Late 20th- and 21st-Century Art
Building a 21st-Century Collection in a Traditional Museum New
John Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
This lecture will address the way in which a curator builds a collection of new art within the context of a traditional museum. Specific themes that will be discussed include the balance between taste and judgment, new materials and new media, globalism, hybridity, and mystery. The work of artists such as Julie Mehretu, Ryan McGinness, Fred Tomaselli, Kehinde Wiley, Bill Viola, and Teresita Fernandez, among others will be explored.
Delving into Design
Margaret Hancock, Art and Design Educator
Design is all around us — from the basket carried at the grocery store to Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing #541 admired outside Virginia Museum of Fine Art's Sydney and Frances Lewis Galleries of Modern and Contemporary Art. Through the review of design concepts and completed works of art, this presentation explores the fundamentals of design. Innovation, aesthetics, elements of art, manipulation of forms and ideas, and collaboration are addressed. By delving into design, participants gain a sense of design literacy and discover how to think like designers.
Gesture: Abstract Expressionists
Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
From brushstrokes to drips and palette knives to spray cans, this lecture explores the role of the artist’s mark in several iconic paintings from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's 20th- and 21st-century collection. While abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, whose bold, energetic, and seemingly messy applications of paint are best known, a wider range of artists experimented with similar techniques. From European avant-garde artists experimenting with brutal brushstrokes of German expressionism and the loose, automatist lines of French surrealism to African American artist Norman Lewis’ explorations of black and gray tones, the marks of all these artists register an array of varied responses that run the gamut from playful to political.
Market vs. Museum: Contemporary Craft
Steven Glass, Resident Potter and Instructor, Studio School, VMFA
Many potters came of age during the "slick gallery vessel as God" period of American ceramic history, which was roughly from 1978 to 1988. It was a heady and headlong time when clay art rattled the windows of fine art mansions everywhere. Exhibitions such as The Eloquent Object were mounted and toured, showing the world how far the crafts had evolved. But by 1990, the bottom dropped out of the art market and the crafts disciplines were not excluded. This lecture examines the current state of crafts within the context of an investment-driven art market and its continuing impact on the tradition of functional pottery.
This program may be offered as a lecture/demonstration in locations with pottery studios or the required equipment and appropriate space.
Pop Art: Blurring Boundaries New
Lulan Yu, Adult Programs Coordinator, VMFA
“It was hard to get a painting that was despicable enough so that no one would hang it—everybody was hanging everything . . The one thing everyone hated was commercial art; apparently, they didn’t hate that enough either.” Roy Lichtenstein.
Pop Art brought mass culture into museums and galleries in the early 1960s, radically changing the course of art by eliminating the boundary between “high” culture and everyday life. This talk surveys the American Pop Art movement, highlighting artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, Tom Wesselmann and Marjorie Strider
Scouting the Postmodern Film Frontier New
Trent Nicholas, Film and Media Resources Coordinator, VMFA
Our current era of art and society which is now commonly referred to as the “Postmodern,” has been foreshadowed in avant-garde films and videos since the 1920s. This talk will explain and define Postmodernism and show short filmic examples, such as works by Man Ray, Joseph Cornell and Andy Warhol.
The Worlds of Nam June Paik and the Avant-Garde New
Jessica Bauserman, Youth and Family Programs Event Coordinator, VMFA
Experience Nam June Paik’s global journey on his path to becoming the father of video art. Challenge the definition of art and discover the world of new media and performance. Explore technology’s role in art, society, and culture. See how to place the seemingly mundane on a pedestal while delving into the lives and practices of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Joseph Beuys, and other Fluxus artists.
Why is That Art?
Emily Smith, Executive Director, 1708 Gallery
Looking at modern art can often be challenging. It always raises questions, even amongst the most knowledgeable viewers: What is an abstract painting "of"? How do you determine if something is "good"? A close look at the history of modern art, dating from roughly 1870 through 1950, demonstrates that the changes that occurred, chiefly that art became more abstract, were not arbitrary but rather developed along deliberate paths. Artists were not working in a vacuum but were responding to changes in technology like the development of photography, cultural moments like the industrial revolution and WWI and WWII, as well as the artists and movements that preceded them. Using works from VMFA's collection, this chronological telling of important moments in modern art provides the context in which to answer questions like those above.