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The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, OH

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Second Careers: Two Tributaries in African Art
Through, 03/14/2021
Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery | Gallery 010

Second Careers explores the connections between historical African art and contemporary practices through a selection of exemplary highlights from the museum’s African collection and loaned works. CMA objects from nine cultures in Central and West Africa—male and female figures and masks, masquerade costume, a hunter’s tunic, and a prestige throne—are juxtaposed with large-scale installations, sculptures, and photographs by six leading contemporary African artists. The exhibition considers the status of canonical African art objects when they begin their “second careers” upon entering museum collections. It simultaneously examines modes of artistic production in Africa that employ mediums that once served other purposes in everyday life. Focusing more on the conceptual relationship between the two contexts of African art, the exhibition contemplates how contemporary African artists from different generations draw inspiration from and seek transformative encounters with the historical canon. These contexts provide a critical understanding of African art, past and present.

Generous support is provided by Ben and Julia Brouhard.

Gustave Baumann: Colorful Cuts
Sun, 12/20/2020 to Sun, 05/02/2021
James and Hanna Bartlett Prints and Drawings Gallery | Gallery 101

Like many Chicago artists in the first years of the 20th century, Gustave Baumann discovered the beauty of rural Brown County in Indiana. While living in Nashville from 1910 to 1916, he produced his first important set of color woodcuts. In 1917 he headed east before traveling the next year to New Mexico, where he spent the rest of his life. Exhilarated by the state’s natural beauty, he settled in Santa Fe and over the next five decades produced complex color woodcuts that captured the area’s intense sunlight and arid atmosphere. Baumann’s prints portray not only stunning mountain scenery but also indigenous adobe architecture and scenes representing Native American and Hispanic cultures. Over the years, Baumann made numerous trips around New Mexico, Arizona, and California searching for additional picturesque venues, such as at the Grand Canyon and among giant sequoias, all of which became the subjects of beautiful color woodcuts.

The exhibition also illustrates how Baumann worked. He began by making tempera drawings in front of the subject. The outlines of the main forms were transferred to woodblocks, one for each color. The museum owns a set of blocks for his print Summer Clouds (1926) and the proofs, allowing visitors to understand how he printed layers of color to achieve rich effects.

Principal support is provided by Kenneth F. and Betsy Bryan Hegyes, Leon* and Gloria Plevin and Family, and the Print Club of Cleveland. Major support is provided by the Ann Baumann Trust.

The Couple in the Cage: Guatinaui Odyssey
Through, 04/04/2021
Video Project Room | Gallery 224B

In 1992 Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña started their Guatinaui World Tour, a series of performances presenting the artists as “undiscovered Amerindians” from the mythical island Guatinau in the Gulf of Mexico. The Couple in the Cage: Guatinaui Odyssey documents their performances alongside unknowing visitors’ reactions, shedding a critical light on colonialist practices over the past 500 years and on the historic mistreatment of indigenous bodies.

Fusco and Gómez-Peña conceived the idea in response to the 1992 quincentennial of Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas. They performed in places with colonialist histories, including Australia, England, Spain, and the United States. The artists cast themselves as generic “male” and “female” types, a commentary on the stripping of individuality under colonialist rule. As they performed, the artists scrutinized audience responses, all of which is captured in this documentary video Fusco developed with artist Paula Heredia.

Interspersed with archival footage of 19th- and 20th-century practices of human exhibition, the video is meant to make viewers uncomfortable. In the wake of contemporary movements to broaden historical interpretations of the Americas, The Couple in the Cage endures as an important exploration of how colonialist ideas can continue to influence perceived assumptions about non-Western cultures.

Fashioning Identity: Mola Textiles of Panamá
Through 10/03/2021
Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Textile Gallery | Gallery 234

The mola is a key component of traditional dress among the indigenous Guna (formerly Kuna) women of Panamá. Guna women have been sewing mola blouses since the turn of the 20th century, and they have become powerful symbols of their culture and identity. During the Guna Revolution of 1925, Guna people rallied around their right to make and wear molas as a statement of their independence. They ultimately gained sovereignty over their territory, an archipelago of hundreds of small islands along Panamá’s Atlantic coast, known collectively as Guna Yala.

Molas are masterfully hand-sewn cotton panels that are made in pairs and sewn into blouses. They feature a wide array of vibrantly colored compositions, with designs ranging from geometric abstraction to imaginative scenes inspired by popular Western culture. Strong expressions of duality, repetition, and equilibrium are evident in mola imagery, both in single panels and those comprising the front and back of a blouse. Driven by precise aesthetic values and a spirited practice of artistic critique, Guna women are passionate about making ever more innovative mola designs that continue to push the boundaries of their cultural tradition.

This exhibition presents both individual mola panels and complete mola blouses from the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Denison University in Granville, Ohio. The molas on display span distinct periods of Guna history, from the era of the 1925 revolution to the 1980s.

All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Major annual support is provided by the Estate of Dolores B. Comey and Bill and Joyce Litzler, with generous annual funding from Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., Ms. Arlene Monroe Holden, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Claudia Woods and David Osage.

Bruce Davidson: Brooklyn Gang
Through 02/28/2021
Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz Photography Gallery | Gallery 230

Bruce Davidson, one of the most highly respected and influential American documentary photographers of the past half century, offered an independent look at America in the age of visual and social homogenization presented by Life and Look magazines. Davidson’s 1959 series Brooklyn Gang—his first major project—was the fruit of several months spent photographing the daily lives of the Jokers, one of the many teenage street gangs worrying New York City officials at the time. Bruce Davidson features 50 photographs from that series, which are part of a recent anonymous gift to the museum of extensive selections from the artist’s archives. Included are several sets of variant images, affording a rare glimpse into Davidson’s working process.

Davidson approached the Jokers after reading a newspaper article detailing their fight with a Puerto Rican gang. The Jokers’ home turf was a block in Park Slope, Brooklyn, now one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods but then an impoverished, mostly Irish area. While many officials and commentators at the time saw the gangs as evidence of social deterioration resulting from poverty, others regarded them as the most visible manifestations of a socially disengaged generation of males—rebels without a cause.

Davidson’s subjects were mostly Catholic school students or dropouts. “I was 26 and they were 15, but I could see my own repression in them and I began to feel a connection to their desperation. I began to feel their isolation and even my own.” Davidson’s black-and-white images reflect the teens’ alienation but also their camaraderie. He hung out with them on street corners and in the local candy store, and accompanied them to the beach at Coney Island with their girlfriends. Describing his process, the artist says, “I stay a long time. . . . I am an outsider on the inside.”

All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Major annual support is provided by the Estate of Dolores B. Comey and Bill and Joyce Litzler, with generous annual funding from Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., Ms. Arlene Monroe Holden, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, the Wom

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