Cleveland, OH (December 17, 2017)—Recent acquisitions by the Cleveland Museum of Art include a performance piece by Pierre Huyghe, a leader in the Relational Aesthetic genre and the first work of its kind to enter the museum’s collection; an oil painting on copper by Johann König, one of the most significant masters of German painting at the beginning of the 17th century; a generous bequest of several works from Frances P. Taft, a beloved Trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art; and two groups of photos, gifted to the museum by The George Gund Foundation. The photographs were created for the Foundation’s Annual Report project, an ongoing initiative since 1990.
Durational performance explores public space and how individuals relate to one another
The CMA’s acquisition of Name Announcer by Pierre Huyghe (French, b. 1962) reflects the growing presence of scripted performance, live action and interpersonal exchange in contemporary art. When the work is activated, visitors will encounter a tuxedoed performer at the entrance to one of the museum’s galleries. He or she will politely request their name, and once they step past the greeter into the gallery, their name will be announced to everyone within earshot. In its performative formality, the piece invokes royal court protocol, only to undercut its hierarchies as everyone who enters the space is named and their presence declared with equal prominence. The work challenges the conventions of detachment and anonymity within shared public space; fellow museum-goers suddenly know each other by name. One of Huyghe’s most iconic works, Name Announcer was the first work visitors encountered at Huyghe’s celebrated retrospective exhibition organized by the Centre Pompidou, which traveled to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2014–15.
Since the early 1990s, Huyghe has been working across media, including sculpture, installation, film, performance, photographs, drawings, and music, often playfully blurring the line between fiction and reality and challenging the rituals of everyday life. Huyghe poses sophisticated questions through a diverse range of artistic strategies, and has emerged as one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Name Announcer marks a significant step in the development of the CMA’s growing collection of contemporary art. The work relates specifically to two important works in the museum’s contemporary collection: Sol LeWitt’s early wall drawing, Wall Drawing #4 (1969), and Anicka Yi’s Washing Away of Wrongs (2014). Like Name Announcer, Wall Drawing #4 is realized when a set of instructions is executed. And Yi cites Huyghe as the most important inspiration for her own artwork, which similarly tests the boundaries of what we consider to be art. Name Announcer is expected to go on view in the museum’s contemporary galleries in spring 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition Recent Acquisitions, 2014–2017, in the Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery.
The Resurrection of Christ
Painting on copper is one of the artist’s largest and most complex
The 17th-century German artist Johann König is known for small, vividly colored cabinet paintings of historical or mythological scenes on copper or vellum. He also produced a few small paintings on marble or stone, and some large decorative works on canvas, notably a series of paintings for the Rathaus (town hall) in Augsburg. König was profoundly influenced by Baroque painter Adam Elsheimer, an artist known for meticulous technique and dramatic lighting. It is likely that König met Elsheimer when they were both living and working in Italy around 1610. König’s The Resurrection of Christ was painted in 1622 after his return to Augsburg and the same year in which he was elected dean of that city’s painters’ guild.
König’s interpretation of Christ’s resurrection draws on traditional iconography: released from his tomb, a triumphant Christ soars up toward heaven’s golden light, holding in his right hand the banner of resurrection. Around the empty sarcophagus are the soldiers who were charged with guarding it. Unlike most depictions, which take place in an open landscape setting, König locates his scene within the burial chamber, using the darkness of the stone interior to heighten the impact of the blaze of heavenly light. Stylistically, the painting merges elements of a Mannerist aesthetic—powerfully muscled bodies in twisted poses, a heightened palette of acid colors—with a dynamic composition more characteristic of the Baroque era.
The acquisition of König’s Resurrection of Christ provides a strong and visually compelling foundation for growing the museum’s collection of Baroque art from the Germanic lands. The international influences in König’s work, such as the Italianate landscape view and the devotion to fastidious detail reminiscent of Elsheimer, attest to the fluid exchange among artists in the early 17th century. The Resurrection of Christ by Johann König will be shown in the upcoming exhibition Recent Acquisitions, 2014–2017 opening in the Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery in March 2018.
Frances P. “Franny” Taft Gifts
Beloved trustee bestows a generous bequest of artworks to several of the museum’s collections
Frances “Franny” P. Taft, Trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1973 to 2017 and professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art for fifty years died on May 14, 2017. Franny bequeathed to the museum several works from her personal collection. Three are by Cleveland goldsmith John Paul Miller and Cleveland silversmith Frederick Miller and were made for Seth and Franny Taft. These objects enhance the museum’s existing collection of work by these artists, adding examples of important themes and techniques used throughout their careers.
The Taft Anniversary Necklace was commissioned by Seth Taft as a gift for his wife on their golden anniversary. John Paul Miller had previously created two smaller, less ambitious works in this “gold nugget” or “fragment” style in 1971 and 1986, but the Taft necklace synthesizes Miller’s understanding of weight, balance, texture and form in a way unlike any other work before or after. It is a masterwork of goldsmithing and represents a pinnacle in his career.
The Seedpod Brooch by John Paul Miller came relatively early in his career after his landmark discovery of the technique of granulation (1952–53). Here he contrasts hammered planes with granulated surfaces to emphasize texture and enhance the drama of discovery—a technique that would become a hallmark of his naturalistic compositions.
Pair of Candlesticks in enameled silver showcase the professional relationship between mentor (Frederick Miller) and student (John Paul Miller); the silver was hand wrought by Frederick, and the enamel work was executed by John Paul Miller. The two artists worked across from each other nearly every day for forty years at the Cleveland Institute of Art and occasionally collaborated on projects. Enameled candlesticks were the most significant of their collaborations; they were sold through Fred’s business, Potter & Mellen, in Cleveland.
The foremost American Scene painter based in Cleveland, Carl Gaertner garnered respect both locally and nationally. A brooding landscape, Bend at Storm King depicts a turn in a snowy riverside road flanked by modestly scaled wooden buildings that punctuate the foreground. The subject, which depicts a well-known area in the Hudson River Valley, was inspired by his frequent travels around the environs of New York City, where he had regular exhibitions at the famed Macbeth Gallery.
The George Gund Foundation
Gifts comprised of twenty-three works by American photographers Andrea Modica and Jeffrey Whetstone
Since 1990, The George Gund Foundation has commissioned important national and local artists to photograph the foundation’s efforts in Northeast Ohio for its annual reports. Thus far, twenty-seven eminent artists have created bodies of work about Northeast Ohio.
An exhibition and book, A City Seen, presented at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2003, celebrated the Gund Foundation’s annual report project. To ensure that this artistic and historical legacy remained within the community, the foundation previously donated the prints made from 1990 through 2001 to the Cleveland Museum of Art, and will now resume that practice for prints produced between 2002 and 2011. The photographs will be given over a ten-year span from 2017 through 2027, beginning in 2017 with works from the 2003 and 2012 annual reports.
This internationally recognized Philadelphia-based artist has had over sixty solo shows during her four-decade career, including one at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1998. Her work is in the collections of innumerable museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Paris’s Bibliotheque Nationale. The Cleveland Museum of Art owns six of her photographs from series about Treadwell, New York, and Fountain, Colorado.
Modica, who works almost exclusively in black and white, is a deep and subtle observer whose portraits of people and places focus on mood and essence. Commissioned by the Gund Foundation for the 2003 annual report, Modica captured striking portraits of 12 women who launched nontraditional careers with help from the organization Hard Hatted Women, a longtime foundation grantee. Modica offers clues to the women’s lives through environment, attire, and props, yet it is their faces, body language, and the intimacy she has achieved with her subjects that reveals the most about their struggles and achievements.
A professor of photography at Princeton, Whetstone photographs and writes about the relationship between humans and their environment. For his series, “New Wilderness,” he has won the first Factor Prize for Southern Art, the George Sakkier Prize from Yale University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.
Whetstone was commissioned to photograph the Cuyahoga River for the 2012 Gund Foundation Annual Report. The eleven luminous and instructive photographs he created reflect the river’s dual role as recreational and industrial resource. In some of the works, nature is dominant and uplifting; in others, the river seems entirely at the mercy of human whim.
The Gund annual report project, originated by former foundation director David Bergholz and Mark Schwartz of the design firm Nesnadny+Schwartz, and continued under the foundation’s current director, David Abbott, is an excellent example of arts patronage combined with social advocacy.
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