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2018 Preview

From classic to cutting edge, this year’s exhibitions celebrate expressive power
Heidi Strean, Director of Exhibitions and Publications
December 26, 2017

The Departure of Charles III from Naples to Become King of Spain, 1759. Antonio Joli (Italian, 1700–1777). Oil on canvas; 128 x 205 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P00232. Image © Museo Nacional del Prado / Art Resource, NY. In Eyewitness Views, February 25–May 20

The new year brings a spectacular slate of new exhibitions, including this summer’s highly anticipated Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. But we begin  2018 with three shows featured in this issue. Brett Weston: Photographs celebrates the artist’s striking black-and-white images that hover between representation of the natural world and geometric and formal abstraction. Graphic Discontent: German Expressionism on Paper, Emily J. Peters’s first exhibition since her appointment as curator of prints and drawings last year, takes advantage of our collection’s great strength in early 20th-century prints from Germany and Austria. And at the Transformer Station, the museum presents Dana Schutz: Eating Atom Bombs, showcasing the most recent work of Schutz, who graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2000. The new group of paintings reflects the turbulent political and social atmosphere in the US as a result of the 2016 presidential election.

Next up in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall is Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, opening in February. This touring exhibition was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum where it showed early last year, followed by a stop at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Eyewitness Views is the first exhibition to exclusively examine view paintings—more or less faithful depictions of a given locale—that also portray contemporary historical events. Throughout the 1700s, rulers, princes, ambassadors, and religious dignitaries commissioned these extraordinary works to commemorate key moments in their personal and professional lives. Dramatically staged for the enjoyment of a wide range of spectators, and typically involving extravagant costumes and elaborate temporary decorations, these events provide insight into the rituals and rare occurrences of a spectacular bygone era.

Focus on Recent Acquisitions opens in March in the Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery. Rather than collecting in quantity, the museum strives to acquire masterpieces, the very finest examples of artistic production around the globe and throughout human history. With a selection of approximately 20 objects, this exhibition highlights acquisitions made by purchase and gift over the past three years.

Opening in May in the Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz Photography Gallery, Danny Lyon: The Destruction of Lower Manhattan draws on a project that Lyon, now 75, published as a book in 1969. The images document the wholesale demolition of one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods, to allow construction of the World Trade Center.

The museum is proud to participate in the inaugural citywide program FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art this summer.  Throughout our galleries we will feature work by participating artists from the region and around the globe. Watch for details this spring.

July brings Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, a traveling exhibition organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, which promises to be a blockbuster. The show traces the evolution of the Japanese artist’s Infinity Mirror Rooms from a strategy of political liberation during the Vietnam War to a shared condition of harmony in the present. Grounded on a kaleidoscopic perception and the transience of reflection and light, Kusama’s infinity rooms invite the viewer to experience myriad dualities: utopic/dystopic, private/public, unity/isolation, obsessive/detached, irrational/rational, life/death.

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity 2009. Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, b. 1929). Wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, black glass, and aluminum. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama. In Infinity Mirrors, July 7–September 30

Ohio native Clarence H. White (1871–1925) is one of the unsung heroes of early 20th-century photography. Clarence White and His World, a retrospective organized by the Princeton University Art Museum, opens in October in the photography galleries. The works trace White’s trajectory from amateur to painterly pictorialist to internationally influential photographer and teacher.

Finally, in November we welcome an exclusive presentation of the newly conserved Valois Tapestries, a renowned group of eight late 16th-century hangings commissioned by Catherine de’ Medici. Never before shown outside the Uffizi Gallery, they will be worth the wait. 

Cleveland Art, January/February 2018