"Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
," an exhibition that examines the complex nature of American art in the mid-twentieth century, will open at Reynolda House Museum of American Art on Friday, Oct. 7. The exhibition, North Carolina's first from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in nearly ten years, will remain on view through Dec. 31, 2011.
Several events will be going on during opening weekend. On opening day, museum staff will hold Looking Aloud Gallery Discoveries, a series of informal yet engaging 30-minute gallery experiences in the "Modern Masters" exhibition. The talks will be held hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are included with the price of admission.
On Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m., Wake Forest University professor of music Louis Goldstein will explore the impact that the abstract expressionist painters of New York had on the great American composer Morton Feldman. In addition, Goldstein will perform Feldman's piano music. Goldstein's most recent recording was ranked in 2010's top ten modern composition recordings by Wire magazine. This event is free for members and students and $8 for non-members.
Numerous additional programs will be going on throughout the exhibition, including Modern Thursdays from Oct. 13 through Nov. 3 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. These four special museum nights, offered for the first time at Reynolda House, are a great way to experience this remarkable exhibition. The evenings center on how the art forms of the post-war scene, such as avant-garde music, film, Beat poetry, architecture, and politically-engaged art criticism, connect to contemporary artists and intellectuals. Old records and cool refreshments will add to the atmosphere. The cost is $5 and includes all programs and light food. A cash bar will be available.
In addition, Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, will speak on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. She will discuss highlights from the exhibition, which she organized. This lecture is sponsored by Mary Louise and John Burress. This event is the launch party for Six Days in November, and is free.
"Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" explores the lives of painters and sculptors who sought to understand the motivations that shape human life, and, in doing so, created a compelling new art and emerged as visual spokesmen in post-war America. Reynolda House is the final venue of only six museums across the country to host the exhibition and the only one in North Carolina. "Modern Masters" is the first exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum to come to North Carolina since 2002.
Featuring 31 of the most celebrated artists who came to maturity in the 1950s, the exhibition examines the complex and varied nature of American abstract art through 43 key paintings and sculptures selected from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection. The exhibition is organized according to three broadly-conceived themes: "Significant Gestures" explores the autographic mark, executed in sweeping strokes of brilliant color which became the expressive vehicle for Franz Kline, Michael Goldberg, Hans Hofmann, Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, and others who came to be known as abstract expressionists. "Optics and Order" highlights Josef Albers, his exploration of mathematical proportion and carefully balanced color, and the artists who built on his ideas: Ilya Bolotowsky, Louise Nevelson, Esteban Vicente, Ad Reinhardt, and Anne Truitt. "New Images of Man" includes Nathan Oliveira, Romare Bearden, Larry Rivers, Jim Dine, David Driskell, and Grace Hartigan, each of whom searched their surroundings and personal lives for vignettes emblematic of larger universal concerns.
The William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund, the C.F. Foundation in Atlanta, and members of the Smithsonian Council for American Art have generously contributed to "Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum."