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Alexander Calder and Michelangelo Exhibitions Highlight the 2009-2010 Exhibition Lineup at Seattle Art Museum


SEATTLE, WA.- The Seattle Art Museum announced its 2009-2010 exhibition schedule, including a major exhibition of the work of Alexander Calder and an intimate group of drawings by Michelangelo, both opening October 15, 2009 .

From small-scale works on paper and jewelry to monumental sculptures and one of the artist’s largest mobiles, Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act is a large-scale exhibition of the work of the American master sculptor. Drawn primarily from private collections, the exhibition includes more than 80 pieces many of which have rarely been seen by the public. These bold sculptures and two-dimensional works will trace Calder’s development and amazing creativity, offering viewers a sense of the full range of his work from 1927 through the mid 1970s, with a particularly in-depth look at his most celebrated period from the late 1940s. The chronological arrangement made possible by the size of this exhibition will also showcase the subtle shifts in Calder’s development as an artist. An accompanying group of photographs and films showing the artist at work will give a true sense of the man behind one of the 20th-century’s most recognizable styles.

The man behind one of the 16th-century’s most recognizable styles – in fact, one of the most influential artists in the history of Western civilization – is revealed in Michelangelo Public and Private: Drawings for the Sistine Chapel and Other Treasures from the Casa Buonarroti. Organized by the Seattle Art Museum (the exhibition’s only venue) in collaboration with the Casa Buonarroti, Florence, this exhibition shows a side of this unequivocal master that he never wanted the public to see. Renaissance biographer Georgio Vasari tells us that Michelangelo burned most of his drawings and other preparatory works before his death “so that no one should see the labors he endured and the ways he tested his genius, and lest he should appear less than perfect.” He purposefully cultivated the reputation of an inspired genius, for whom completed masterpieces appeared in his mind and came to being through a single, near-divine effort. This was far from the truth, however, as the master worked meticulously and tirelessly behind the scenes to perfect his works through drawings, models and casts.

The largest collection of Michelangelo’s drawings still in existence resides at the Casa Buonarroti, although for conservation reasons only a small handful can be on view at a given time. Twelve of these drawings are traveling to the Seattle Art Museum as the centerpiece of Michelangelo Public and Private – a small but powerful exhibition that humanizes the great master, exposing his working process that led to masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes. In addition to drawings and models that reveal Michelangelo’s process, the exhibition includes works by Michelangelo’s contemporaries and generations of followers and admirers. Painted and sculpted portraits and commemorative medals celebrating his life demonstrate the “cult of Michelangelo” that had already begun during his lifetime. Engraved copies of passages from the Sistine Chapel ceiling reveal the original appearance of Michelangelo’s grand opus and prove the demand that existed for images of his work. Bringing all of these together with intimate drawings by the master’s own hand, Michelangelo Public and Private offers a rare glimpse at the artist’s humanity and the longevity of his vision, confirming Michelangelo’s status as an exceptional artistic genius.

SUMMER 2009
Alexander Calder and Michelangelo Public and Private follow a summer of twentieth-century art. Opening June 25, Target Practice: Painting Under Attack: 1949-78 is an international, historical survey of the assaults – both physical and theoretical – that painting endured in the years following World War II, documenting why artists felt compelled to shoot, rip, tear, burn, erase, nail, unzip and deconstruct painting in order to usher in a new way of thinking. Target Practice includes works by well-known artists like Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, as well as lesser-known peers who were making equally challenging work in Europe, Asia, South America and North America. With more than 70 works of art, including documentary photographs and video, Target Practice introduces a compelling way to appreciate the breakthroughs made by a new generation of artists in the fertile years between 1949 and 1978.

In stark contrast to the works in Target Practice, and also opening June 25, Andrew Wyeth: Remembrance focuses on seven paintings that span the career of one of America’s most beloved painters and show his favorite subjects: his wife Betsy and the land around their farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; his neighbor Karl Kuerner; and Kuerner’s nurse Helga Testorf – Wyeth’s favorite model and the subject of the famous series of watercolor and tempera portraits known as the Helga pictures. Produced during the same period as the works on view in Target Practice, Wyeth’s thoughtful, evocative and deeply personal paintings conjure his remembrances, he once said, of childhood sensations and a life lived wholly within the circumscribed worlds of rural Chadds Ford and Cushing, Maine, the two places where Wyeth’s life and art were centered.

Works inspired by the life and work of cultural icon Kurt Cobain, an unexpected pairing of the graphic works of James Ensor and Georg Baselitz, delightfully sensual Japanese woodblock prints from a prominent local collection, and much more, round out the Seattle Art Museum’s 2009-2010 exhibition schedule. See the attached, full calendar for up-to-date details of what is coming up.





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