden and Bessie Harvey are part of this exhibit featuring 24 acquisitions from Atlanta’s Souls Grown Deep Foundation. With a focus on art-making with found objects and everyday materials, the artists’works range in size from modest wall pieces to sculptures more than 12 feet wide. Displaying alongside them: 15 exquisitely made quilts by women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. June 8-September 2, 2019
Collage and Assemblage from the Collection – Complementing Souls Grown Deep are select examples from the museum’s collection of early- to mid-20th-century Modernist and contemporary art. June 8-September 2, 2019
Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts and Banal Presents – A three-part exhibit examines the everyday ways that slavery and colonialism continue to leave marks on American culture. The exhibit’s consecutive shows include Mundane Futures (February 1-March 31), featuring work by contemporary artists Martine Syms, Kevin Jerome Everson, Aria Dean and Dave McKenzie. The second, Quotidian Pasts (April 26-August 11), examines the complexities of collecting and displaying African objects, with artifacts from the Penn Museum displayed alongside new work by Matthew Angelo Harrison. The final installment, Banal Presents (September 13-December 22), features new and recent work by Sable Elyse Smith, Cameron Rowland and Carolyn Lazard. February 1-December 22, 2019
Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen – The first major solo exhibition of this Chilean-born poet, artist, filmmaker and human rights activist boldly tackles social and political issues. Vicuña’s work flows from concept and craft, text and textile to address economic and environmental disparities and the reclamation of her ancestral traditions. February 1-March 31, 2019
Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective – This exhibit presents the first large-scale survey of an avant-garde artist whose 1960s groundbreaking work in film and Minimalist music challenged barriers between mediums. A sensory experience that invokes the spirit of Conrad’s participatory and performative approach, this exhibit is a showcase for his far-flung interests in sculpture, painting, film, video and installation. February 1-August 11, 2019
Pat Steir Silent Secret Waterfalls: The Barnes Series – In the first installation of paintings on view in the Annenberg Court, the Barnes Foundation presents 11 seven-foot-tall oil paintings by American artist Pat Steir. The works reference the artist’s lauded Abstract-dripped Waterfall series that she began creating in the 1980s. January 12-November 17, 2019
From Today, Painting Is Dead: Early Photography in France and Britain – Exploring the fertile period in the early history of photography when the medium’s pioneers adapted and transformed this rich and complex medium, the Barnes’s second survey of photography presents nearly 250 early photographs—most of which have never before been exhibited—created by British and French photographers between the 1840s and 1880s. February 24-May 12, 2019
I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola – Thisexhibition brings together a selection of major works reflecting on the history of painting by renowned video artist Bill Viola, including screen-based works and large scale installations. June 30-September 15, 2019
30 Americans – This exhibit showcases painting, sculpture and photos by influential African-American artists of the past three decades. October 27, 2019-January 12, 2020
Sonya Clark (exhibit name TBA) – The Virginia-based textile and performance artist presents work that weaves together her interests in symbols, history, race and identity. Clark’s previous performance art includes Unraveling and Unraveled, in which she meticulously unraveled the threads of a Confederate flag. March 29-August 4, 2019
Jacolby Satterwhite (exhibit name TBA) – A multidisciplinary artist embraces the role of provocateur with performance, music and animation. As a queer African-American man, Satterwhite addresses issues that impact his personal experience and explores issues of nostalgia, family and music.September 13, 2019-January 19, 2020
Zanele Muholi & The Women’s Mobile Museum – Acclaimed photographer Zanele Muholi and the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center worked with 10 women in a yearlong paid apprenticeship to create this photographic exhibition that addresses questions such as “Whose portraits are shown in museums?” and “Who is art for?” December 22, 2018-March 31, 2019
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde – Appearing at four venues—PAFA, the University of Arts, the Philadelphia Art Alliance and Gershman Hall—this exhibition explores Philadelphia from 1956 to 1976, when the city was a hotbed of Pop Art, architectural and urban-planning innovation and post-war art school expansion. On display: photographs, paintings, films, posters by Ree Morton, Jody Pinto and Hannah Wilkie, along with achievements by architect Denise Scott Brown. March 18-June 28, 2019
From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic – A scenic tour of the local landscape as captured by Philadelphia painters from the Early American Republic to the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, this exhibit shows how Philadelphia-area artists influenced the Hudson River School. This is the first major exhibit to look at Philadelphia’s role in the development of American landscape painting. June 29-December 29, 2019
Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney – This exhibition of works by Germantown-born illustrator (and Caldecott winner) Jerry Pickney reflects his focus on issues surrounding African-Americans and includes his powerful illustrations for historian Charles L. Blockson’s article, “Escape from Slavery: The Underground Railroad,” which appeared in National Geographic, and watercolors for The Old African, a book Pinkney considers one of his most important accomplishments. February 16-May 12, 2019
Our Town: A Retrospective of Edith Neff – This Philadelphia artist and leading realist painter used Philadelphia, her friends, neighbors and students (she taught at PAFA until her death) as subjects in work. Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art have acquired some Neff pieces, Our Town is the first large-scale exhibition of her work in more than two decades. April 13-October 27, 2019
Patterned Paintings by Claes Gabriel and Andrew Chalfen – Two artists present work marked by an ornate expression of design, layering and color play. While Gabriel’s works incorporate Haitian culture with color, folklore and fantasy, Chalfen’s reference cartography, fractal blooms and other complex patterns. March 1-April 28, 2019
Paintings by Isaiah Zagar – Though more well-known for his mosaics, Zagar is also a painter with an extensive portfolio that informs his work in 3-D. May 3-July 7, 2019
Stained Glass Works by Justin Tyner – Tyner’s work mixes salvaged and repurposed glass to manipulate light in his distinctive psychedelic style. July 12-September 8, 2019
Collaborative Works by Martha Clippinger – In this exhibit comprising tapetes (rugs), ceramics, repurposed wood and hand-woven textiles, Clippinger explores artistic collaboration’s potential to break down conceptual barriers between craft and fine art. The tapetes are the centerpiece of the exhibition and were made in collaboration with weavers from Oaxaca, Mexico. September 13-November 10, 2019
Hidden Lives, Illuminated – Twenty commissioned, animated short films by artists living or working in prisons look inside the daily life of America’s correctional system. Each film is projected onto Eastern State’s facade and is accompanied by a customized soundtrack. Discussions about criminal justice issues accompany the films. August 17-September 14, 2019
Bones, Books & Bell Jars – Photographer and physician Andrea Baldeck went behind the scenes and explored the museum’s collection, then selected items and combined them for her still life photographs. As presented in this exhibition, her imagescapture the fascinating beauty of some of the Mütter’s medical objects. Through May 2019
Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia – The Mütter opens its most ambitious exhibition to date in a multi-disciplinary recounting of a global pandemic that took thousands of local lives in two years. History, art, science and contemporary issues offer a unique view into the terrifying time. Included in the exhibition is a work by the artist group Blast Theory and digital interactives that allow visitors to explore data from more than 20,000 death certificates from Philadelphia neighborhoods. October 17, 2019-August 5, 2024
O.TW. — On the Water: The Schuylkill River – Work by contemporary artists James Lancel McElhinney, Patrick Connors, Tom Judd, Deirdre Murphy, Stacy Levy, Jacob Rivkin and Joseph Sweeney address the Schuylkill as a nexus of American art, science, literature and commerce. Historic images are also included in the exhibition. Through September 2019
American Beauty: Selections From the Richard M. Scaife Bequest – The Brandywine River Museum of Art and The Westmoreland Museum of American Art present 50 paintings from the bequest of their late, longtime trustee, Richard M. Scaife. Featured are 19th– and 20th-century American masterworks by Martin Johnson Heade, John Frederick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, George Inness, William Merritt Chase and Guy Pene du Bois. March 9-May 27, 2019
N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives – This exhibit takes a comprehensive look into the oeuvre of this master 20th-century illustrator. Though better known for his work illustrating classics such as Treasure Island and The Boy’s King Arthur, Wyeth had artistic output that went well beyond, with landscapes, portraits, murals, and still lifes. The exhibit will include about 70 paintings and drawings that reveal a fuller picture of this American icon. June 22-September 15, 2019
The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design – More than 40 chairs chosen for their significance tell the story of American aesthetics from the early 19th century to the present. Designers include John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, Herter Brothers, Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Gehry, among others. February 9-May 5, 2019
Nakashima Looks: Studio Furniture from the Permanent Collection – Artist Mira Nakashima, daughter of acclaimed woodworker George Nakashima, guest curates an exhibit that showcases some of the stunning work in the museum’s collection by both father and daughter. March 2-June 9, 2019
The Color of the Moon: Lunar Painting in American Art – More than 50 works of art depict the moon and reveal its prominence in American landscape painting in this unusually themed exhibit. Highlights include work by Thomas Cole, the father of the Hudson River School, and illustrations by Norman Rockwell. June 1-September 8, 2019
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Lancaster (In the Province No. 2), 1920, by Charles Demuth, American, 1883 – 1935. Oil on canvas, 30 x 16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950-5-1.
World-class Modernism Exhibition at The Philadelphia Museum of Art
By Bob Moore
The works of art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art‘s Modern Times exhibition, covering a period of artistic upheaval from 1910 to 1950, are seldom unexpected or unfamiliar. The modernist trend which they embody is deeply etched into our cultural unconscious, the background or context to everything that has happened since in the art world. Marcel DuChamp‘s nude descending her staircase, Georgia O’Keefe‘s succulent flowers, Marsden Hartley‘s colorful World War I compositions: these were the visual soil that Americans like myself grew up in.
The City of Ambition, 1910 (negative); c. 1930 (print), by Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1871 – 1944. Gelatin silver print, image/sheet/mount: 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-47.
Walking through the 160-some pieces in the exhibition is like paging through the Modern American Art section of an extensive History of Art, with few outright surprises.
What is surprising (at least to me) in this exhibition was how many of these works are owned outright by the Philadelphia Museum of Art‘ (PMA). Not on loan from some internationally-recognized museum, but property of the PMA. Ours, all ours. This highlights a side of the exhibit not about Art but about Acquisitions. PMA’s Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Rub, in a foreword to the associated book, notes that “It was during the 1940s that the PMA’s holding of modern European and American art were established through several important gifts…” including donations by Albert E. Gallatin, Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Steiglitz, and Walter and Louise Arensburg (not Annanberg, another Philadelphia philanthropist who bequeathed his collection instead to the rival Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York).
Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), 1915, by Marsden Hartley, American, 1877 -1943. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 31 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-8
There are a few works in the show not owned (yet) by the PMA: the book identifies one statue lent by a Museum Trustee and some fourteen paintings (including Charles Demuth‘s sizzling Jazzlent by another Trustee, with a note hinting at their eventual acquisition by the Museum.
The Modern Times exhibition curator was Jessica Todd Smith. In an essay in the associated book, she tells how the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) pioneered Modern Art in Philadelphia. But an ill-fated one-month PAFA exhibition of works from the collection of Albert C. Barnes in 1923 caused a ridiculous public outcry (the work was “trash,” and “the creations of a disintegrating mind,” said reviewers; think of peasants with torches and pitchforks).
Smith says the “critical reaction to the Barnes collection in 1923 scared PAFA’s board from presenting any further exhibitions of modern art until the 1950s…” The controversy also led to Barnes’ alienation from the Philadelphia art scene and all that followed. See Philadelphia Inquirer, “Barnes at the Pennsylvania Academy: A scandal in 1923“, May 4, 2012, by much-missed art critic Ed Sozanski.
In a footnote 41 to her essay, Smith notes that some work was excluded from the exhibition, including “work that wholeheartedly embraces abstraction to the exclusion of any hints of figuration, leaving out most geometric abstraction and, on the more painterly end of the spectrum, Abstract Expressionism…” She also regretted that the museum had holes in its collections, including Social Realism, Regionalism, Native American, and Central and South American art.