Have Art, Will Travel 

The VMFA turns the spotlight on outside works.

Art lovers often hear of international art exhibitions visiting cities such as Chicago, New York or San Francisco, but Richmond rarely plays host to such touring blockbusters. Well, let the bragging begin.

In addition to new exhibitions that feature works from its immense collection, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's expansion will allow large, internationally recognized exhibitions traveling throughout the country to appear at the institution.

The museum will feature eight traveling exhibitions during the 2010 term, on such wide-ranging subjects as German Expressionism, American quilts, photography and new media in South Africa. Robin Nicholson, the associate director for exhibitions, says the exhibits echo Richmond's diversity.

“Our goal, because we are an encyclopedic museum, is to have big exhibitions that reflect the whole breath of world cultures,” Nicholson says, enthusiastic about the exhibition “Tiffany: Color and Light,” which will be the American premiere of approximately 170 objects made by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The institution will be the only American museum to show the exhibition, on display May 29 to Aug. 15.

“What's going to be really eye-opening about it, I think, is Tiffany has been regarded as very much an American artist, working in the American sort of position if you'd like,” Nicholson says. “This exhibition is trying to say actually that he was an international figure. He had a huge impact on French artists. He was obviously doing work in Canada but really his impact both in terms of technically, in what the advances he made in use of glass, but also aesthetically, really elevates him into a higher stasis than he's enjoyed so far. And it's also going to be absolutely beautiful.”

Nicholson is also looking forward to showing work by Sally Mann, an internationally recognized photographer from Virginia. The exhibition will feature more than 100 pieces of Mann's, tackling themes such as mortality and vulnerability by using herself and her husband as subjects. Mann's often-controversial photography has been noted as painterly and nearly abstract.

“I think this exhibition is exactly what we should be doing,” Nicholson says. “I think it would be really showing our commitment to not only Virginia but to contemporary artists on a big scale. Obviously as we move forward we'll be doing a lot [more] of contemporary art than we've done in the past and I think this is our mark in the sand in terms of where this museum is heading in the future.”

As part of its opening, the museum will serve as host to three exhibitions May 1: “American Art from the McGlothlin Collection,” “German Expressionism Art from the Fischer Collection” and “Matisse, Picasso and Modern Art in Paris.”

“American Art” will feature more than 70 paintings, works on paper and sculptures dating from the antebellum to modern periods. Artists include George Bellows, Mary Cassatt and William Merritt Chase.

“German Expressionism Art” will feature work from one of the most private holdings of such art, showcasing Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Wassily Kandinsky and many others.

“Matisse, Picasso and Modern Art in Paris” will feature a large collection of European art from 1924 and 1939 collected by T. Catesby Jones (1880-1946). It will be the first exhibition in five decades that will showcase a significant Virginia art collection from both VMFA and the University of Virginia. Artists include Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Masson and Lipchitz and lesser-known artists such as Marcel Gromaire, AndrAc Lhote and Jean LurAat.

With VMFA's expansion, Nicholson says the museum will be able to facilitate whatever exhibits it desires. “I think in the past we perhaps had the collection and the curators, but we just didn't have the physical space to do these exhibitions,” she says. “But now the new wing will really allow us to do anything and we're just going to build our reputation and make sure that any major exhibitions that are traveling, that [we'll be] up there as one of the essential venues.”

What's Coming
“American Art from the McGlothlin Collection,” “German Expressionism Art from the Fischer Collection,” and “Matisse, Picasso and Modern Art in Paris”
May 1- July 18-25.

“Tiffany: Color and Light
May 29-Aug 15

“Jun Kaneko”
July 17, 2010-Feb 27, 2011
In the new E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden, this exhibit will have one of Kaneko's 8 1/2-foot tall, 3-ton monumental heads. Also features at least eight dangos, which are slender, 9-foot-tall, totemlike forms

“Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa since 1950”
Aug. 21-Oct. 24
Will feature 18 South African photographers and video artists spanning four generations during apartheid.

“American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection”
Oct. 9, 2010-Jan. 2, 2011
Approximately 50 quilts dating from the 1700s to 1850 that hold significance in early American culture.

“Sally Mann”
Nov. 13, 2010-Jan 23, 2011


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