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Exhibitions

Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance, 1850–1970

“Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series

Women Breaking Boundaries

Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance, 1850–1970
March 13, 2020–June 7, 2020

This dazzling presentation of exceptional silver and mixed-metal wares casts new light on the legacy of Gorham and reflects the industry, artistry, innovation, and technology of the manufactory for 120 years. Adeptly coupling art and industry, Gorham boldly rose from a small firm, established in 1831 in Providence, Rhode Island, to become the largest silver company in the world, placing uniquely American design on the international stage. Creating everything from commissioned presentation pieces to show-stoppers for the dining room, Gorham responded to the era’s desire to celebrate, feast, socialize, honor, and simply enjoy the everyday in style.

Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970, organized by the RISD Museum, was made possible by a sponsoring grant from the Henry Luce Foundation with additional support from the Zennovation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the RISD Museum Associates, Textron Inc., the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, friends and members of the Board of Governors, and a generous in-kind gift from Spencer Marks, Ltd.

This exhibition is generously supported by the John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust

“Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series
February 28–May 24, 2020.

The Cincinnati Art Museum will present “Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series, an exhibition that brings together more than 30 works from Romare Bearden’s trailblazing series for the first time since its debut nearly 40 years ago, from February 28–May 24, 2020.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of only two museums to display the exhibition, which opened at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta on September 14, 2019 and will be on view until February 2, 2020.

The pieces in Something Over Something Else appear in a chronological sequence, each accompanied by a title and short text written by Bearden for the original exhibitions of this series, which were presented in New York in 1978 and 1981. These poetic and poignant narratives, written in collaboration with his friend, the writer Albert Murray, and shown in tandem with the collages, help lead viewers through Bearden’s story as he wished to share it.

The development of the exhibition was inspired by a key acquisition by the High Museum of Art: Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Artist with Painting & Model (1981), the culminating work in the series and one of Bearden’s only known self-portraits. The Cincinnati Art Museum presents the exhibition as the owner of another collage from the series, Profile/Part I, The Twenties: Pittsburgh Memories, Mill Hand’s Lunch Bucket (1978).

Bearden began this series after the publication of a feature-length biography published about him in 1977 by Calvin Tomkins as part of The New Yorker magazine’s “Profiles” series. The piece brought national attention to Bearden, who had experienced growing acclaim in the art world since the late 1960s. To Bearden, the experience was so profound that it gave rise to this autobiographical body of work exploring the intricacies of memory and the way a life unfolds in history.

“Something Over Something Else” is sequenced in two parts. “Part I, The Twenties” plumbs memories from the artist’s youth in rural North Carolina and in industrial Pittsburgh. “Part II, The Thirties” celebrates his early adult life and artistic growth in New York City, surrounded by the vibrancy and innovation of the Harlem Renaissance. It also tells the story of a life bridging disparate experiences: rural and urban, rustic and metropolitan, North and South. Bearden interweaves his own biography with the experiences of African Americans of the time, when many were following the path of the Great Migration, enduring and driving tremendous cultural transition. The collages explore the nature of memory and the passage of time, moving beyond autobiography to explore American history, cultural identity and human experience.

“To see this stunning historic series brought together is an opportunity not to be missed,” says Julie Aronson, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Curator of American Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings. “Bearden’s work defies easy categorization—he moved gracefully between abstraction and figuration with exceptional creativity and drew upon so many different traditions. Walking through this exhibition, with its combination of poetic images and words, is like having the artist whispering in your ear. It is an extraordinarily moving experience.”

The exhibition title, “Something Over Something Else,” is a phrase Bearden used to describe his own creative process. “You put something down. Then you put something else with it, and then you see how that works, and maybe you try something else and so on, and the picture grows in that way,” said Bearden. This description of the nature of his work with collage, painting and mixed media also echoes the improvisational nature of jazz, the music that Bearden so greatly admired.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a variety of public programming starting with a lecture by exhibition curators Stephanie Heydt, the High Museum of Art’s Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art, and Robert G. O’Meally, Columbia University’s Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature, on Thursday, February 27 at 7 p.m. The museum will host an Art After Dark celebration of the exhibition on February 28, 5–9 p.m. A Staged Reading of "Joe Turner’s Come and Gone" by August Wilson in collaboration with Playhouse in the Park will take place on April 16 at 7 p.m. Additional programs will be posted on the museum’s website.

This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Andrew Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Cincinnati’s presentation is sponsored by LPK and support was provided by Eric & Jan-Michele Kearney.

“Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series will be on view in the Thomas R. Schiff Gallery (G234 and 235). One ticket for this exhibition also provides access to Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970. Tickets are free for museum members and are available for purchase for the general public at the Cincinnati Art Museum front desk and online at cincinnatiartmuseum.org/bearden.

Women Breaking Boundaries
October 11–April 12, 2020
Vance Waddell and Mayerson Galleries (Galleries 124 and 125)

Admission is free.

Explore artistic innovation and artists as change-makers in Women Breaking Boundaries at the Cincinnati Art Museum

A new special exhibition explores the role of women in art and art history at the Cincinnati Art Museum from October 11–April 12, 2020. Women Breaking Boundaries highlights artworks from the museum’s permanent collection created by female artists from the seventeenth century to today. It will encourage visitors to think critically about gender, inclusion, and diversity and how that translates to the museum’s gallery walls.

A cross-departmental selection of 38 artworks from Europe, North America and Asia will be featured, ranging from oil on canvas, metalwork, ceramic, and prints to photography and fashion. Prominent artists include Georgia O’Keeffe, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Mary Cassatt, Julia Margaret Cameron, Elizabeth Catlett, and Chiyo Mitsuhisa.

The Cincinnati Art Museum’s female founders played an essential role in the birth of this city’s vibrant arts scene. In 1877, the Women’s Art Museum Association (WAMA) was formed to promote the arts in Cincinnati, founded on the heels of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. WAMA was adamant about bringing the social and economic benefits of an art museum to Cincinnati. Enthusiasm and support for their cause was widely generated and, by 1881, the Cincinnati Museum Association was incorporated.

This connection to the museum’s founding women has long been lauded as an early success for Cincinnati women in the arts. Members of WAMA were strong female activists for the arts, founding our institution as well as others throughout the city, and funding early acquisitions by female artists. As the nation is about to celebrate 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage, Women Breaking Boundaries reminds us to reflect on this history. By examining our museum’s story and presentation practices we can revisit this narrative, encouraging visitors and museum staff alike to reflect on the past, engage with the present, and consider the future.

Ainsley M. Cameron, Curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art & Antiquities, has organized the exhibition. “Though Women Breaking Boundaries proudly recognizes the contributions of female artists to the art canon, this is not a celebration of equality,” says Cameron. “Artists who identify as female continue to be a minority within museum collections—ours, and in the art world more broadly speaking—and addressing this inequality creates space for dialogue and productive exchange.”

Pairings and juxtapositions of artworks will be created to encourage such dialogue and exchange. Barbara Kruger, a feminist artist who critically engages with the portrayal of women in the media, will be paired with a dress by early twentieth century fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet. The female form as seen in a 1970s Jo Ann Callis photograph of a woman’s body will be reflected in an art nouveau vase created by Mary Sheerer of Newcomb Pottery. While vast and vastly different, the works presented offer insights into the myriad of ways that female artists have been, and continue to be, active change-makers in their chosen medium.

Women Breaking Boundaries is conceived of as the museum’s main contribution and focal point of a larger project, Power of Her, a city-wide initiative of Cincinnati arts organizations to mark 100 years since Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment. Led by ArtsWave, Power of Her will include over a year’s worth of community programs, festivities and events at organizations including Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Cincinnati Ballet and more, from June 2019 through December 2020.

During Power of Her, a majority of the museum’s permanent gallery rotations throughout the museum will focus on female artists. Visitors are encouraged to view Women Breaking Boundaries, explore rotating galleries, as well as the Cincinnati Art Museum permanent collection galleries that feature women. A free gallery guide highlighting female artists in the collection will be available at the entrance to the museum.

Related programs will be held at the museum in conjunction with the run of the exhibition, including Family First Saturday, Gallery Experiences, gallery talks and more. For a full list of programming, please visit the museum’s online calendar.

Women Breaking Boundaries will be on view in the Vance Waddell and Mayerson Galleries (Galleries 124 and 125). Admission is free. Photography is encouraged, but no flash. On social media, use #WomenBreakingBoundaries and #PowerofHer.

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