Today at the Museum
Sunday, October 2, 2022
This exhibition celebrates the extraordinary gift and promised gift of art made by Clevelanders Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley to the Cleveland Museum of Art. In March 2020, the Keithleys gave more than 100 works of art to the museum—the most significant gift since the bequest of Leonard C. Hanna Jr. in 1958.
Julie Mehretu: Portals offers a fresh perspective on the Cleveland Museum of Art’s encyclopedic collection through an artist’s eyes. This exhibition, the first of its kind at the CMA, integrates paintings by Julie Mehretu with works from the museum’s permanent collection that Mehretu has selected and curated within the gallery. Spanning a range of cultures, histories, and mediums, the works she has chosen reflect images and ideas that inspire her own artistic practice and process. Julie Mehretu: Portals is the start of a long-term engagement between Mehretu and Cleveland. She is creating a permanent outdoor mural downtown that will debut in 2023.
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.
Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, the second iteration of FRONT International, is a multivenue exhibition that embraces art as an agent of transformation, a mode of healing and a therapeutic process. FRONT 2022 explores how art making offers the possibility to transform and heal people. The triennial also demonstrates how aesthetic pleasure can bridge differences between people to bring them together. Finally, the exhibition suggests ways that art making can speak with power: showing people how to recognize and reimagine the invisible structures that govern contemporary life. As part of the multivenue exhibition, the CMA has organized seven presentations throughout its galleries.
Americans Matt Eich (b. 1986) and Tyler Mitchell (b. 1995) share an interest in belonging, transformation, and the American South. Eich was born, raised, and lives in Virginia. Mitchell, who resides in New York City, was born and raised around Atlanta and returned there to shoot his recent work. Eich and Mitchell set joyful scenes of relaxation, languor, and personal contentment into the Southern landscape. Both artists use photography, most often associated with recording fact, to suggest the possibilities of transformation, a delight in the senses, and the engaging mystery of the transitory.
This exhibition presents more than 50 works made by Eisenman at three New York–based printshops: 10 Grand Press, Harlan & Weaver, and Jungle Press. In close collaboration with master printers there, the artist has experimented with a range of printmaking techniques—including monotype, etching, woodcut, and lithography—exploring the unique traits of each. Drawn from the collections of Eisenman and their collaborators, the works on view reveal how printmaking has emerged as a primary vehicle for this important contemporary artist to explore foundational themes and ideas central to their work, translating them inventively across media.
Firelei Báez, an American artist of Haitian and Dominican descent based in New York, is known for her large-scale paintings and immersive installations, like the one here. Báez’s work ties together subject matter mined from a wide breadth of diasporic narratives, or stories that evolve and travel like people across the globe. In doing so, Báez positions her work in critical conversation with the history of Western art, seen elsewhere in the Cleveland Museum of Art. This installation is part of an ongoing series in which the artist reimagines the archaeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in northern Haiti, underscoring its position as an enduring symbol of healing and resistance.
One of the most celebrated contemporary Japanese artists, Yoshitomo Nara makes work across mediums that draws on a range of sources, including music, literature, and childhood memories. Over nearly four decades Nara has developed a signature style that integrates features of Asian and Western culture, reflecting the artist’s movements around the globe. This pair of recent works highlights two essential directions within Nara’s art practice.
In times of a pandemic, migration crises, and frequent natural and humanitarian disasters, the theme of Escaping to a Better World may resonate with many of us. In fact, this idea has long been part of China’s culture, embedded in the country’s religious and philosophical thinking. China’s legendary eccentrics and immortals often exhibit unconventional appearances and behaviors, expressing supernatural power and a rejection of everyday norms. By doing this, they embody the longing for an ideal world. This installation presents paintings, porcelain, and metalwork, all mediums in which these popular figures and their stories were depicted throughout the ages, including today.
Creating Urgency: Modern and Contemporary Korean Art sparks a stimulating discussion about contemporary Korean artists and their expressive language of defining diasporic artistic identities. Korean-born French painter Ungno Lee (1904–1989) reimagined traditional Korean ink painting and its conventional methods through his exploration of Art Informel (French Abstract Expressionist approaches of the 1940s and ’50s). The Berlin-based Korean artist Haegue Yang (b. 1971), on the other hand, invites the audience to critically explore issues of identity, migration, and displacement. The selected works on display share each Korean artist’s experiences and challenges in the global art scene.
A significant share of paintings, prints, and decorative arts made in Japan from the mid-1700s to mid-1800s captured artists’ responses to urban sex and entertainment districts unofficially known as the ukiyo (浮世), or “floating world.” The term “ukiyo” was repurposed in the late 1600s from its much older use in Buddhism, where it described human frailty in the face of constant change. The new floating world, designed as an escape from the constraints of daily life for male government servants, thrived on ephemeral experiences and suggested a kaleidoscope of enjoyable possibilities. In addition to paintings, prints of courtesans and musicians vie with those of Kabuki actors and a sumo wrestler for attention in the spring installation (April 8–July 10), while prints of boating parties on the Sumida River feature in the summer installation (July 12–October 9).
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.
The textiles in the current rotation from the permanent collection represent several different civilizations that flourished in the ancient Andes, today Peru and parts of adjacent countries. Though unrelated by cultural affiliation, they are unified by being special in some way, whether through rarity, complexity of execution, or luxuriousness of materials. The centerpiece of the display is a unique cloth that experts regard as one of the greatest paintings to survive from South American antiquity. One of the museum’s masterpieces, it was created by an artist of the Nasca culture (100 BC–AD 650) and depicts a procession of figures who may represent humans dressed in the guises of supernatural beings thought to control nature’s fertility. Other textiles in the rotation include a panel covered in the radiant feathers of the blue-and-yellow macaw, made by artists of the Wari Empire (600–1000), and several fragments that are rare survivors of catastrophic rains that destroyed much of the Moche culture’s (AD 200–850) textile legacy.
Works from the permanent collection newly on display in the Native North American gallery include a group of objects from the Great Plains—a child’s beaded cradle; a woman’s hair-pipe necklace, one of the most memorable of Plains ornaments; and several beaded or painted bags that served varied purposes. A basket rotation features creations that Timbisha Shoshone (Panamint) weavers of California’s Death Valley made for the early 20th-century collector’s market; most dramatic are three fine, large presentation bowls modeled on Native food service bowls. Finally, for the first time in at least 20 years, two works by contemporary Inuit artists of the Canadian Arctic make an appearance. One is a 1972 stonecut print by Alec (Peter) Aliknak Banksland, a founding member of the Holman Eskimo Arts Cooperative, now the Ulukhaktok Arts Centre in Ulukhaktok, Canada.