UMMA: Exhibitions and events for August 2019

OPENING EXHIBITIONS
AUGUST 17, 2019–JANUARY 5, 2020
A. ALFRED TAUBMAN GALLERY I
Far from being frowned upon as uncreative, in China, Korea, and Japan, copying has long been considered a valuable practice. Through works of art spanning ancient to contemporary times, Copies and Invention in East Asia  challenges our understanding of originality, and presents copying as an act of imaginative interpretation. The exhibition includes burial goods that conjure a world for the deceased; Buddhist sculptures produced in multiples to amplify religious experience and meaning; paintings in which a master’s brushstrokes are faithfully duplicated as a way of shaping the self; and contemporary works that address multiplicity and duplication in the modern world.
Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, Center for Japanese Studies, Nam Center for Korean Studies, and College of Engineering. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.
NEW AT UMMA: WALTER OLTMANN
SEPTEMBER 21–NOVEMBER 17, 2019
THE CONNECTOR
Infant Skull II , a woven “tapestry” made out of very fine aluminum wire, only reveals its shape when seen from afar. Drawing inspiration from his country’s basketry traditions, the South African artist Walter Oltmann (b. 1960) alternates densely layered sections with open spaces, allowing the underlying surface of the work to show through. The skull that emerges is, in a South African context, evocative of the Cradle of Humankind—a series of caves outside Johannesburg, where some of the oldest hominin fossils in the world have been found.

The work complements UMMA’s renowned and growing collection of historical and contemporary African art and reminds us of the central role of Africa in the history of humankind. The purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of UMMA Director’s Acquisition Committee.

CONTINUING EXHIBITIONS

 

THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
MEDIA GALLERY
Jason DeMarte: Garden of Artificial Delights  presents an enigmatic world filled with unexpected and unsettling sensory temptations. In this immersive installation of photographs and wallpaper, Michigan-based photographer Jason DeMarte weaves together detailed images of fauna (birds, caterpillars, and moths) and flora (local plants and flowers). Each scene is set against ominous cloudy skies, which rain melted ice cream, whipped topping, candies, and glossy paint. Overburdened with decorations, the flowers and plants begin to decay, leaving the birds and insects unable to survive for long in this overly sweet environment. DeMarte’s illusionistic landscapes recall the long tradition of still life painting in Europe and America, and a rich history of fantasy environments represented in literature and film—from Alice’s Wonderland to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Yet, his images decidedly foreground the complicated visual circumstances of our contemporary moment and provoke us to consider this imagined and oversaturated world as analogous to our own.
THROUGH SEPTEMBER 15, 2019
THE CONNECTOR
Egon Schiele (1890-1918), one of the most well-known and controversial figures of Austrian Expressionism, made more than 3,000 works over the span of his short life and career. Working at the turn of the twentieth century, Schiele challenged the classical conventions of the day producing emotionally charged—often unsettling—drawings and watercolors depicting landscapes, portraits, and nudes. Two retired U-M professors recently gifted four works of art by Schiele to UMMA. Throughout their lifetimes, Frances McSparran (English language and literature) and the late Ernst Pulgram (Romance and classical linguistics) collected over forty Austrian and German Expressionist works, donating many of them to the Museum. The three watercolors and one drawing on view in this special installation complement the couple’s previous gifts of works by Schiele and his contemporaries Oskar Kokoschka, George Grosz, and Gustav Klimt, reuniting these important works that together provide important insights into this tumultuous period in European history.
THROUGH SEPTEMBER 22, 2019
IRVING STENN, JR. FAMILY GALLERY
Visitors entering Floyer’s installation  Things  (2009) in the Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery encounter a collection of identical plinths that would ordinarily be used to display art objects in the Museum, but these platforms are empty. In place of visible objects, each plinth is equipped with a speaker from which we hear the word “thing” sung—edited out of and isolated from a range of pop songs. The result is an amusing and thoughtful exploration of language, meaning, and the conventions of museum presentation and spectatorship.
The installation, like much of Berlin-based artist Ceal Floyer’s art, is characteristically austere, but its visual simplicity masks a more complicated message—often a wry cerebral twist the artist creates through language-based symbols and aesthetic devices. Floyer’s work is rooted in conceptual art, in which the idea, delivered through words or acts that undercut or supersede formal qualities, is the essence of the artwork.
Lead support is provided by the University of Michigan College of Engineering and the Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, Institute for the Humanities, CEW+ Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund, and School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
THROUGH OCTOBER 27, 2019
SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS GALLERY
Two fascinating stories converge in one very special exhibition: One tracks the development and subsequent worldwide acclaim of contemporary Inuit art from the Canadian Arctic. The other traces the Power family’s seminal role in supporting Inuit art and introducing it to a U.S. audience. Seventy years ago, neither the Inuit artists nor the Power family could have foreseen the tremendous popularity that this work would come to enjoy. Taking its title from the Inuktitut word for “unexpected,” this stirring exhibition showcases 58 works from the collection of Philip and Kathy Power, most from the very early contemporary period of the 1950s and 60s. Included are exquisite sculptures of ivory, bone, and stone, as well as stonecut and stencil prints, some from the first annual Inuit print collection in 1959. Among the renowned Inuit artists featured in this historic survey are Kanaginak Pootoogook, Kenojuak Ashevak, Lucy Qinnuayuak, Niviaksiak, Osuitok Ipeelee and Johnny Inukpuk.
The exhibition also serves as a promising launch pad for future groundbreaking research, exhibitions, and programming related to Inuit art and culture at the University of Michigan, thanks to the generosity of the Power family.
This exhibition inaugurates the Power Family Program for Inuit Art, established in 2018 through the generosity of Philip and Kathy Power.
THROUGH FALL 2020
A. ALFRED TAUBMAN GALLERY II
In the midst of the political and cultural upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s, artists, critics, and the public grappled with the relationship between art, politics, race, and feminism. During these decades, the notion that abstraction was a purely formal and American art form, concerned only with timeless themes disconnected from the present, was met with increased skepticism. Women artists and artists of color began to actively and assertively explore abstraction’s possibilities. The artworks in  Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s   demonstrate both radical and disarming changes in how artists worked and what they thought their art was about. Their new formal and intellectual strategies—seen here across large-scale and miniature work—dramatically transformed the practice of abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s in a politically shifting American landscape.
UMMA gratefully acknowledges the following donors for their generous support:
Lead Exhibition Sponsors: University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Exhibition Endowment Donors: Richard and Rosann Noel Endowment Fund, Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment, and Robert and Janet Miller Fund
University of Michigan Funding Partners: Institute for Research on Women and Gender, School of Social Work, Department of Political Science, and Department of Women’s Studies
ONGOING
MUSEUM APSE
Collection Ensemble presents the first major reinstallation of UMMA’s iconic entry space in over a decade. It exchanges Alumni Memorial Hall’s previous focus on European and American painting for a broad mix of American, European, African, and Asian art from across media sampling the Museum’s remarkable, disparate holdings. The installation is organized into thematic and formal vignettes that respond to the concepts and ideas resonating from an extraordinary large-scale photograph of a vacant cathedral by contemporary German artist Candida Höfer. Featuring works of art by forty-one famous and not-so-famous artists, many of them artists of color and women—including Charles Alston, Khaled al-Saa’i, Norio Azuma, Christo, Theaster Gates, Jenny Holzer, Roni Horn, Dinh Q. Lê, Kara Walker, and others, Collection Ensemble reimagines the collection not as a fixed entity with one set of meanings to be unearthed, but instead as an active, creative, sometimes startling source of material and ideas, open for debate and interpretation.

GUIDED EXHIBITIONS AND GALLERY TOURS

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 4
2–3 p.m.
MEET AT UMMA STORE
In the midst of the political and cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s, artists, critics, and the public grappled with the relationship between art, politics, race, and feminism. During these decades, the notion that abstraction was a purely formal and American art form, concerned only with timeless themes disconnected from the present, was met with increased skepticism. Women artists and artists of color began to actively and assertively explore abstraction’s possibilities. The artworks in Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s d emonstrate both radical and disarming changes in how artists worked and what they thought their art was about. Their new formal and intellectual strategies—seen here across large-scale and miniature work—dramatically transformed the practice of abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s in a politically shifting American landscape.
UMMA gratefully acknowledges the following donors for their generous support:
Lead Exhibition Sponsors: University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Exhibition Endowment Donors: Richard and Rosann Noel Endowment Fund, Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment, and Robert and Janet Miller Fund
University of Michigan Funding Partners: Institute for Research on Women and Gender, School of Social Work, Department of Political Science, and Department of Women’s Studies
SUNDAY, AUGUST 11
2–3 p.m.
MEET AT UMMA STORE
In celebration of UMMA’s new Power Family Program for Inuit Art, the Museum presents a special exhibition of two incredible, intertwining stories. One traces the development of contemporary Inuit art in the Canadian Arctic from the 1950s to the present. The other relates the fascinating story of the Power family’s important role in supporting and promoting Inuit art from the outset, bringing public attention to its artistic strength and cultural importance. The Power family’s collection is unusual in its strong representation of early contemporary carvings, incised drawings on ivory and antler, soapstone sculptures, and prints that evolved as Inuit artists developed their own artistic voices and responded creatively to their changing world.
This exhibition inaugurates the Power Family Program for Inuit Art, established in 2018 through the generosity of Philip and Kathy Power.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 18
2–3 p.m.
MEET AT UMMA STORE
Christian Boltanski was born in Paris in the wake of its liberation from Fascist control. Perhaps as a result of his childhood experiences, he has explored themes of memory, death, and mourning in a variety of media—film, paint, photography, and found objects. His evocative, often ephemeral installations archive and memorialize anonymous individual loss. Monument to the Lycée Chasesis part of a series of works Boltanski began in 1987, inspired by a found photograph of the 1931 graduating class from a private Jewish high school in Vienna, Austria. His re-photographed images are mere silhouettes or intimations of corporal presences that together comprise a moving meditation on loss and endurance.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25
2–3 p.m.
MEET AT UMMA STORE
The reinstallation of UMMA’s Apse, Collection Ensemble , highlights the breadth and variety of the Museum’s collection and juxtaposes works of art from different artists, periods, areas, and media. The installation is organized around a very large photograph of a Baroque church by Candida Höfer. From this centerpiece, the works of art are grouped in scenes or distinctive vignettes comprised of a broad mix of American, European, African, and Asian art from across media. The reinstallation doesn’t adhere to either chronological or geographic boundaries. Vera Grant, UMMA’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and curator of this installation, says: “The exhibition recasts the role of the collection as an active, creative, sometimes startling source of material and ideas, open for debate and interpretation. The arrangements remind us that works of art can change in meaning and affect when placed in new contexts.” Join an UMMA docent to explore and interpret this exciting new project.
UMMA PROGRAMS
SUNDAY, AUGUST 4
3–4 p.m.
MEET AT UMMA STORE
To register for this program, email aelliston@alz.org or call the local Alzheimer’s Association 800-272-3900 x 8585 at any time. For more information, please contact UMMA at 734.764.1917 during normal business hours.
Meet Me at UMMA invites people with mild memory loss to enjoy a guided gallery experience along with family members or care partners. This program is designed for people who live at home and their companions.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing mild memory loss, research has shown that the visual and expressive arts can be good for your mind. In addition, great enjoyment is to be found in seeking out the sights, sounds, textures, and good feelings that come with looking at, learning, and sharing feelings about paintings, music, and other creative arts.
UMMA’s trained docents will accompany small groups for a guided tour and provide the opportunity for everyone to experience different kinds of art and share their responses.
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