Objects in miniature have mesmerized people of all cultures throughout the ages. The CMA’s Chinese collection has an extraordinarily large number of high-quality small-scale objects and miniatures from various dynasties.
Drawing transformed radically in 19th-century France, expanding from a means of artistic training to an independent medium with rich potential for exploration and experimentation.
Newly on display from the permanent collection are two Diné (Navajo) garments from the late 1800s—a woman’s dress and a rug woven for the collector’s market, modeled on the Diné shoulder blanket. Also new on view is a watercolor from the 1920s by the Pueblo artist Ma Pe Wi (Velino Shije Herrera), who was key to a major development in Southwest Indigenous arts as Natives took control of representing their own cultures after centuries of marginalization.
The six textiles in the current installation from the permanent collection were made by weavers of the ancient Chimú civilization, which took root on Peru’s north coast in the year 1000. The garments—fabricated from undyed, white cotton and surely worn by Chimú nobility—represent the major articles of ancient Andean men’s wear. They embody important principles of the Chimú textile aesthetic, one being a love of combining different textures, some dense and sculptural and others so open and airy they are nearly invisible.
Photographs in Ink explores how artists have responded to the abundance of published photographic images that have saturated our daily lives from the 1850s through the early 2000s. The exhibition presents two intertwined narratives: the use of these processes to widely disseminate images and the adoption of them as content and aesthetic choice by fine artists. These stories are told through historical and contemporary works of art by artists from Eadweard Muybridge and Alfred Stieglitz to Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke, Carl Pope Jr., and Lorna Simpson.
Over the last five years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has acquired works by contemporary Chinese printmakers that are on display here for the first time. By bringing diversity in geography and gender to the museum’s prints and drawings collection, these artists demonstrate the exploration of the print medium in new ways and varied formats. This presentation focuses on the visual and atmospheric effects of light and water.
The current installation looks at the dynamic tension between tradition and innovation in Korean art and this tension’s transformative impacts. The selected paintings illustrate how Korean artists in the early 1900s built on and broke with tradition through new artistic languages and interpretations.
Japanese art underwent major changes with the opening of Japan to international trade in the mid-1800s. Aside from a small number of Chinese residents and a limited trade relationship with the Dutch, Japan had been closed off to interaction with people from other nations since 1639. As a result, its 1854 trade agreement with the United States, rapidly followed by treaties with European nations, generated a seismic shift in Japanese culture. Japan went from being an isolated country operating under a military regime to a country with imperialist ambitions and a representative government almost overnight. Artists who had worked within traditional patronage and workshop systems found themselves competing in a global arena and redefining what it meant to create “Japanese art” in the modern world.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is home to a collection of illuminated Buddhist and Jain manuscript pages, many of which were recently identified and dated by Phyllis Granoff, Lex Hixon Professor Emerita of World Religions at Yale University. This exhibition is dedicated to her work for the museum and is in celebration of her recent retirement. On view are palm-leaf manuscript pages reunited after having been separated, many with colophons providing new information about when and for whom they were made. The installation includes Buddhist manuscripts from the 1100s and shows the development of Jain manuscript painting from the 1200s to 1500s, alongside paintings of how they were used and vintage photographs of sites where they were kept. Small-scale sculptures in stone and gold from the same regions and periods are three-dimensional versions of imagery painted in miniature on the manuscript pages. Illuminated with narrative scenes, depictions of monks, donors, celestials, and enlightened or liberated beings, the exquisite works from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Myanmar (Burma) reveal a surprising diversity of literary sources. The exhibition explores the relationship between the images and the content of the text, adding to a broader understanding of medieval South Asian manuscripts.
Books of hours were immensely popular devotional books in the later Middle Ages. Meant for laypeople or those not in the clergy, books of hours were at-home companions containing daily prayers as well as prayers for specific occasions, such as death, plague, warfare, travel, or bad weather.
Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries offers visitors an in-depth look at a rare, complete set of tapestries in the museum’s collection that has not been displayed since 1953 because of the tapestries’ fragile condition. Each tapestry depicts seasonal activities: fishing and gardening (Spring), grain harvesting (Summer), wine making (Autumn), and ice skating (Winter). When viewed together, the tapestries represent a full cycle of life.
Seventeen rarely seen or newly acquired works have been installed in the African arts galleries. These 19th- to 21st-century works from northern, central, western, and southern Africa support continuing efforts to broaden the scope of African arts on view at the CMA.