Published: December 26, 2006
Harvard University Art Museums are presenting three special exhibitions that highlight their increased commitment to the field of contemporary art. Each of the three art museums — the Fogg Art Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum — currently has an exhibition of contemporary works on view.
Together, these exhibitions represent a diverse range of media, objects and geographical classifications. The exhibitions reflect the art museums’ initiative to increase their capacity to show and collect contemporary art by expanding their holdings of these works, while planning for future facilities in Allston Brighton where gallery space will be designed primarily for modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
“Nominally Figured: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Art,” on display at the Fogg Art Museum through February 25, represents the most recent acquisitions of contemporary works by the Harvard University Art Museums. The installation reflects an emphasis on work using the body, body parts, schematic notation, or figures of speech and text. While the dialogue between figuration and abstraction dominated much of the discourse around mid-Twentieth Century art, this exhibition features works with an expanded notion of the figure as an artificial construction that is evident in most art today.
The installation includes sculpture, drawings, paintings, photographs and video by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Carl Andre, Liz Larner, Richard Artschwager, Frank Egloff, Paul Feeley, John Wesley, Mel Bochner, Paul McCarthy, Dennis Oppenheim, David Hammons, Steve McQueen and Bruce Nauman.
The exhibition was organized by Linda Norden, former associate curator of contemporary art, and will be installed in two rotations. The first rotation runs through October 15, and the second will run October 21–February 25.
“German Art of the 1980s from the Heliod Spiekermann Collection” is on view at the Busch-Reisinger Museum till December 3. More than 25 years ago, Heliod Spiekermann began collecting art by her contemporaries, becoming a deeply involved, passionate and acute observer, especially of the rise of Cologne as an art center in the 1980s.
Getting to know artists through extensive studio visits and as patients in her dentist’s chair, she has gathered a distinguished personal collection that provides an ideal starting point for looking back at the art of a decade currently undergoing renewed scrutiny and reevaluation. This exhibition of loans presents five major paintings and sculptures by Georg Baselitz, Georg Herold, Albert Oehlen and Rosemarie Trockel. The exhibition was organized by Peter Nisbet, Daimler-Benz curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum.
“The New Chinese Landscape: Recent Acquisitions,” an exhibition showcasing the Harvard University Art Museums’ most important contemporary Chinese acquisitions to date, is on display through November 12 at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. This tightly focused exhibition of six paintings and one sculpture represents an often overlooked category of works that push the boundaries of what the term “contemporary” means in non-Western contexts.
Identified as contemporary Chinese ink paintings, these works are characteristic of both classical ink landscapes and contemporary art. In some instances, it is an entirely new approach to the Chinese landscape. In others, it is a newly invented type of brushwork or a reliance on classical Chinese models different from those sanctioned by earlier generations of traditional artists.
The artists’ use of new techniques, styles, and both Western and Chinese sources of inspiration, while working within the framework of traditional materials, formats and subjects, clearly sets their works apart from traditional Chinese ink paintings and distinguishes them as contemporary. The exhibition was organized by Robert D. Mowry, Alan J. Dworsky curator of Asian art.
The Fogg Art Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum are at 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge. Adjacent to them is the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at 485 Broadway. For information, 617-495-9400 or www.artmuseums.harvard.edu.
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