We are super excited to offer you FOUR amazing exhibitions this summer. Yeah, we said FOUR in one summer!
Just opened for your museum-going pleasure is Ken Price: Inside/Outside.
This focused exhibition presents, for the first time, holdings in the Henry’s collection by the late Los Angeles-based artist Ken Price (U.S., 1935-2012). The pieces, dating from the 1970s to the 1990s, highlight the representational drawing and narrative approach that Price practiced alongside his more widely known abstract clay sculpture. Images of private and public, interior and exterior spaces look both inward and outward.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is Heat Wave (1995), a portfolio that takes modern Los Angeles as its subject and pairs Price’s visual imagery with the poetry of the celebrated underground poet and fiction writer Charles Bukowski (U.S., b. Germany, 1920-1994). Price’s high-keyed color images of vacant interior spaces and the traffic-clogged, yet hauntingly still, cityscape have an eerie quality and provide a visual counterpoint to Bukowski’s acerbic poems. Characteristic of Price’s work, the pleasures and promise of the colorful images give way to deeper meditations on sometimes painful and banal realities. The works in the exhibition show how Price mined physical space for psychological affect to evoke feelings of emptiness, desire, and disappointment, while inviting viewers to discover the surreal in the ordinary.
LeWitt’s Squares are specifically reminiscent of faceted classification, a library development most commonly seen in e-commerce, allowing shoppers to search, browse, and filter merchandise by categories like color, size, and price. We experience such interactions every day, yet, like LeWitt’s art, we only see the surface presentation, never thinking about the work that goes into creating the rules and guidelines that make such interactions possible. — Rachel Ivy Clarke, PhD Candidate, Information School
This iteration of VIEWPOINTS features Red, Yellow, Blue and Gray Squares, Bordered By a Black Band (1989). These four aquatint prints by Sol LeWitt, are exactly as the title describes: a colored square surrounded by a black border. Prioritizing idea over craftsmanship, LeWitt saw the artist in a role similar to that of an architect; the person who designs a building but does not build it. He developed his artistic vocabulary from basic geometric structures and how they are transformed by using these fundamental elements as regular repeated modular units or in a series which explores a range of possibilities in a logical, preset sequence. LeWitt was fascinated by the multiplicity of things that can be generated by a simple idea.
A rotating series, VIEWPOINTS presents new combinations of artworks and voices, emphasizing how works from the Henry’s permanent collection can inspire and provoke new dialogues and thoughts. LeWitt’s four prints are displayed alongside the voices of three UW faculty members: Rachel Clarke, Pre-doctoral Lecturer, Information School; Huck Hodge, Assistant Professor in Composition, School of Music; and Jay F. Neitz, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology. These three were specifically selected to respond to LeWitt’s artwork based on their research and teaching interests. We believe multiple voices can help expand our understanding of a work of art, cast a new light on overlooked details, and open our minds to new ideas.
VIEWPOINTS: Sol LeWitt will be on display on the mezzanine from June 6 through September 7.
Come and read each faculty response, and then create your own!
From 1965-95, Susan Tehon lived in Japan and frequented the monthly flea markets at the Arai Yakushi shrine in Tokyo. She purchased used kimonos, which were readily available since the Japanese did not, at the time, like to wear old or used clothing. In 2012, she donated 38 boys’ kimonos and other Japanese costumes, textile, and photographs to the Henry.
The kimonos were used in the Miyamairi (Shinto shrine visit) and Shichi-go-san (seven-five-three) ceremonies, both celebrating traditional rites of passage. The Miyamairi was for one-month-old boys, and the Shichi-go-san for three- and five-year-old boys and three- and seven-year-old girls. New research by the Henry Collections staff has revealed some of the folk tales, symbolism, and other meanings associated with the imagery on the kimonos.
In the Miyamairi ceremony, a sashed kimono, like the boy’s kimono pictured below, is draped over an infant boy when he’s taken to the Shinto shrine. The sashes may also be tied around the neck of the person holding the infant. Relatives congratulate the baby by placing paper money between the sashes.
Amulets (semamori), which are traditionally hand-stitched by mothers or grandmothers, appear where the sashes join the lapel and serve as a charm against evil.
The drum, arrow, and Shinto paper pendant on this boy’s kimono are all symbols of the warrior class. The paper strips on the pendant evolved over time from being symbolic offerings to becoming deities themselves. Warriors would attach the strips or incorporate their design on their standards (identification banners) and clothing in a show of faith.
Many of the Miyamairi kimonos have family crests at the shoulders. This boy’s kimono bears the wisteria crest. It became popular at a time when Fujiwara (“Field of wisteria”) was in power in the latter half of the Heian period, and it is one of the most intricate design motifs in Japanese heraldry. These circular emblems identified an individual or family.
Crests appeared on many artifacts, including futon covers and wrapping cloths, and seen illustrated on costumes and textiles on woodblock prints.
The Kabuki actors depicted in this woodblock print performing the play Kanadehon chishingura can be identified by the crests on their respective kimonos.
Our growing permanent collection features a rich holding of prints and photographs that span the earliest days of photography to the latest digital print technologies.
Recently, we acquired 300 objects that need to be matted and photographed to make them accessible to our visitors. Included are works by German Avant Garde photographer Ilsa Bing; Magnum photographersLeonard FreedandDanny Lyon; and renowned artistAndy Warhol.
The Henry’s print collection has been featured in numerous publications and on PBS Television’sHistory Detectivesseries. Our photography collection is a vital resource that supports our educational and community partnerships.
Our power2give project will ensure that these works of art are preserved for generations and will prepare them for display in our exhibitions, for study by students and the public at the museum, and for access through the collection search resource featured on our website.
Please make a gift to help us undertake this project over summer 2014!
This is a guest blog post by Dawn Cerny, artist and Cornish Faculty, who recently visited the Henry’s Reed Collection Study Center with her students.
For most artists a trip to an art museum is a means to see and understand materials, scale, color, texture, and thinking in a way that is impossible to do from a reproduction. Yet, in most institutions, your ability to get close to the work can be mediated by vitrines, framing, and security devises that make it difficult to see a work. Museums are a wonderful resource for studying the work of artist and the Study Center at the Henry is an incredibly helpful resource for getting closer to the work in order to understand how it is doing what it is doing.
I can cruise through the online database for objects that relate to material, thematic, or technical subjects I am teaching in class, then send my requests to Rachael Faust (who is Assistant Curator of Collections and manages the Study Center) and show up with my class, a few weeks later, to get incredibly close to examples of what I am talking about in the classroom.
It’s one thing to see a photo of an Elsa Schiaparelli dress in a book; but when you are able to look at that same dress in person, you start to comprehend that even the buttons and hand-stitched beadwork are part of a larger narrative the garment is exploring. There is something to be said for looking at a Rembrandt drypoint with a magnifying glass and seeing where he too was using hesitant marks to try and figure out the form and composition.
The Study Center acts as a wonderful satellite classroom. Faust has a tremendous working relationship with the collection and she is committed to contextualizing the objects within time, medium, or landscape. Student questions are met with enthusiasm and curiosity—if Faust doesn’t have a ready answer she will help guide a student to the answer as best she can.
My students come away from our trips to the collection buzzing with ideas and the general feeling that they have witnessed a work of art behind the curtains of the institution. I think the Study Center also serves young artists by helping them begin to comprehend the amount of labor and education that goes into taking care of a work of art decade after decade—especially in relation to their own emerging practice. It is an important part of their education that they begin to comprehend the things that artist make are in relation with larger conversations and academic dialogs—and that what they do in their studio practices matter to other people and have larger consequences.
The Henry’s Eleanor Reed Collection Study Center is open to individuals and groups of 30 or less by advance appointment. Up to 20 objects from the collection may be requested for study per visit. Study Center hours are Tuesday–Friday from 9 am–5 pm. A limited number of evening appointments between 5-9 pm are available on Thursdays and Fridays. To make an appointment, contact Study Center staff at 206.616.9630 or contact email@example.com.
Numbers give you a reference point, but don’t share an experience.
The exhibition Danny Lyon: The Bikeriders brings the 60’s forward in time. A decade of self expression, rebels, hippies, and activists, Danny Lyon takes us deep into his 1960’s with the Chicago Outlaw Motorcycle Club. Lyon rode with the Hell’s Angels from 1963-67 and documented their lives from the inside with photographs in the style of what is now called “New Journalism.” Objectivity is not a byword for New Journalists, these cutting-edge writers and photographers — including writers Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe — immersed themselves and participated in the life they documented.
Lyon’s first book, a photography collection titled The Bikeriders, was out of print for a decade and is now being reprinted with images from negatives he thought lost for 30 years. We invite you to visit the Henry and immerse yourself in his world (feel free to dress as your favorite character from the movie Easy Rider, which was inspired by Danny Lyon’s work).
This post is written by Catherine Roche, Guest Curator for Camera Nipponica: Photographs from Japan, 1880-1930.
Camera Nipponica is an unusual exhibition for a museum, as it features a collection of Japanese black and white portrait photography in which neither the photographers nor the sitters are known individuals. There are no bold names in the artist line, and no high ranking figures (as far as we can tell) in front of the lens. Rather, there are simply ordinary people—brides and grooms, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers—posing outdoors or in studio settings, commemorating a moment in time. Writer W.G. Sebald, who famously inserted caption-less photographs into his masterful and uncanny literary works, once said,
I’ve always collected stray photographs; there’s a great deal of memory in them.
Photographs are reservoirs of memory, and so-called “found” or vernacular photographs are partly so compelling because they resonate with memories to which we don’t have access. We are left only to speculate, on who the subjects were, what the occasion was, what they were thinking and feeling, and what has happened to them since.
There is one photograph in the exhibition that particularly intrigues me. It depicts two girls—sisters, most likely—wearing light, summertime yukata with checkerboard patterns and bold, abstract graphics. With raised paper fans and stylized gestures, the girls seem to be performing the Bon Odori, a sort of folk dance typically performed in the heat of August to welcome the spirits of the dead. Their masklike faces are painted with thick white makeup and bold crimson lips, yet the face paint cannot conceal their distinct personalities. There is an eerie, almost Diane Arbus-like quality to this photograph that makes it memorable. What is likely simply a studio portrait of two sisters in their festival best—in one sense the most ordinary of family photos—has somehow been made strange, and thus unforgettable.
The other photograph that I keep coming back to is a portrait of a handsome group of men seated before the wooden verandah of a Buddhist temple building in the shade of an evergreen tree. The men are wearing dark kimono and white straw boaters in a mash up of Meiji Japan and the Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames. An oval inset includes the portrait of a member of their group who for some reason was absent on “picture day.” Was he merely late, was he sick, or had he died? It is unusual details like these that make these “stray” photographs worth collecting, and recollecting.