CLEVELAND.- The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) today announced a number of significant acquisitions approved by the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees at its September meeting. Among them are three especially noteworthy additions to the museums encyclopedic collection.
As we continue with the phased reinstallation of our collection over the next four years, we are working to strengthen our collection in key areas through the acquisition of works of art of exceptional aesthetic and historical significance, said Timothy Rub, CMA director.
Spring Rain Thatched Hut, a rare landscape by the Chinese painter Wang Jianzhang
A rare monochromatic landscape by the painter Wang Jianzhang (Chinese, active about 1625-1650), Spring Rain Thatched Hut, (handscroll, ink on paper, 1650) captures the moist atmosphere of spring and transforms a garden into an unworldly realm that evokes a mood of tranquility. Very little is known about the artist and the authenticity of his paintings is often difficult to prove. Wangs name is infrequently mentioned in art history, and no work of any consequence has been identified in China. This beautiful and reliably documented handscroll is therefore a rare and worthy acquisition and becomes only the second by this artist in the CMA collection.
The scene depicting willow streams, distant mountains, humble cottages, and winding paths is painted with a fluent brush and light washes in a free, subtle manner with striking simplicity and eloquent use of empty space. The subject of this work is a retreat that belonged to Gong Weiliu, a jinshi graduate (completed exams to serve in Chinese bureaucracy) from Taizhou in Jiangsu province, briefly a Ming official, and a close friend and important patron of the artist.
He commissioned two of his closest friendsYun Xiang and Wang Jianzhangto paint his garden. The whereabouts of Yuns painting is no longer known, but this surviving work by Wang was kept in the Gong family collection for several generations. Mounted in the same scroll are 13 colophons dedicatory poems or essays written by members of Gongs poetry society, some of whom were eminent figures of the day. Thus this work is also an important testament to the eras intellectual brilliance and literary achievements.
Weems portfolio The Kitchen Table Series boosts holdings of contemporary and African American Photography
Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953), a political activist in the 1970s, turned her considerable energy and passion to art in the early 1980s and emerged as one of the most important and original artists of her generation. Weems explores the experiences and culture of African Americans by a variety of different means: photography, mixed media, and poetry. Working primarily in series, she concentrates on the manner in which images shape our perceptions of color, gender, and class. This portfolio is a major addition to the museums contemporary photography collection and significantly enriches its holdings of works by African American photographers.
The Kitchen Table Series (20 platinum prints, 14 text sheets, edition 2/10, 1990) presents the viewer with a fictional narrative acted out in a series of tableaus. The simple setting of a kitchen table and overhead lamp is repeated in all of the compositions. In the series, the artist emphasizes understanding African Americans as people first. Four primary topics are explored: the love relationship between a woman and a man; a woman seeking consolation from friends and family; a womans role as a mother; and a woman coping with being alone. The images in the series are accompanied by a narrative in the form of text panels that reveal the female protagonists private doubts, beliefs, and ambitions.
Barletts Song strengthens the CMAs holdings of contemporary art
The acquisition of a new work by the noted contemporary American artist Jennifer Bartlett (American, born 1941) entitled Song (enamel over silkscreen grid on baked enamel, steel plates, 2007), was also approved by the museums Collections Committee. A magisterial work, it comprises 180 enameled steel plates and, when fully installed, stretches 97 feet in length. Each plate in Song is composed of a different pattern composed of hand painted dots in a beige or sandy color and black set within a silk-screened grid. Serial in form, although not mathematical in structure, Song is composed in sections, each discrete, but visually related to the others. It is also open-ended in nature, allowing for a continuous reading, from left to right or in the opposite direction, in which passages amplify, ignore, or negate each other, and create different, coexisting rhythms.
A partial gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art from long-time supporter Agnes Gund, Song is the latest in a series of large, multi-part works that Bartlett has created throughout her career and which many would count among her finest achievements. Symphonic in scale, they reflect the origins of her art in the minimalist art of the 1960s and demonstrate how she enriched and built upon a simple vocabulary of forms, establishing a voice that is richly nuanced and unique among the work of her contemporaries.