Artis-Naples, The Baker Museum announces opening of spring exhibitions

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Artis-Naples, The Baker Museum announces opening of spring exhibitions
Jeffrey Gibson. Horizon, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 95 x 1 1/2 in. Courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio. Photograph by Pete Mauney.

NAPLES, FLA.- Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum announces the opening of Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group on March 26, and a companion exhibition, Invisible Thread. Both exhibitions will be on view through July 24.

The landmark museum exhibition Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group is the first exhibition of this important group of American modernists to be shown beyond New Mexico’s borders, and the first to be accompanied by a major scholarly publication. Another World is devoted to an often-overlooked group of 20th-century abstract artists who pursued enlightenment and spiritual illumination.

Organized by independent curator Michael Duncan and the Crocker Art Museum, this survey of 89 works made by 11 visionary abstractionists associated with the Transcendental Painting Group is drawn from a variety of private and public collections, including the Crocker’s. It aims to provide a broad perspective on the group’s work and reposition it within the history of modern painting and 20th-century American art. The presentation of this exhibition at Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum is curated by Rangsook Yoon, Ph.D., curator of modern art. This exhibition is made possible with support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

“We are honored that Artis—Naples is one of five distinguished hosts for this groundbreaking exhibition,” said CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen. “The presentation of Another World at The Baker Museum demonstrates our commitment to bringing the very best in traveling exhibitions to Naples, and to expanding our relationships with other museums and scholarly institutions.”

Museum Director and Chief Curator Courtney McNeil added “Another World shines a light on a group of extraordinarily important artists whose work has often been overlooked. The timing is certainly right for presenting key works of contemplative art that might offer solace – and also lead to spiritual reflection – during this challenging time in the world.”

“Despite the quality of their works, this group of Southwest artists have been neglected in most surveys of American art, their paintings rarely exhibited outside of New Mexico,” said guest curator Duncan, who originally planned the exhibition nearly a decade ago. A corresponding editor for Art in America whose writings have focused on maverick artists of the 20th century and West Coast modernism, he asserts that “as we settle into the 21st century, the ‘spiritual’ seems no longer a complete taboo, and art history is undergoing a vast sea change.”

Toward the end of the Great Depression, a loose configuration of artists organized to promote an alternative to the social realist and regional art that then dominated the art world. Initiated in New Mexico in 1938, the Transcendental Painting Group set out to explore spiritually heightened abstraction, employing free-wheeling symbols and imagery drawn from the collective unconscious. Under the guidance of Raymond Jonson and Emil Bisttram, artists Agnes Pelton, Lawren Harris, Florence Miller Pierce, Horace Pierce, Robert Gribbroek, William Lumpkins, Dane Rudhyar, Stuart Walker and Ed Garman sought, per their manifesto, “to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, color, light and design to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual.”

Inspired by the ideas of artist and theorist Wassily Kandinsky, as well as by American painters Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe, these artists evoked sensuous, synesthetic experiences of nature and ideas, creating works that embodied a higher spiritual reality. Though the group dispersed during World War II, their works were an important chapter in the history of 20th-century American art, today providing a compelling heritage for contemporary artists seeking to create spiritually evocative abstractions.

Invisible Thread—a companion exhibition to Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group—explores the works of 12 contemporary artists who approach spirituality, transcendence and the subconscious through abstraction and metaphorical representation. This exhibition presents a broad swath of mediums and techniques, including performance, film, sculpture and painting, while conceptually threading both abstract and representational elements together in the examination of contemporary spirituality and the continued pursuit of transcending physical mortality. Invisible Thread is organized by Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum, and is curated by Aaron Levi Garvey, Janet L. Nolan Director of Curatorial Affairs, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. The exhibition revolves around the premise that for as long as there have been free-thinking humans, there has been a certain longing to understand the intricacies of the universe, the hereafter and the mysticism held within these explorations. Throughout the centuries, artistic expression has been ever present in these pursuits to create physical representations of these experiences. Those fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the “other side” have worked to create visual, auditory or literary representations of their journeys and experiences.

Artists included in the exhibition include Lala Abaddon, Natalie Ball, David Bordett, Awol Erizku, Jeffrey Gibson, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Rachel Libeskind, Tony Rodrigues, Shikeith, Panos Tsagaris, Neha Vedpathak and Monsieur Zohore.
Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group was made possible with support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art and public policy.

A leader in arts funding in the United States, the Luce Foundation’s American Art Program was established in 1982 to support museums, universities and arts organizations in their efforts to advance the understanding and experience of American and Native American visual arts through research, exhibitions, publications and collection projects.

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