The Fountain at 100

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Marcel Duchamp (French, active in the United States 1887-1968). Fountain, 1964 edition (original 1917). Painted ceramic. Partial gift of Mrs. William H. Conroy. Eskenazi Museum of Art 71.37.7

One of the jewels of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University’s collection is a complete set of the 1964 edition of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades. Duchamp was a French artist who was associated with the Dada movement, which sought to redefine traditional artistic practices. During World War I, Duchamp moved to New York City, where he became a central figure in that city’s artistic community. Duchamp’s major contribution to Dada—and to modern art more generally—were the Readymades, mass-produced objects that he presented as works of art. Duchamp undermined the original functionality of the objects through slight alterations or by installing them in an unusual way. By emphasizing an intellectual approach to art over craftmanship or stylistic expressivity, Duchamp posed a serious challenge to long-accepted definitions of art. His radical thinking of artistic practice inspired the development of conceptual art and the use of nontraditional materials within the realm of fine art.

The year 2017 marks the centennial of Fountain, the most famous—and notorious—Readymade. One hundred years ago, in April 1917, the Society of Independent Artists in New York refused to display Fountain—a urinal turned on its back and signed “R. Mutt”—in its annual exhibition. Because Fountain and many other original Readymades were lost not long after their creation, Duchamp and the Milan gallerist Arturo Schwartz decided to produce a replica edition of these works in 1964. The reproduction of the Readymades acknowledged their significance to the development of modern art. The Eskenazi Museum of Art is one of only three museums worldwide that holds all thirteen Readymades reproduced in the 1964 edition. The installation Fountain at 100 celebrates the Readymades, with special emphasis on Fountain, on view in the museum’s first floor Gallery of Art of the Western World from January 24 through May 7, 2017. Works by artists inspired by Duchamp—Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, and Lucas Samaras—will also be on view. We hope you take this opportunity to visit and see Duchamp’s Readymades in person for yourself.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art will also be hosting a free Noon Talk on February 15, 2017 from 12:15-1:00 p.m. entitled “Out of the Box: The Legacy of the Readymade,” presented in conjunction with Fountain at 100. Andrew Wang, graduate assistant for European and American art, will discuss the influence of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades on Jospeh Cornell, Louise Nevelson, and Lucas Samaras. This Noon Talk will take place in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World, first floor, and is free and open to the public. No prior reservation is necessary to attend.

Please visit the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Website for gallery hours and more information on visiting the museum. Admission at the Eskenazi Museum of Art is always FREE. 

 

Lou Block: An Unexpected Slice of Life

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Image: Lou Block (American, 1895-1969). Conversation No. 1, ca. 1960. Gelatin silver print. Henry Holmes Smith Archive, Eskenazi Museum of Art 200.X.18.1

Today we bring you a look into the work of American photographer Lou Block by Nan Brewer, the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper. Block’s work, along with that of other influential photography professors, including Minor White, Allen Downs, Aaron Siskind, and Indiana University’s first photography professor, Henry Holmes Smith, will be on view in a new installation, Modern Pioneers: Professors of Photography, from November 8, 2016, through May 7, 2017, in the museum’s first floor gallery of the Art of the Western World. 

Lou Block is primarily known as a muralist, illustrator, and arts administrator, and served as a supervisor for the WPA Federal Art Project in New York City. During his tenure with the FAP he raised issues of racism and segregation within the government-sponsored organization, particularly the rejection of designs by black artists for the Harlem Hospital. Block was also involved politically with the Artists Congress and Artists’ Union, which organized an artists’ strike in 1934. Having worked with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera on his controversial Rockefeller Center murals, Block understood the power of art to move people and recognized the importance of truthfulness.

Inspired by his friend Ben Shahn, Block took up the camera as well as the brush and pen. He approached photography with the same honesty and creative passion as he did his other work. During his years in New York City he photographed numerous mural projects (many now lost), the Artists’ Union strike, and studies for a mural proposed at Riker’s Island. In 1951 Block moved to Kentucky, where he taught painting and creative photography at the University of Louisville. His later photographs include shots taken in Louisville, Mexico, New York City, and New Jersey.

Block’s photographs continued in the documentary tradition of the Farm Security Administration, while embracing the grittier, urban style of the New York Photo League. This image with its closely cropped focus on two foreground figures offers an intimate look into their private world. Never overly sentimentalizing or condescending to his subjects, Block used a 35mm camera to record as unobtrusively as possible a fleeting moment in time. While the interaction between the women is the central focus of the picture, the blurred tapestry of street life seen in the background provides the social context. Like the street photography of Robert Frank—whose book The Americans was published in the US in 1959—Block’s image relies on gesture and unexpected juxtapositions to reveal the whole story.

Nanette Esseck Brewer

The Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website

New in the Galleries: Modern Sculptors in Indiana

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In celebration of the Indiana State Bicentennial, the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is featuring a special installation titled Modern Sculptors in Indianawith works by renowned sculptors who were born, worked, or studied in the state. The works on display represent the diversity and pluralism of modern sculpture and range from representative figures to geometric forms. An official Bicentennial Legacy Project, this installation commemorates the rich artistic heritage of Indiana and showcases some of the state’s most influential sculptures. It is on view through March 12, 2017 in the museum’s first-floor gallery of the Art of the Western World. Originally from Concarneau, France, Robert Laurent is perhaps one of the best known artists to contribute work for the Bloomington campus. His figurative sculpture The Birth of Venus (also known as the Showalter Fountain) is located in the Fine Arts Plaza next to the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Laurent worked primarily in Bloomington for the last two decades of his career and taught at Indiana University from 1942 to 1960. Some of his other works can be seen throughout campus, namely at the IU Auditorium and on the façade of Ballantine Hall. This installation features Torso, Laurent’s walnut sculpture of a female form from 1924. Representative of his lifelong interest in smooth and elegant surfaces, Torso provides visitors an intimate view of one of Laurent’s earlier small-scale works, which preceded the public and monumental sculptures of his late career.

Bloomington locals may also be familiar with Alexander Calder’s large, abstract sculpturePeau Rouge Indiana, outside Indiana University’s Musical Arts Center. Born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, Calder gained international attention for his suspended mobile sculptures. In contrast, Peau Rouge Indiana is a “stabile,” or monumental and stationary steel sculpture.Despite its inability to move, the overlapping and intersecting abstract planes, as well as its striking red color, dynamically activate the space it occupies. A maquette, or preliminary model,of Peau Rouge Indiana is on view in the Indiana Sculptors installation, providing an opportunity to explore Calder’s early working process. The other artists in the installation have also expanded the parameters of modern sculpture, both in Indiana and on an international scale. David Smith, the abstract expressionist who influenced many of the other artists in this installation, worked in South Bend in the early 1920s and was a visiting artist at Indiana University from 1955 to 1956; David Hayes received degrees from both University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, where he worked with Smith; George Rickey,a South Bend native, created intricate kinetic sculptures; and Isamu Noguchi, known for his surrealist-inspired, biomorphic sculptures, moved to Indiana from Japan at the age of thirteen.

We hope you take this opportunity to visit us at the Eskenazi Museum of Art and see the work of some of Indiana’s most significant twentieth-century sculptors. If you have any questions, please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

Post by Andrew Wang, IU Eskenazi Museum of Art Graduate Assistant for European and American Art.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website
New in the Galleries
Restoring Peau Rouge Indiana

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

David Hockney: New Acquisitions

The IU Art Museum’s new exhibition David Hockney: New Acquisitions adds both collage with color photography and digital art to the Gallery of the Art of the Western World. Heidi Gealt chose to add Paul and Margaret Hockney and My Mother Sleeping to the IU Art Museum’s collection because they both display Hockney’s tendency to use images of his loved ones in his art. Paul and Margaret Hockney also illustrates his interest in using technology through both medium and subject.

Paul and Margaret Hockney, 2009
Inkjet-printed computer drawing on paper
Museum purchase with funds from Anthony Moravec and the IU Art Museum’s Art Acquisition Fund, 2011.57

David Hockney is often named Britain’s most influential living artist and is continually creating new works that are on display around the world. He is well known for his Hollywood swimming pool images, which were popular in the 1970’s, and his colorful landscapes. Over the summer, I studied Economics in Spain through one of SPEA’s study abroad programs. My classmates and I planned a trip to Bilbao so we could experience the Guggenheim Museum and the its featured exhibition, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. This massive exhibit of 150 landscapes took up the entire second floor of the Guggenheim. One of the features of the exhibit was Hockney’s use of digital art. In 2008, Hockney began using his desktop to create drawings because it was a faster way to do sketches.  He then started drawing flowers on his iPhone each day and sent the images to his friends for opinions on his new technique. After becoming more experienced with this technology, Hockney began using his iPad to create larger landscape drawings.  Nan Brewer, The Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper, says the main reason why Hockney is set apart from other living artists is because “even in his latter part of his career, he’s still pushing himself.”

My Mother Sleeping, Los Angeles 1982
Photo-collage
Museum purchase with funds from Anthony Moravec and the IU Art Museum’s Art Acquisition Fund, 2011.58

Bruno Wollheim’s documentary David Hockney: A Bigger Picture features the artist at work over a span of three years. The IU Cinema partnered with the IU Art Museum in August by screening the documentary after a gallery talk during IU’s 113 Days of Summer.

The museum also has three other Hockney works in their collection, including Picture of a Portrait in a Silver Frame from “A Hollywood Collection”, 1965, An Etching and a Lithograph, 1972, and Henry Seated with Tulips, 1976. Appointments can be made to view these and other works in the museum’s collection by contacting Nan Brewer at nabrewer@indiana.edu, or by visiting the information desk in the Fine Arts Library (appointments should be made a week in advance). David Hockney: New Acquisitions will be on display in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World until October 21, 2012.

K.H.