Chrysler Museum of Art Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk, VA
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Chrysler Museum of Art
One Memorial Place
Norfolk, Virginia, 23510
(757) 664-6200


Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful
Through October 3, 2021
Special Exhibition Galleries

Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful will provide a comprehensive overview of the artist’s long life (1891–1978) with approximately 100 works, including her rarely seen theatrical designs and beloved abstract paintings. The exhibition will track Thomas’s artistic journey from semi-rural Georgia to international recognition, demonstrating how her artistic practices extended to every facet of her life—from community service and teaching to gardening and dress.

Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful will provide a comprehensive overview of the artist’s long life (1891–1978) with approximately 100 works, including her rarely seen theatrical designs and beloved abstract paintings. The exhibition will track Thomas’s artistic journey from semi-rural Georgia to international recognition, demonstrating how her artistic practices extended to every facet of her life—from community service and teaching to gardening and dress.

Unlike a traditional biography, the exhibition will be organized around multiple themes from Thomas’s experience. These themes include the context of Thomas’s Washington Color School cohort, the creative communities connected to Howard University, and peers who protested museums that failed to represent artists of color.

Co-curators Jonathan Frederick Walz, PhD, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American Art at The Columbus Museum and Seth Feman, PhD, the Chrysler’s Deputy Director for Art & Interpretation and Curator of Photography will intentionally include diverse artworks and archival materials. These elements will reveal Thomas’s complex and deliberate artistic existence before, during, and after the years of her “mature” output and career-making solo show at the Whitney Museum in 1972. She was the first African American woman to have a retrospective at the famed New York institution.

With the addition of Resurrection to the White House Collection in 2015, acquisitions by notable public institutions including Crystal Bridges Museum and MoMA, and a two-venue exhibition at the Tang Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem in 2016, the time is right to reconsider Alma Thomas’s life and legacy.

“Despite the flurry of overdue attention, the artist’s long career is still inaccurately reduced to the late paintings from the 1960s and early 1970s,” Walz and Feman said. “The Columbus Museum’s rich holdings related to Thomas – a native of Columbus – offer the opportunity to present deeper insights into Thomas’s art and an inspiring look at how to lead a creative life.”

Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful is co-organized by The Columbus Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art

The exhibition will travel to the following institutions:

The Phillips Collection, Washington, October 30, 2021–January 23, 2022
Frist Art Museum, Nashville, February 25–June 5, 2022
The Columbus Museum, Columbus, July 1, 2022–Sept 25, 2022

Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers
February 23, 2021 — May 30, 2021
Frank Photography Gallery

Though he is best known today as one of the twentieth century’s leading photographers, Edward Steichen began his artistic career as a painter.

This exhibition features his most grand and ambitious effort in that medium: In Exaltation of Flowers. This large-scale mural, which measures ten feet high and nearly forty feet wide altogether, comes to the Chrysler on loan from Art Bridges. The mural’s seven panels are paired with works from the Chrysler’s rich photography and decorative arts holdings that illuminate Steichen’s photographic career. The works also highlight the broader impact of the figures depicted in the painting, including Isadora Duncan, Mercedes de Cordoba, and Charles Lang Freer. Also included are examples from the Chrysler’s holdings of Camera Work, an influential art and photography journal published by Alfred Stieglitz.

Designed for the New York home of his friends Agnes and Eugene Meyer, Steichen created In Exaltation of Flowers with tempera and gold leaf on canvas. The shimmering mural featured an elaborate group portrait of Steichen’s and the Meyers’ friends who formed a close-knit intellectual and artistic circle while living in France. Influenced by the writings of the symbolist writer Maurice Maeterlinck, the group nurtured a deep interest in the symbolic meanings embodied in flowers.

Many varieties of flora are depicted with great flourish throughout the mural, meant to emphasize aspects of the sitters’ character and personality traits. The group consisted of fellow artists, dancers, and collectors who left a wide-ranging creative legacy reflected in the objects and photographs displayed alongside the mural in the exhibition. Together, these works shed light on an under-appreciated aspect of the career of one of America’s greatest photographers while exploring the legacy of a vibrant creative social network and the deeper symbolic meanings hidden in nature.

Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920
February 12, 2021 — May 16, 2021
Special Exhibition Galleries

Cassatt Spanish girl leaning on a window sill
Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926), Spanish Girl Leaning on a Window Sill, ca. 1872, Oil on canvas, Manuel Piñanes García-Olías, Madrid
Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920 explores a pivotal moment, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when American artists and their European counterparts flocked to Spain to capture its scenic charms and seemingly exotic customs.

Co-organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition is developed around each institution’s unique collection of American and old master paintings. The show features works by Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent, and others alongside their Spanish contemporaries and the country’s Old Masters.

Americans in Spain examines the widespread influence of Spanish art and culture on American painting. For many artists, particularly in the second half of the nineteenth century, Spain was a requisite stop on their European tour. A large number of America’s most prominent artists—many of them establishing their artistic footing—traveled to the country for training and to study its Old Masters at the Prado Museum. They, in turn, absorbed and translated into their own work Spanish subjects and styles.

While a few books and catalogues have been devoted to American artists’ experience in (and fascination with) Spain, the subject has been given far less treatment than other aspects of the grand tour. Americans in Spain is the first exhibition to present this important period of American art to a wide audience, and it will expand on previous studies by emphasizing a focused range of topics: Spain’s Islamic culture, the country’s economic and political situation and international status at the time, the impact of Spain’s painters on American artists, the Prado Museum as a center of study, and the critical and popular reception of these American painters’ Spanish works.
William Merritt Chase (American, 1849–1916), La Carmencita, 1890, Oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Sir William Van Horne, 1906

The exhibition presents more than seventy paintings alongside nineteenth-century photographs, prints, and travel guides. The works on view come from a wide range of national and international collections including the Prado Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Musée d’Orsay; Getty Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Victoria and Albert Museum; and others as well as a newly discovered painting by Mary Cassatt from a Madrid private collection never before shown in the United States.

Co-curated by Corey Piper, Brock Curator of American Art, Chrysler Museum of Art and Brandon Ruud, Abert Family Curator of American Art, Milwaukee Art Museum

Regeneration: Works from the Fall 2020 Glass Studio Assistants
Through April 1, 2021
Margaret Shepherd Ray Family and Student Gallery

The Glass Studio Assistantship is an educational opportunity designed for emerging artists pursuing a professional career working in glass. It is often a time of great change for these artists.

Embarking into uncharted territory, these eight Studio Assistants began their session in July 2020 at a time when everything in the world felt upside down. Learning and making new works during a pandemic, the artists pushed themselves technically and creatively, embodying regeneration, and renewal in unprecedented times.

Learn more about the Glass Studio Assistantship program.

Clear as Crystal: Colorless Glass from the Chrysler Museum
December 19, 2020 — July 3, 2021
Glass Project Gallery

Because glass is an artificial material, it can be made nearly any color imaginable. People have long been captivated by colorless, transparent glass despite the other color possibilities.

Clear As Crystal: Colorless Glass from the Chrysler Museum explores the allure of colorless glass by showcasing contemporary artworks and historical objects from within the Museum’s permanent collection that are made exclusively with colorless glass. The works on view reveal the wide array of techniques that artists have used to capitalize on the aesthetic and intellectual opportunities offered by clear, colorless glass.

Glass is naturally bluish-green in hue, so glassmakers have to intentionally manipulate its chemistry in order to turn it crystal clear. Glassmakers in the ancient and Islamic worlds sought to produce a glass that imitated the pure quartz mineral called rock crystal, while Venetian glassmakers of the Renaissance kept secret recipes for their famous cristallo glass. English chemists of the seventeenth century sought to produce their own perfectly clear glass, leading to the popularization of “lead crystal.” Bohemian artisans were renowned for elaborately engraved colorless glasses during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while American glass factories later produced cut and pressed glassware to reflect and refract light. Contemporary artists continue to harness the power and properties of colorless glass, using it as a means to sculpt with light and form.

The artworks on view in this exhibition demonstrate how artisans and artists across time and around the world have adapted or manipulated colorless glass. An impressive array of forming and decorating techniques have been used, including blowing, molding, casting, pressing, cutting, carving, laminating, engraving, etching, and polishing. The exhibition includes works by artists and designers like Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, Christopher Reis, Karen LaMonte, Luke Jerram, Simon Gate, Edvard Hald, and Steven Weinberg as well as significant glass manufacturers like Boston & Sandwich Glass Co., New England Glass Co., T.G. Hawkes & Co., Steuben, Libbey, Tiffany, Lalique, Gallé, Baccarat, Orrefors, and Barovier & Toso.

An accompanying exhibition brochure will explore the science of glass through an investigation of the chemical properties and physical behaviors of colorless glass.

Exhibition Information page 2


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