Spotlights: Two Recent Acquisitions On View in French Sculpture Collection

84.10Image: Jacques Lipchitz (French, born Lithuania, 1891-1973). Harlequin with Guitar, 1926. Bronze. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope, 84.10

This summer the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is offering a special exhibition called Spotlights: Five Views into the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Collection, on view June 11-September 4, 2016. In this exhibition each of the museum’s five curators has chosen a group of objects to highlight due to their rarity, research interest, or importance, as a way of further displaying the range and quality that make the museum’s collection among the best in the country. You can find an overview of the exhibition HERE, and we will be taking a deeper look at the individual collections “spotlighted” here on the blog this summer. This week we focus on a collection of French sculpture curated by Jenny McComas, the museum’s Curator of European and American Art.

Between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, Paris was the birthplace of avant-garde movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism. While the paintings associated with these movements are well known, sculpture, too, played a significant role in the development of modern French art. The Eskenazi Museum of Art has a strong collection of sculptures by artists who were active in France during this time. While some of these works are always on view in the museum’s permanent gallery, this exhibition offers an expanded survey of our holdings in this area, including two new acquisitions, which you can see below.

2016.1Image: Charles Malfray (French, 1887-1940). Rider Crossing the Marne, 1915. Terracotta. Museum purchase with funds from Estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, 2016.1

Charles Malfray’s work blends aspects of classicism and modernism, though many of his subjects referred to his experiences on World War I battlefields. This sculpture may allude to the First Battle of the Marne, which took place in September 1914. Possibly a model for a larger work, this terracotta reveals the spontaneity of Malfray’s working process.

2016.2Image: Marcel Damboise (French 1903-1992). Peasant (La Paysanne), 1938-39. Stone. Gift of Danielle Damboise Françoise, daughter of the artist, 2016.2

Born in Marseilles, Marcel Damboise apprenticed with a stonecutter before moving to Paris to pursue sculpture. Damboise’s work is characterized by a respect for traditional forms and subjects. He also conveyed a sense of modernity by simplifying forms and giving prominence to the mark of the artist’s hand—as evidenced by the patterning carved into this sculpture’s surface. This beautiful work was a generous gift to our museum from the daughter of the artist.

The other sculptures on view as part of our Spotlights exhibition range from the figurative, classicizing sculptures of Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol to more experimental works by the Cubist Henri Laurens and the Surrealist Marcel Jean. As the center of the art world, Paris also attracted artists from around the globe. Some of these immigrants—including Jacques Lipchitz, born to a Jewish family in Lithuania; Alexander Archipenko, a native of Ukraine; and Julio González from Barcelona—were among the most important contributors to the development of French modernism, drawing both on their diverse backgrounds and their enthusiasm for Parisian culture. We hope you take the opportunity to visit the museum and see the full collection on view through September 4, 2016. Admission to the Eskenazi Museum of Art is always FREE. If you have any questions, please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

If you would like to learn more about French Sculpture visit the French Sculpture Census website.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website

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Spotlights Exhibition: Japanese Surimono Prints

70.4.73Image: Sadaoka Gakutei (Japanese, 1786[?]-1868). First Companion of the Writing Chamber: Ink, ca. 1827. Surimono: ink, metallic powders, and color on paper. Eskenazi Museum of Art 70.4.73

This summer the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is offering a special exhibition called Spotlights: Five Views into the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Collection, on view June 11-September 4, 2016. In this exhibition each of the museum’s five curators has chosen a group of objects to highlight due to their rarity, research interest, or importance, as a way of further displaying the range and quality that make the museum’s collection among the best in the country. You can find an overview of the exhibition HERE, and we will be taking a deeper look at the individual collections “spotlighted” here on the blog this summer. First up is an exquisite collection of Japanese surimono woodblock prints, curated by Judy Stubbs, the museum’s Pamela Buell Curator of Asian Art. Stay tuned for future updates. 

The Eskenazi Museum of Art is fortunate to have a collection of almost ninety surimono, or special-edition prints, in various formats. However, these appealing prints are rarely exhibited because of their light-sensitive pigments. The prints in Spotlights have not been on display as a group since 1979, when Professor Theodore Bowie (Indiana University Department of Fine Arts) curated an exhibition of surimono that was accompanied by a groundbreaking catalogue. Spotlights offers a welcome opportunity to research these prints anew, add information, and display two newly acquired prints for the first time.

The word surimono means “printed thing,” a definition that does little to explain this exquisite genre of woodblock printing, which combines poetry and imagery. Developed in the late eighteenth century, surimono prints were privately commissioned and exchanged between friends and colleagues–especially members of poetry groups–as gifts, rather than sold commercially. As such, surimono required a high level of collaboration between artist, printer, and patron. Produced in small numbers, the prints offered opportunities for the use of elaborate printing techniques and luxurious materials such as fine paper and gold and silver inks.

2016.25Image: Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807-1891). A Cock, a Chicken, and Chicks, 1861, Year of the Rooster. Surimono: ink and color on paper. Purchased with funds from the Thomas T. Solley Endowed Fund for Asian Art and the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anne Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, Eskenazi Museum of Art 2016.25

 

The prints displayed in Spotlights were made for a variety of occasions, especially as New Year’s cards, but also as eulogies, invitations, and anything related to Kabuki actors. During the Edo period (1603-1868), Kabuki plays were an extremely popular form of entertainment. Additionally, two examples of the surimono subgroup Egoyomi, or calendar prints, are on view. Initially, surimono were printed in a wide variety of sizes, until about 1810 when the shikishiban, or square print format (size 20.5 x 18.5 cm), became the norm. Surimono prints often include one or more kyoka, or “wild verse” poetry, which often take visual cues from the accompanying images to create puns for the puzzlement and enjoyment of the viewer.

2016.24Image: Ryuryuko Shinsai (active 1799-1823). Lacquer Box and Writing Implements, 1818, Year of the Tiger. Commissioned by the Shakuyakutei Poetry Group. Surimono: ink, metallic pigments, and color on paper. Purchased with funds from the Thomas T. Solley Endowed Fund for Asian Art and the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, Eskenazi Museum of Art 2016.24

 

In total, twenty-one surimono are on view in the Spotlights exhibition. We hope you will take the opportunity to visit the museum and see this rarely exhibited collection for yourself. If you would like to learn more about Japanese woodblock prints we recommend you visit the website Viewing Japanese Prints, which offers a wealth of information on the subject. If you have any questions, please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website

 

New Acquisitions: African American Art

 

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A group of local community, university, and business leaders, headed by Donald Griffin Jr., broker/owner of Griffin Realty, has formed a coalition to help the IU Art Museum build its collection of works by African American artists. These first acquisitions of what is hoped to become an annual endeavor include an ink drawing by Benny Andrews and prints by leading contemporary artists Kerry James Marshall and Martin Puryear (featured above). The installation containing these works is currently on view in celebration of Black History Month in February, and continues through July 11. You will find this installation in the museum’s Gallery of the Art of the Western World, on the first floor, just to the left of the gallery entrance. You can see a number of other works by prominent African American artists such as Thornton Dial and Robert Colescott on display in the gallery as well. For more information about works by African American artists in the museum’s collection check out our web module on African American art. If you like the new works, you can find more of Martin Puryear’s work in an exhibition currently happening at the Art Institute of Chicago, that runs through May 3. Kerry James Marshall has an exhibition of his work opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago on April 23.

Image: Martin Puryear (American, born 1941). Phrygian (Cap in the Air), 2012. Color soft-ground etching with spit-bite aquatint, aquatint, and drypoint on paper. Museum purchase with funds from Donald, Nicole, and Dexter Griffin, Janice and William Wiggins Jr., Mary E. Wiggins, Kevin and Dianne Brown, Beverly Calender-Anderson, Frank Motley and Valeri Haughton-Motley, Jay and Kenndra Thompson, and Tanya Mitchell-Yeager in honor of Black History Month, and the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, 2015.159

Recent Acquisitions: Arts of Kenya

Mijikenda peoples, Kenya. Stool, 20th century (collected 1977). Wood. IU Art Museum 2014.266

A remarkable collection of over two hundred examples of the traditional arts of Kenya was recently acquired by the Indiana University Art Museum, making it the premier art museum in the country for research on traditional Kenyan visual arts.

The objects were field-collected in Kenya between 1973 and 1979 by Los Angeles collector and dealer Ernie Wolfe III. The collection is particularly strong in the arts of pastoral peoples, especially the Turkana and the Maasai, but it includes objects for everyday and special occasions from all over Kenya. About half of the collection consists of jewelry—bracelets, armlets, necklaces, earrings, labrets—and garments of hide, beads, ivory, and metal. Containers for food, drink, and personal items made of wood, calabash, hide, basketry are also well represented, as are stools and headrests. Walking sticks, shields, weapons, and tools round out the collection. A similar collection could not be assembled today because many of the objects are no longer being made or used.

Pokot peoples, Kenya. Headrest. 20th century (collected 1978). Wood, leather, glass beads, IU Art Museum 2014.247

As Ernie Wolfe considered a permanent home for this collection, his long friendship with Roy Sieber, who taught African art history at Indiana University from 1962 until his death in 2001, made Wolfe think of the IU Art Museum. Indeed, the collector has noted that Roy Sieber encouraged him to keep careful documentation of objects as he acquired them, and, as a result, each of the Kenyan objects has come to us with information about when and where it was acquired as well as how it was used.

Acquisition of this collection was made possible by the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Fund, which supports the arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Native and Pre-Columbian Americas at the IU Art Museum, with generous assistance from the IU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. Additional objects in the collection made of ivory, which can no longer be sold in the U.S., were given to the IU Art Museum by the Wolfe family in honor of Roy Sieber.

First shown in 1979 at the National Museum of African Art, this remarkable collection of the arts of Kenya will be on view in the IU Art Museum’s Special Exhibitions Gallery in spring 2016. Plans are also currently underway for a website to make images of the objects and information about them available worldwide.

Diane Pelrine
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Curator of the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific,
and the Americas.