New Orleans Museum of Art New Orleans Museum of Art
New Orleans, LA
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New Orleans Museum of Art
1 Collins Diboll Circle
City Park
New Orleans, LA 70124
Atomic Number Thirteen: Aluminum in 20th-Century Design
Through April 17th, 2022

When chemists first successfully extracted aluminum from the earth in the mid-19th century, the raw element was as precious as gold. Today we take this ubiquitous material for granted, though aluminum allows for nearly every facet of modern life through its use in architecture, industry, and flight. This exhibition, drawn from NOMA’s permanent collection, explores the changing role of aluminum in twentieth-century design.

NEW at NOMA: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Art
Through June 26th, 2022

NEW at NOMA: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Art spotlights contemporary art recently purchased or gifted to the museum, focusing on works by BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and female-identifying artists. The second in a series of exhibitions that began in 2017, NEW at NOMA reflects the museum’s ongoing commitment to make the art on its walls more reflective of the community that it serves. The installation, which will rotate over time, features work by local, national, and international artists, and champions the work of emerging and underrepresented voices, including those within New Orleans.

In 2020, NOMA dedicated its available acquisition funds to purchasing works by BIPOC artists; more than half of the 20 works acquired are by artists from or working in New Orleans. As NOMA strives to become even more equitable and inclusive, the museum’s commitment to addressing exclusions in the past by collecting through new acquisitions will continue through 2021 and beyond.

A Brief History of Photography and Transmission
Through January 2nd, 2022

Photography, the youngest of all picture-making media, was introduced not quite two centuries ago with the invention of the daguerreotype, a unique image on a metal plate that could only be viewed in person, and by one person at a time. While it may seem that the story of photography traces an inevitable arc from a unique material experience toward an infinitely reproducible phenomenon, it could be argued that one of the most important “histories” of photography is the history of deliberate efforts to improve how a photograph gets from “here” to “there.” While the stresses and realities of the present moment make the topic more relevant than ever, the portability of a photographic object or the transmission of its image has occupied the thoughts of photographic inventors, artists, and publishers throughout the past two hundred years.

The use of photography and video technology as tools of communication was perhaps more important over the past year than ever before. Image distribution technologies are now so ubiquitous and simple that even when forced to be physically distant, photographs of our lives could be transmitted globally and almost instantaneously, enabling us to share everything from the personal to the political. It was not so long ago, however, that this kind of technology was unfathomable. Drawn almost exclusively from the permanent collection, this exhibition highlights some of the many ways that photographs have been made public, reproduced, and shared. It will explore the channels through which photographs have been distributed and received, while also acknowledging the limitations of those channels. The exhibition invites you to consider how photography is transmitted, what it transmits, and who benefits from its transmission.

A Brief History of Photography and Transmission is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and is sponsored by the Del and Ginger Hall Photography Fund. Additional support is provided by the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Endowment and Delta Airlines.

Ishimoto Yasuhiro: Centennial Selections
Through February 6th, 2022

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ishimoto Yasuhiro (Japanese, born United States, 1921–2012), NOMA presents a selection of works from its collection that reveals the artist’s capacity for capturing humanity with both empathy and detachment, as well as his playful sense of humor and skill as a picture-maker.

Born in San Francisco, Ishimoto spent his childhood in Japan before returning to the US in 1939 as a student. In 1942, the United States imprisoned Ishimoto at the Grenada Relocation Center in Colorado, one of ten such sites where the government incarcerated about 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II. There, Ishimoto began using a camera for the first time. After the war, Ishimoto studied at the Institute of Design in Chicago, also known as The New Bauhaus, from 1948 to 1952. Despite his love for Chicago, Ishimoto often felt like an outsider in the country of his birth because of his racial identity; he emigrated permanently to Tokyo in 1961 and became a Japanese citizen soon thereafter.

Ishimoto favored street photography, where he focused on how people lived and moved in their environment. He created these photographs in Chicago during two periods: the first while he was still a student and the second, almost a decade later. The images feature a range of human activity: shoppers running errands, children costuming for Halloween, people working on the sidewalk, walkers resting in the park. Ishimoto’s photographs depict a buzzing city, but with a remarkable sense of quietude. From different distances and levels of personal contact, Ishimoto found unguarded moments to create photographs that, although made in public, could be surprisingly intimate.

Marta Rodriguez Maleck: Morir es Vivir
Through October 3rd, 2021

What must die and what should be reborn, reimagined, or resolved to go on living?

Morir es Vivir (To Die is to Live) is a sound and light installation that weaves together voices from across the New Orleans community.

The audio collage, presented in NOMA’s Great Hall, is the result of a series of conversations in which New Orleans-based artist Marta Rodriguez Maleck held space for people who wanted to express their grief and loss, contemplate mortality and rebirth, and explore the potential for healing and hope.

These conversations took place in the museum’s galleries and at several sites across New Orleans, in partnership with Jane’s Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, a housing rights organization committed to creating sustainable, democratic, and economically just neighborhoods, and L.U.N.A. (Latinos Unidos de Nueva Orleans en Acción), a grassroots multi-racial youth coalition that builds the power and participation of young people between the ages of 16 and 24.

Seeking to offer a space for shared reflection, Morir es Vivir explores cycles of living and dying as they relate to systems, beliefs, institutions, and relationships, encouraging us all to contemplate how we want to move into the future.

Morir es Vivir is collaboratively curated by NOMA’s Curatorial and Learning & Engagement Departments, through a Connector Residency Project as part of NOMA’s Creative Assembly Program.

NOMA’s Creative Assembly Community Engagement Initiative is supported by the Wagner Foundation. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Arte Sacre: Roman Catholic Art from Portuguese India
Through May 15, 2022

In the centuries following the arrival of Francis Xavier, a Catholic missionary, in 1542, the state of Goa in western India became the administrative and economic center of a Portuguese empire that extended west to Africa and east to Malaysia, China, and Japan. The vast trade networks established by the Portuguese and Spanish allowed not only for the spread of Christianity, but also an unprecedented artistic exchange within these colonial empires. Works of art and valuable materials traveled between Spain, Portugal, and their colonies, leading to the development of new visual traditions informed by European imagery and local idioms.

European missionaries brought with them paintings, sculpture, and devotional objects for use in their evangelization efforts. Sculptures of saints and apostles, the Virgin Mary, Christ, and angels, made of wood and ivory, such as those seen in Arte Sacra, were created by Goan artists from Hindu and convert families. Initially based upon European prototypes, over time many works came to marry Christian imagery and symbols with local traditions. These works not only graced the interiors of European-style churches in Goa, but were also exported to Europe for use in religious establishments and for private devotion.

This exhibition, from the collection of Dr. Siddharth Bhansali, a New Orleans-based physician, reveals both the global influence of European seventeenth and eighteenth century styles, as well as the transformation of these styles in the hands of local artists creating a new visual tradition.

The Pursuit of Salvation: Jain Art from India
Through June 7th, 2020

The Jain faith has been continuously practiced in India since at least the sixth century BCE. Nonviolence, a respect for all living beings, and the belief in the existence of a permanent soul whose true nature is obscured by accumulated karma are core principles of Jainism. As in Buddhism, the goal of Jain practice is to end the cycles of rebirth (samsara) and attain liberation from all suffering. This is accomplished through rigorous devotion to ascetic practices and the elimination of human passions and attachments.

Jains pay homage to the founders of their faith, the twenty-four Jinas (conquerers) the last of whom was Mahavira (c. 599–527 BCE). Over time, there came to be two primary sects in Jainism: the Shvetambaras, whose monks wear white robes, and the Digambaras, whose monks reject all possessions, including clothing. Artists clearly identify the figure’s affiliation, and represent the Jinas in one of only two positions: seated in meditation, or standing in the kayotsarga (body abandonment) pose. The latter is a visualization of the Jina’s liberation from human attachments and emotion.

Created over a period of more than fifteen hundred years — the second through nineteenth centuries — the sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts on view in this exhibition of works loaned from the collection of Dr. Siddharth Bhansali illuminate iconographic and stylistic change as well as regional variation.

Ancestors in Stone
Through December 31, 2021

Among African cultures, deceased ancestors remain important members of the community who are revered in the afterlife. They are venerated by surviving family and community members who ask for divine intercession from their forebears in matters related to wealth, fertility, and agricultural prosperity.

Visual representation of ancestors is mostly done with ephemeral and perishable materials such as wood, mud, or plant and animal matter, based upon the idea of the impermanence of ancestral presence in the realm of the living. Ancestral intervention is meant to last for short periods of time, only to be called upon again at a later time when their help is needed. After the completion of veneration rituals, such objects lose their ritual power and left to wither. However, this idea is upturned when ancestral figures are rendered in stone.

This exhibition focuses on NOMA’s recently acquired akwanshi stone monolith from the Cross River region of Nigeria, supported with figures and objects rendered in part or whole in stone from other regions of West Africa. The show speaks to the significance of stone as both a natural element and a significant material in the veneration of ancestors. Although carved stones represent ancestors, uncarved stones may also represent ancestors. Such characteristics suggest the importance of stone to this and other African cultures.

Orientalism: Taking and Making
Through January 2, 2022

“Orientalism” describes the widespread popularity of European and American artists taking inspiration from art and people–both real and imagined–of Middle Eastern, North African, and East Asian cultures. A new installation drawn from NOMA’s permanent collection celebrates the beauty of 19th-century Orientalist artwork, but it also highlights undercurrents of oppression, racism, and superficial cultural understanding layered in these paintings, photographs, and decorative arts.

Until the 1800s, European contact with Eastern cultures was through limited trade and occasional military conflict. This changed rapidly in the 19th century, when worldwide transportation increased, Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army occupied Egypt, American Commodore Perry forced an end to Japan’s isolationism, and the British Empire controlled 400 million people worldwide. Western fashions like “Egyptomania,” “Orientalism,” and “Japonisme” are partly rooted in imperial practice.

On view in NOMA’s Hyams Gallery, Antoin-Jean Gros’ study sketch for The Pest House at Jaffa shows Napoleon Bonaparte visiting plague-stricken French soldiers in Syria. Gros’ sketch shows Syria’s Islamic architecture, but it was also propaganda in favor of French imperialism. Napoleon is depicted as a brave leader impervious to disease. Objects like NOMA’s Hunzinger side chair are part of the 1870s mania for the Japanese aesthetic in American interiors. In a choice that was more about fashion than cultural understanding, Western furniture was “ebonized” black to imitate fine Asian lacquer furniture.

This installation includes spectacular scenes of snake charmers and Bedouin horsemen by Jean-Léon Gérôme and Adolf Schreyer. These artists worked with good intentions, traveling with a genuine desire to accurately record and faithfully disseminate architecture, geography, fashion, and customs. But what they recorded was often seen through a lens conditioned by Western values and ambitions. As a result, their work often presented non-Westerners in negative ways—as lazy, barbaric, or hyper-sexualized.

Much Orientalist artwork was insensitive and factually incorrect, but its romanticism was powerful and effective in the West because it was both titillating and aesthetically alluring. Academically, this material on view gives us complicated and conflicted material to consider our own history, but also how “exoticism” continues to color the ways in which we view other cultures today.

Rural Occupations: Images of Work in Edo-Period Art
Through November 28th, 2021

Lively and engaging images of urban and rural workers populate the works of art created during the Edo (1615-1868) and Meiji periods (1868-1912) on view here. In idealized scenes created to confirm governmental authority and societal stability, as well as in closely observed records of individuals undertaking specific tasks, the lives and labors of workers in pre-modern Japan are the focus of the artists’ attention.

The military rulers of the Edo era, known as shoguns, established a Confucian-based societal hierarchy that governed nearly all aspects of life. This rigid system was based on perceived “moral” contributions to society: the warrior class, which included the shoguns, samurai, and provincial rulers (daimyo) provided leadership and ensured stability; farmers produced the food that nourished the population; artisans created useful goods; and merchants ensured the transfer of those goods and other resources. One of the most important of those was rice. In addition to being a dietary staple, rice also served as the foundation of the Japanese economy: Daimyo measured their wealth by it, samurai stipends were calculated by it, and peasants and agricultural laborers were required to pay their taxes with it.

This emphasis on specific roles of people within society stimulated the creation of art on the theme of the worker and, by extension, the products of their labor. The works on view in this gallery served as symbols of a stable and prosperous society at the time of their creation, and now provide present-day viewers a glimpse—however idealized—into the realm of urban and rural work during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries in Japan.

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