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Now

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of a Young Gentleman, 1474. Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni di Michele de Antonio), Italian. Oil on panel, 12 5/8 x 10 11/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection

November 3, 2017 – February 19, 2018

Art gives us real delight only when the eye derives pleasure from what is really worthy.—John G. Johnson, from his art and travel memoir, Sight-Seeing in Berlin and Holland among Pictures (1892)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection, a major exhibition focusing on one of the finest collections of European art ever to have been formed in the United States by a private collector. The exhibition marks the centenary of the remarkable bequest of John Graver Johnson (1841–1917)—a distinguished corporate lawyer of his day and one of its most adventurous art collectors—to the City of Philadelphia in 1917. It also coincides with the celebration of the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The exhibition includes masterpieces by key figures of the Renaissance such as Botticelli, Bosch, and Titian; important seventeenth-century Dutch paintings by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and others; and works by American and French masters of Johnson’s own time, most notably Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Édouard Manet, and Claude Monet. Old Masters Now also provides a behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative work of the Museum’s curators and conservators who have studied the collection since it was entrusted to the Museum’s care in the early 1930s. The exhibition explores a host of fascinating questions ranging from attribution to authenticity and illuminates the detective work and problem-solving skills that are brought to bear when specialists reevaluate the original meaning and intent of works created centuries ago.

Old Masters Now, PMAMusical Group, 1520s. Callisto Piazza (Calisto de la Piaza da Lodi), Italian (active Lodi and Brescia). Oil on panel, 35 5/8 x 35 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Timothy Rub, The Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Over time our appreciation of Johnson’s extraordinary gift continues to grow, and it remains a source of endless fascination with many discoveries still to be made. We are delighted to open a window onto our work, offering visitors a fresh look at the process of scholarship and conservation that we bring to the care of our collection and an insight into the questions, puzzles, and mysteries that continue to occupy our staff.”

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of John G. Johnson, 1917. Conrad F. Haeseler, American. Oil on panel, 34 x 24 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Julia W. Frick and Sidney W. Frick, 1971.

The exhibition opens with a gallery dedicated to Johnson himself, providing a picture of one of Philadelphia’s most prominent leaders during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A timeline traces key moments in his colorful legal career, highlighting important cases and invitations he was reported to have received from President Garfield and President Cleveland to be nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, and another from President McKinley to serve as his Attorney General, all of which Johnson declined. It notes that in 1901, he represented his hometown baseball team, the Phillies (then known as the Philadelphia Ball Club), when players sought to break their contracts to play for other teams. This section also explores the decades-long formation of his art collection, from early acquisitions of contemporary art, such as Mary Cassatt’s On the Balcony, to paintings that he acquired the day before he died. Archival material, travel albums, and large-scale photographs of the interiors of Johnson’s houses at 426 and 506 South Broad Street reveal the strikingly idiosyncratic way in which he displayed and lived with his collection. 

Old Masters Now, PMAInterior of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, 1631. Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch (active Haarlem and Utrecht). Oil on panel, 32 5/8 x 43 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Eight paintings in the exhibition illustrate some of the fascinating breakthroughs in understanding that have emerged from curators’ and conservators’ work researching and caring for the collection over time. Among them is Rogier van der Weyden’s Crucifixion, with Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, from around 1460. This pair of wood panels long puzzled scholars, who were uncertain whether they were created as part of an altarpiece or as an independent work. A conservator’s close technical study eventually led to the realization that they had served as shutters that closed over what was likely one of the largest altarpieces made during the Renaissance in northern Europe; its existence is known only through the Johnson Collection paintings and two others discovered in 2012.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Crucifixion, c. 1460. Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (active Tournai and Brussels). Oil on panel, 71 x 36 7/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Descent from the Cross, painted by the Netherlandish artist Joos van Cleve around 1520, has undergone a year-long conservation treatment and is placed on view for the first time in thirty years. Once considered to be simply a copy of a major painting of the same subject created by Rogier van der Weyden eight decades earlier, it remained in storage as a study picture. The painting is now considered to be Joos van Cleve’s homage to this revered masterpiece.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Last Drop (The Gay Cavalier), c. 1639. Judith Leyster, Dutch (active Haarlem and Amsterdam). Oil on canvas, 35 1/16 x 28 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Another work that illustrates how historical and technical study may recover an artist’s original meaning is Dutch master Judith Leyster’s painting The Last Drop (The Gay Cavalier). Dating to about 1629, it depicts a scene of two men approaching the end of a night of drinking. In 1979 an art historian discovered an early copy of the painting that included a skeleton—a warning to the revelers that they should change their ways. The Johnson painting showed no skeleton, but a conservator’s examination and microscopic cleaning tests in 1992 determined that it once had been painted over and it remained beautifully intact. Removal of the overpainting, documented in a series of photographs, revealed the true message of Leyster’s painting.

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto, 1558. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (active Venice). Oil on canvas, 45 3/16 x 34 15/16 inches. Framed: 58 3/4 × 48 1/4 × 5 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2017.

Titian’s enigmatic Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto of 1558 has been newly cleaned and restored following years of study and conservation treatment. It is presented alongside a display illustrating how the artist’s original materials have changed with age. Recent analysis by Museum conservators and scientists revealed that Titian painted Archinto with a purple cloak, a color identified with archbishops. The blue pigment that contributed to the purple hue deteriorated over time, making the cloak appear red today. This discovery adds insight into how Titian’s contemporaries would have seen this masterful portrait.

Old Masters Now, PMASaint Nicholas of Tolentino Saving a Shipwreck, 1457. Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia), Italian (active Siena). Tempera and gold on panel with vertical grain, 20 1/2 x 16 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Attribution is examined in the section devoted to the Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. Johnson was among the earliest Americans to collect Bosch, and today the Museum is among only a handful in the United States that possess a work by this great painter. Although Johnson purchased 10 works that he understood to be by the artist, close comparative looking and technical research—most notably through the use of dendrochronology (dating growth rings in wood)—has led to the conclusion that only one can be considered authentic today.

Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation, said, “The work that goes on in conservation is at the very heart of the Museum’s commitment to expanding the understanding of the art in its care. We are looking forward to sharing with visitors not just the results of that work, but also the processes of investigation and the excitement of discovery.”

Old Masters Now, PMAHead of Christ, c. 1648‑1656. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch (active Leiden and Amsterdam), 1606 ‑ 1669. Oil on oak panel, laid into larger oak panel, 14 1/8 x 12 5/16 inches. Framed: 28 1/4 x 23 x 2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The exhibition also explores those areas of European painting in which Johnson focused in depth, including Italian, Dutch and Netherlandish, and French art. The number of Dutch paintings he acquired was among the largest of his day, and is especially rich in landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael and animated genre scenes by Jan Steen. Rembrandt’s Head of Christ is also on view in this section.

Old Masters Now, PMAChrist and the Virgin, c. 1430‑1435. Robert Campin, also called the Master of Flémalle, Netherlandish (active Tournai). Oil and gold on panel, 11 1/4 x 17 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

One section devoted to some of the earliest works in Johnson’s collection explores how art historians and conservators evaluate the original context of works that today exist only as fragments of a larger whole. Here an image of the Sienese artist Duccio’s great altarpiece called the Maestá will be placed beside his workshop’s Angel, showing how it was placed and functioned within the larger composition. Other fragmentary works on view include four small superb paintings by Botticelli and Fra Angelico’s Saint Francis of Assisi.

Old Masters Now, PMASaint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, 1430‑1432. Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish (active Bruges). Oil on vellum on panel, 5 x 5 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Another section is devoted to Johnson’s fascination with the art of his time. It highlights Édouard Manet’s Battle of the USS “Kearsarge” and the CSS “Alabama”, James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, and major paintings by John Constable, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer, Camille Pissarro, and Eduard Charlemont, and a marble by Auguste Rodin.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Descent from the Cross, c. 1518‑1520. Joos van Cleve, Netherlandish (active Antwerp and France). Oil on panel, 45 1/4 x 49 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2017.

During the presentation of the exhibition the Johnson curatorial and conservation team will be frequently available in the galleries to give talks and answer questions. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Museum’s European galleries, where other works from the Johnson Collection are installed, including a display of sculptures in gallery 273 and another devoted to embroideries and other textiles.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Adoration of the Magi, Early 16th century. Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlandish (active Hertogenbosch). Oil on panel, 30 1/2 × 22 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2015.

Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, said, “Our understanding of the Johnson Collection is constantly changing. This exhibition marks the first significant assessment of how our thinking on it has evolved over the years. While the careful study we have given to objects in the collection is rarely presented to the public, we are quite pleased to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the work we do.” 

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of a Lady, c. 1577‑1580. Attributed to El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Spanish (born Crete, active Italy and Spain). Oil on panel, 15 5/8 x 12 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Digital Publication

On the occasion of the centenary of Johnson’s bequest to the City of Philadelphia, the Museum is producing its first digital publication, The John G. Johnson Collection: A History and Selected Works. The publication includes thematic essays written by the Museum’s curatorial and conservation teams that focus on the history of, scholarship on, and stewardship of the collection. Catalogue entries on seventy objects from the Johnson Collection integrate digitized archival resources, allowing scholars new ways to explore the histories of the artworks. It will be available for free and accessible to researchers and the public alike on February 1, 2018 (ISBN: 978-0-87633-276-4).

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Battle of the U.S.S. “Kearsarge” and the C.S.S. “Alabama”, 1864. Édouard Manet, French. Oil on canvas, 54 1/4 x 50 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The development of this catalogue is led by Christopher D. M. Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives; and Karina Wratschko, Special Projects Librarian. Atkins said, “We are connecting art information with archival information. This is the most groundbreaking aspect of the project as most institutions have treated these materials separately, until now.”

Old Masters Now, PMARailroad Bridge, Argenteuil, 1874. Claude Monet, French. Oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 28 7/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The John G. Johnson Curatorial and Conservation Team

Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection
Christopher D. M. Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives
Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation
Teresa Lignelli, The Aronson Senior Conservator of Paintings

Carl Brandon Strehlke, Curator Emeritus, John G. Johnson Collection

Joseph J. Rishel, Curator Emeritus, European Painting

Old Masters Now, PMAMarine, 1866. Gustave Courbet, French. Oil on canvas on gypsum board. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

About John Graver Johnson (1841–1917)
Born in the village of Chestnut Hill, now part of Philadelphia, and educated in the city’s public Central High School and then at the University of Pennsylvania, Johnson became recognized as the greatest lawyer in the English-speaking world. He represented influential clients such as J. P. Morgan, US Steel, the Sugar Trust, and Standard Oil. He was also known to accept cases that many would consider ordinary if the details piqued his intellectual interest. Johnson quietly acquired many important works of art as well as highly singular ones that have been the source of much scholarly discussion.

At the age of 34 he married Ida Alicia Powel Morrell (1840–1908), a widow with three children. He traveled to Europe often, visiting France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Belgium, and collected pictures as an amateur art historian relying on his own evaluation. In 1892 he published Sight-Seeing in Berlin and Holland among Pictures. Also that year, he published a catalogue of his collection, which at the time included 281 paintings.

In 1895 Johnson was appointed to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Art Commission where he oversaw the Wilstach Gallery, which housed a public collection of paintings. Under his leadership, the commission purchased important works, among them James McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Black and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Annunciation, the first work by an African American artist to enter a public collection in the United States. Johnson was also the attorney for Alexander Cassatt, brother of the artist Mary Stevenson Cassatt. One of his earliest purchases was Cassatt’s On the Balcony. When Johnson gave this work to the Wilstach Gallery in 1906, it was the first painting by the artist to enter an American public collection. During his 22-year stewardship of the Wilstach Gallery, he made 53 gifts from his personal collection, which are now on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Old Masters Now, PMAPurple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, 1864. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American (active England). Oil on canvas, 36 3/4 x 24 1/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

About the John G. Johnson Collection
Johnson’s collection was formed through his own study and, in later years, with the assistance of illustrious art historians including Roger Fry and Wilhelm Valentiner. Bernard Berenson advised his purchases of works by, among others, Antonello da Messina, Sandro Botticelli, and Pietro Lorenzetti. To this day, the John G. Johnson Collection is distinguished by its quality, rarity, and diversity in European art.

At the time of his death on April 14, 1917, Johnson left his collection to the City of Philadelphia. In his will, he said, “I have lived my life in this City. I want the collection to have its home here.” The City of Philadelphia accepted the conditions of his will, which contained a codicil directing that his house be opened as a gallery for the public to enjoy. In 1933 the Johnson Collection was moved temporarily from Johnson’s house at 510 South Broad Street to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, due to a funding crisis caused by the Great Depression as well as a determination by a court-appointed master that the Johnson house was unsafe for the collection. In 1958 the Museum, the City, and the Johnson Trust entered a formal agreement concerning storage and display of the Johnson Collection at the Museum. Johnson’s art was exhibited as a separate collection within the Museum for more than 50 years. In the late 1980s, legal approval was granted for the Museum to integrate the works into its full collection. The collection numbers 1,279 paintings, 51 sculptures, and over 100 other objects.

Old Masters Now, PMAOn the Balcony, 1873. Mary Stevenson Cassatt, American. Oil on canvas, 39 3/4 × 32 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of John G. Johnson for the W. P. Wilstach Collection, 1906.

Support
This exhibition has been made possible by The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kowitz Family Foundation, Friends of Heritage Preservation, Lawrence H. and Julie C. Berger, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Robert Lehman Foundation, James and Susan Pagliaro, Lyn M. Ross, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, and Joan F. Thalheimer.

Support for the accompanying digital publication has been provided by Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky, Martha Hamilton Morris and I. Wistar Morris III, an anonymous donor, and other generous individuals.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Moorish Chief, 1878. Eduard Charlemont, Austrian. Oil on panel, 59 1/8 x 38 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Social media: To follow the conversation on social media use the hashtag #OldMastersNow

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional press information contact the press office at 215-684-7860 or pressroom@philamuseum.org. For general information, call 215-763-8100 or visit philamuseum.org.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post. Click the pictures for large images.

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Bowie

Philly Loves Bowie 2018

Philly Loves Bowie Week 2018

An Open Call to All Artists

We are currently looking for gallery ready works of art, relating to David Bowie, to be shown at an Philadelphia Olde City gallery on January 5th for a pop-up event for #PhillyLovesBowie Week January 5th – 13th, 2018. If you currently have Bowie related work, in any medium, or are able to produce a piece prior to the deadline of December 1st 2017, please send an image with the medium, dimensions, etc to bowieweek@gmail.com. You must submit images prior to your work being accepted. Please feel free to share!

Thank you to Patti Brett for the content of this post.

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FUTUREPROOF

Futureproof, HAVERFORD'S CANTOR FITZGERALD GALLERY

FUTUREPROOF at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery Explores Our Present by Interrogating How We Imagine THE FUTURE

Artists, writers, inventors, moviemakers, militaries, and think tanks have long tried to predict coming technologies or foresee catastrophic events — not merely for entertainment’s sake, but to prepare for possible outcomes, quell anxieties, or gird against tragedy. Shell Oil even has a “Scenarios” team, founded in 1965 and still working today, whose job is to explore “possible versions of the future by identifying drivers, uncertainties, enablers and constraints, and unearthing potential issues and their implications.” A new exhibit at Haverford College‘s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Futureproof, gathers work from contemporary artists on this theme with real-world images and archives from governmental and corporate scenario planners to explore how we have imagined and continue to imagine different futures.

In engineering, industrial design, and architecture, “futureproofing” typically refers to creating something in a way that minimizes or slows down technological obsolescence. Futureproofing methods are often reflective of people’s anxieties, aspirations, and assumptions about the present, sometimes acting as self-fulfilling prophecies. In this sense, they recall another form of proof—proof as mathematical argument, defined by a series of accepted axioms and truths. The artists in Futureproof engage with the many malleable interpretations of futureproofing, drawing from both the legacy of military and corporate scenario planning and the use of semi-fictionalized artifacts or archives as “proof,” or evidence, of alternate timelines or futures yet to come.

So, a 1991 in-house film on climate change produced by the Shell Corporation will be shown alongside a multi-faceted installation by Ilona Gaynor (“Everything Ends in Chaos”), featuring 2D and 3D objects with video in a piece that deconstructs corporate risk assessment. The Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History, which foresees that the detention facilities in Cuba have been closed and replaced with a museum that reflects on Guantanamo Bay’s social and political significance, will be represented, as will images and archival documents from Cybersyn Project, the real-life cybernetics economy-management operation of Salvador Allende’s Chilean government.

In a time when each day seems to bring a new cascade of political uncertainties, when every “now” is assumed to be “more than ever” and every crisis feels more unmanageable than the last, Futureproof encourages viewers to interrogate the fraught systems of the present moment and imagine how they might be otherwise.

Futureproof is curated by Ingrid Burrington and features the work of Morehshin AllahyariSalome Asega, Gui Bonsiepe and the Cybersyn Project, the United States Department of Energy, Ilona GaynorAyodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde, Shell Corporation, and The Guantánamo Bay Museum of Art and HistoryFutureproof is supported by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Futureproof will be on view Oct. 27 through Dec. 17, at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. On Friday, Oct. 27, to celebrate the show’s opening, there will be a talk by curator Ingrid Burrington at 4:30 p.m. followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. An associated screening of Peter Galison and Robb Moss’s film Containment will take place Nov. 29, at 7 p.m., in the Visual Culture, Arts, and Media building’s screening room. For details and additional related events: exhibits.haverford.edu/futureproof.

Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, associate director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and campus exhibitions, at (610) 896-1287 or mcallina@haverford.edu, or visit the exhibitions program website: www.haverford.edu/exhibits.

Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pa., 19041

Thank you to Rebecca Raber for the content of this post.

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Resist

RESIST, Off the Wall Gallery

RESIST

Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

12th Annual Community Juried Show

“I’m pleased to announce that Off the Wall Gallery and our jury have decided to donate a portion of the commission (not your proceeds!) of each sale to support two underfunded nonprofit organizations serving our immediate community:

WOMEN’S MEDICAL FUND (formerly the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Medical Fund)

http://www.womensmedicalfund.org

and

SUNDAY BREAKFAST RESCUE MISSION

http://www.sundaybreakfast.org

While not all of our art is politically motivated, once our show is up the call for social justice and voices against the current administration will be clear. What better way to back up our creative ideas and outspoken voices than the ensure we are expanding the safety net just a little and helping support more neighbors in need?!” – Togo Travalia

June 4th to August 4th, 2017

Opening Reception June 8th, 7:00 – 10:00pm

Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s, 13th and Pine Streets, Philly

Like Off the Wall Gallery on facebook

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Assembled

Philadelphia AssembledCity is Stage for Philadelphia Assembled

April through December 2017

Beginning in late April, a project entitled Philadelphia Assembled will manifest in a series of activities and actions throughout the city to illuminate and amplify a broad set of hopes, visions, and questions about Philadelphia’s future. Initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, working alongside an extensive network of collaborators—among them artists, writers, builders, storytellers, gardeners, healers, and activists—Philadelphia Assembled aims to shape a collective narrative about our city and some of the most urgent issues it faces at a time of heightened transformation. Deeply integrated into the fabric of the Museum, the project also questions the place of this institution in the midst of this change.

Philadelphia Assembled

Following this spring season of city-wide programs, the project will culminate in an exhibition opening in September at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This participatory installation, September 10 through December 10, 2017, will transform the Perelman Building’s ground floor galleries, café, and store into spaces that will celebrate the people, sights, sounds, and tastes of a resilient city’s multi-faceted identity. Admission will be Pay What You Wish.

Evocatively referred to as “atmospheres of democracy”, Philadelphia Assembled addresses a number of issues that are central to the future the city by focusing on key themes such as reconstructions—how we deal with questions of social displacement and reentry into society; sovereignty—how we define self-determination and autonomy; sanctuary—how we understand self-care, asylum, and refuge; futures—how to re-imagine our tomorrow; and movement—how we facilitate action and collective learning.

Philadelphia Assembled

Van Heeswijk’s work, which is often described as social practice or socially engaged art, combines art and activism. In this spirit, the project brings together voices of those who care about the changing landscape of Philadelphia and who, in life and work, seek to champion and secure a prosperous and equitable future for all of its citizens.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and CEO, stated, “Some of the most interesting work being done by artists today straddles the boundary between art and life.  In 2013, we invited the Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk to consider what an artist might do in engaging Philadelphia’s many neighborhoods and diverse communities. What began as a conversation has grown, and it has been fascinating—and rewarding—to watch Philadelphia Assembled take on a life of its own. We are looking forward to the moment when our galleries are appropriated to become a stage for the city itself. It promises to be exciting and full of surprises and presents an opportunity to consider how we might define the roles and responsibilities that the Philadelphia Museum of Art can play as a civic institution in a changing city in the 21st century.”

Denise Valentine, a collaborator and Philadelphia storyteller, reflected on this process: “We intend to re-imagine the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a place to unearth stories hidden deep in the soil of Philadelphia. We envision a place where narratives of the enslaved, the incarcerated, the displaced, and the disenfranchised are held in as high esteem as Eurocentric ideas about art, history, and culture.”

Philadelphia Assembled

The project’s five “atmospheres” are described below:

Reconstructions

This atmosphere will assemble personal and collective narratives of mass incarceration and gentrification. Its first site, in the Nicetown/Tioga neighborhood, will be realized in close collaboration with Reconstructions, Inc. and the Alumni Ex Offenders Association. This group will offer programs exploring concepts of home, healing and trauma in relationship to imprisonment and reentry, including a teach-in and a neighborhood-wide procession. At a second site, in South Kensington/Olde Kensington, collaborators are examining the impact of gentrification and displacement, working with the Women’s Community Revitalization Project and Healthy Rowhouse Project to re-imagine a community garden at 4th and Master Streets as a dynamic space for discussion.

Philadelphia Assembled

Sovereignty

Exploring the concepts of self-determination and autonomy, this working group is addressing land sovereignty and cooperative forms of commerce and cultural exchange. Philadelphia Assembled will create a “sovereignty room” at the African Cultural Art Forum on 52nd Street, which will serve as a dedicated space in West Philadelphia for creating unity and cultivating economic sovereignty. Established in 1969, ACAF is a community-based organization that manufactures and sells products by entrepreneurs throughout the African diaspora. In the “sovereignty room” ACAF will host skill trainings and exchanges in preparation for a large public “Sovereignty Marketplace” in June. The second site is envisioned as a network of four urban gardens located in North Philadelphia. Programming and installations across these gardens will inform the ways in which plants, seeds, and land reinforce people’s connection to ancestry and serve as vehicles for nourishment, healing, and future growth. Urban gardens involved include Urban Creators, Norris Square Neighborhood Project Gardens, Fair Hill Burial Grounds, and Stretch and Fly Youth Business Garden.

Philadelphia Assembled

Futures

The Futures atmosphere is drawing from anti-colonial ideas to model different ways of exploring the future and community building. The Futures site is an active mobile project, called the Mobile Futures Institute, which involves retro-fitting a small bus into a flexible work space that will travel throughout the city, engaging in neighborhood-based programs on issues ranging from decolonization, to environmental racism, to economic justice. Collaborators are working with community members and organizations to produce events and happenings via the Mobile Futures Institute. Current partners include the Center for Returning Citizens, Black Quantum Futurism, Friends Center, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, Norris Square Community Alliance, Mighty Writers, and the Indigenous Peoples Day Movement, among others.

Philadelphia Assembled

Sanctuary

This group has proposed a combination of sites that will explore various models of self-care, asylum, and refuge. The larger site will be realized at a central location in Center City. The site structure is a geodesic dome inspired by temporary housing units for refugees in Europe. The space will be open for a month of summer programs, offering a layered definition of sanctuary through storytelling, advocacy, and direct action. In the months leading up to the fixed site, a portable site will host a series of activities working with identified partner organizations to address the provision of LBGTQ safe spaces, issues of immigration and migration, and harm reduction relating to drug use and sex work. Partner organizations include the Attic Youth Center, New Sanctuary Movement, Prevention Point Philadelphia, and Project Safe.

Philadelphia Assembled

Movement

The final atmosphere is one in which the various Philadelphia Assembled working groups intersect. This group is focused on the project’s production, dissemination, and communication, which is manifesting in audio recordings, a dedicated film series, project-specific graphics, an interactive web platform, and site-specific publications. Another component of the Movement atmosphere is the Youth Dream Trust, which will serve as a coalition of youth across the working groups in partnership with the Village of Arts and Humanities. Working closely with Philadelphia-based collective Amber Art and Design, the group will also orchestrate the performative movement of public sites to the Museum. Carrying objects, ideas, and conversations across the city streets, this public movement will culminate in a communal presentation along the ground floor of the Perelman Building, becoming a civic stage where the city is performed.

For Jeanne van Heeswijk, Philadelphia Assembled is a forward-moving process in which she is one among many participants imagining the city’s futures together. She stated: “My work is trying to get to the essence of aesthetics, to understand it as an engaged, inclusive, and proactive practice. This type of work is about using imagination to better understand how we live together. Rising, claiming, rooting, caring, moving – this is how we build a collective exercise of care.”

Philadelphia Assembled

Members of the public are invited to join the conversation and engage with collaborators by visiting the Philadelphia Assembled website and sharing their experiences via #phlassembled @phlassembled @philamuseum.

Program Events

For a full list of public programs and locations, please visit the dedicated website at phlassembled.net. All Philadelphia Assembled programs are free to the public unless noted otherwise.

Philadelphia Assembled

About Jeanne Van Heeswijk

Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local.” Her community-embedded projects question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing and pedagogy in order to work alongside communities to take control of their own futures. Van Heeswijk’s work has been featured in publications and exhibitions worldwide, including the Liverpool, Shanghai, and Venice biennials. Accolades include the receipt of the 2011 Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change, the 2012 Curry Stone Prize for Social Design Pioneers, and the 2014 inaugural Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at the Center for Curatorial Studies and Human Rights Project at Bard College. She lives and works in Rotterdam and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Assembled

About Social Practice
Social Practice is an art medium that focuses on participation and collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the collective creation of a temporary or permanent community. The process involves careful listening, thoughtful conversation, and community organizing. This is also referred to as socially engaged art, social justice art, community art and new genre public art.

Sponsors

Philadelphia Assembled is made possible by the William Penn Foundation, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Wyncote Foundation, Nancy M. Berman and Alan Bloch, Lynne and Harold Honickman, Mr. and Mrs. Milton S. Schneider, Constance and Sankey Williams, the Mondriaan Fund, and The Netherland-America Foundation.

Philadelphia Assembled

Collaborators

Philadelphia Assembled is initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and organized with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art; Phoebe Bachman, Project Coordinator; and Sheldon Abba, Project Site Manager. Core collaborators include: Amber Art and Design, artist collective; Yana Balson, Associate Director of Exhibition Planning, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Kirtrina Baxter, community organizer and activist grower; Pascale Boucicaut, culinary artist and organizer; Maurits de Bruijn, graphic designer and web developer; Counter Narrative Society (CNS); Helen Cunningham, educator and conflict mediator; Gretchen Dykstra, Senior Marketing Editor, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Morgan Gengo, Marketing and Audience Development Manager, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Shari Hersh, Mural Arts Senior Project Manager and Founder of the Restored Spaces Initiative; Russell Hicks, entrepreneur; in•site collaborative, a research, design, and mapping collective; Nehad Khader, film curator and artist; Jason Killinger, graphic designer; Dianne Loftis, researcher and compiler; Charlotte Lowrey, Project Assistant for the Contemporary Caucus, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Zein Nakhoda, filmmaker; Michael O’Bryan, artist and youth facilitator; People’s Paper Co-op, a collaborative initiative for re-entry; Elisabeth Perez-Luna, journalist and public broadcasting producer; Damon Reaves, Associate Curator of Education, Community Engagement and Access, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Chris Rogers, educator and organizer; Kristin Schwab, community cook and organizer; 75B, design collective; Traction Company, artist collaborative studio; Denise Valentine, storyteller and activist; Phantazia Washington, LGBTQ activist and facilitator; A. M. Weaver, artist and curator; Gee Wesley, artist and curator; Jared Wood, artist; Karina Wratschko, Special Projects Librarian, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Billy Yalowitz, playwright and community-based performance artist.

Community Partners and Program Hosts

African Cultural Art Forum, Alumni Ex-Offenders Association, The Attic Youth Center, Broad Street Ministry, The Center for Returning Citizens, Coalition for Racial Justice (CoRaJus), Community Futurisms: Time & Memory in North Philly (Community Futures Lab), The Culinary Enterprise Center, Deep Green Philly, The Enterprise Center, Experimental Farm Network, Healthy Rowhouse Project, Historic Fair Hill, Laos in the House, Mighty Writers, MOVE, Mural Arts Philadelphia, New Sanctuary Movement Philadelphia, Norris Square Neighborhood Project, North Central CDC, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, Prevention Point Philadelphia, Project SAFE, Reconstruction Inc., Soil Generation, Take Back the Night Philadelphia, Ulises, Urban Creators-Life Do Grow Farm, The Village of Arts and Humanities, W/N W/N, and the Women’s Community Revitalization Project.

Locations

In the City: April – July 2017

Movement to the Museum: July – August 2017

Perelman Building, ground floor: September 10–December 10, 2017

Philadelphia Assembled is a project undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders from across the city and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The views expressed by individual participants or in materials developed as part of Philadelphia Assembled are representative of the project’s collective conception and production and are not, necessarily, the views of the Museum or any other individual involved.

Social Media
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube: @philamuseum @phlassembled

We are Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post.

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