NORFOLK, VA.- The Chrysler Museum of Art
today announced the acquisition of Munchkins I, II, & III (1964), a major Pop art painting by Idelle Weber. More than 17 feet in length, this monumental three-panel painting is a keynote work by Weber, a leading female figure of the American Pop art movement. The Museum has also acquired two other important works by Weber that reference the gender politics and Mad Men mentalities of the mid-20th century: High CeilingYou Wont Get This (1964) and Mr. Chrysler (1970).
Though her male counterparts in Pop art enjoyed more regular exhibition opportunities in the 1950s and 60s, Weber has since undergone a significant critical reevaluation in recent years, reflecting an increased recognition of female artists contributions to the Pop art canon. Munchkins I, II, & III, in particular, will be featured this fall in Pop Art, the latest in Prestel Publishings 50 Works of Art You Should Know series, along with paintings by other Pop giants including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, and Robert Rauschenberg.
Munchkins I, II, & III, named after the anonymous, interchangeable little people of The Wizard of Oz, portrays nameless workers in the urban rat race. The painting exemplifies Webers signature use of black silhouette figures overlaying monochromatic backgrounds. Weber employs a similar style in High CeilingYou Wont Get This and Mr. Chrysler, works on paper that draw upon the aesthetic conventions of Pop, Minimalism, and commercial advertising. High Ceiling depicts a pair of female secretaries, one young, one older, toiling in the shadow of New Yorks Chrysler Building, while the faceless Mr. Chrysler alludes to the corporate successes of the family of Walter Chrysler, Jr. (19091988)a noted art collector whose donations form the core of the Chrysler Museums nationally recognized collection.
The Chrysler Museums Pop art holdings include many works that represent pivotal moments in the movements history, from Roy Lichtensteins first-ever depiction of war in Live Ammo (Ha! Ha! Ha!) to James Rosenquists aesthetically transitional painting Silver Skies, said Amy Brandt, the Chryslers McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. As the magnum opus of one of Pop arts leading female practitioners, Munchkins I, II, & III is an ideal complement to these distinctive works. Similarly, Webers references to the Chrysler business dynasty in High Ceiling and Mr. Chryslerboth important works in their own rightmake them especially appropriate additions to a collection that is itself part of the Chrysler legacy.
The addition of these outstanding pieces strengthens the Chrysler Museums growing collection of works created in the 20th century, said Museum Director William Hennessey. Were especially excited to display Munchkins I, II, & III in our newly expanded Modern and Contemporary galleries, which will provide the space and flexibility necessary to present a work of this size.
The Chrysler Museum is currently undergoing a renovation and expansion project that will enable it to completely reinstall its collection and develop new exhibition and interpretive strategies. Opening in April 2014, the expanded facility will include significant enhancements to the Museums modern and contemporary galleries, reflecting the rapid growth of this area of the collection in recent years.