Late 20th- and 21st-Century Art
Building a 21st-Century Collection in a Traditional Museum
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.
Return to the Flame or Retreat from the Heat: The New Wheel Order
Steven Glass, Resident Potter VMFA
Two of Great Britain’s finest academic, ceramic art institutions recently closed their venerable, scholarly doors. Harrow Westminster and Camberwell, both in London, were hallowed ground for Twentieth Century potters and sculptors. Bernard Leach, Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Mick Casson and Katherine Pleydell-Bouvierie are only a few of the “sacred ghosts” that must wonder, from their graves, what happened. The same thing will happen in America if ceramic art educators lose awareness of what made the craft movement possible after the Second World War. The New Wheel Order is a restoration and expansion of the notion of function in ceramic art. It involves the consideration of optical warmth as well as optical worth and regards function beyond mere utility. It asks the question, “When does meaning occur,” that is to say the actual experience of art. Does this experience happen in the museum, gallery or the kitchen? There is so much careerism masquerading as education that the salient issues of Craft and Creativity are often elided right out of the conversation. The New Wheel Order is akin to Cezanne’s quest for the truth as he said, “Truth lies not in verisimilitude but in how things are.” VMFA Resident Potter Steven Glass will discuss these ideas and conduct a power point presentation of contemporary ceramic art.
Pop Art: Blurring Boundaries
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
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
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.
Audio Visual: Music in Art
Margaret Hancock, Educator
Enter the world of music in art! This visual presentation delves into the unique depictions of musicians, instruments, notes and musical ephemera in a variety of works and media. From Picasso’s framed collages to Man Rays iconic photographs, the audio has greatly influenced the visual in 20th century 2-D and 3-D works of art.
Armchair Adventures: Henri Rousseau and His Fantastical Landscapes
Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Manager
Join Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Manager, Statewide Programs and Exhibitions, as he explores the unique life and work of the French artist, Henri Rousseau. The essentially self-taught painter created cityscapes and portraits as well as dream-like exotic jungle scenes without stepping out of the city. During his lifetime his work was ridiculed by critics, but now his paintings are among the most popular works produced in the 20th Century.
The Duchamp Effect: Assemblage, Combines and Collage
Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, Doctoral Student of Art History at VCU
Modern art changed forever with the French artist Marcel Duchamp’s submission of Fountain, a literal porcelain urinal, to the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. Inspired by the European Dada movement, Duchamp’s use of play, chance and everyday objects changed art-making in America. We will begin by exploring how Duchamp’s ideas were disseminated through American musician John Cage’s work. Then we will look at how Cagean aesthetics filtered into assemblage, combines and collage works of the 1950’s through 1970’s. We will consider examples from the VMFA’s permanent collection, including those by: Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, John Chamberlain, Richard Stankiewicx, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Wallace Berman, Arman, and Ed Ruscha.
Explore Post-Modern African American Art
Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, Doctoral Student of Art History at VCU
Come discuss the late 20th through 21st century African American art from the VMFA’s permanent collection! What does it mean to view art and how can we discover new things when properly looking at a work of art? Our discussion begins with simply looking. Then we will explore influences, such as race, gender or context, as well as technique and subject matter in the work of Kehinde Wiley, Julie Mehretu, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Allison Saar, Renée Stout and Robert Pruitt.