Month: October, 2013

Zombies Take Over the Museums!

Mrs. T

Late one night, in the basement of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the security guard on duty fell asleep. When he heard the sound of someone tapping on the window, the guard awoke to find an old woman in a tattered white wedding dress peering at him from behind the glass. She was the spitting image of Mrs. T, from George Bellows’s 1920 portrait Mrs. T. in Cream Silk, No. 2.

As if by magic, the woman floated through the control room door and then vanished into thin air. And as the story goes, the guard never worked the night shift again.

For the past several years, the museum has been collecting ghost stories like this one from staff and visitors and compiled the tales into a new audio tour. The tour, which is available both at the museum and online, is one of many Halloween and Día de los Muertos–inspired activities being offered by museums this fall. Read the full article on!


The Frick’s High-Tech, Old Master Remix


Yesterday, an immaculate replica of Ambrosius Bosschaert’s Vase with Flowers in a Window (ca. 1618) appeared to come alive at the Frick Collection. Like a talking painting from Harry Potter, the flowers swayed with the wind and the daylight in the background grew brighter as time passed. Morning dew on the flowers evaporated. The water level in the vase slowly diminished. A snail in the lower-right corner of the composition emerged from his shell and leisurely inched his way out of the frame.

The work, titled Transforming Still Life Painting (2012), is a looping, 3-hour animated film by British artist-duo Rob and Nick Carter. The first digital artwork to ever be shown at the Frick, Transforming Still Life Painting simulates the effects that 24 hours of real-life elements—water, sunlight, wind—would have had on Bosschaert’s flowers. The film depicts the scene through a modern lens, just as Bosschaert’s original materials reflected his own time. “Computer-generated imagery is our form of reality,” says Nick. “This is what we see everyday.”

The piece is being presented in conjunction with the Frick’s new exhibition “Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis.” The show opens today and features a selection of paintings on loan from the Mauritshuis museum in the Hague, which is temporarily closed for renovations. The loan includes such treasured Golden-Age artworks as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665) and The Goldfinch (1654) by Carel Fabritius. Read the full article on!

Finding Soul in High Heel Shoes

A massive bronze sculpture by Willie Cole depicts an abstracted seated figure, meditatively resting its head in its hands. At first glance, the piece, titled The Sole Sitter, appears to be made up of a series of geomorphic shapes. After a closer look, it becomes evident that the shapes are actually larger-than-life shoes. A pair of clogs forms the knees and thighs. Mary Janes represent the feet. A cluster of high heels serves as the head.

Since the 1980s, the New Jersey–born, African American artist has been assembling like objects to form works that communicate potent messages about African history and the slave trade, among other themes. Cole’s ironing board woodcuts, shoe and hair-dryer masks, and bicycle-inspired headdresses reclaim African artistic traditions in ways that are both visceral and unexpected.

The Sole Sitter, one of Cole’s most recent works, is based on principles of the West African religion Yoruba, in which specific deities are believed to lead worshipers to the gods. The Sitter is waiting and hoping for a deity to come. Cole constructed this work along with eight other paintings and sculptures for his upcoming solo exhibition “If wishes were horses….” Read the full story on

Noguchi’s Missing Link

In an elegant and gestural ink-on-paper drawing by Isamu Noguchi, a statuesque, standing nude holds her baby in her arms. The two are interlocked so intimately that the child looks as though it’s a part of the mother, joined to her the way a blossom is affixed to a tree branch. Titled Mother and Child, the piece is one of more than 100 drawings and scrolls the artist created while on a 1930 visit to Beijing.

During that six-month trip, the Japanese-born artist was introduced to famed Chinese poet, seal carver, and ink painter Qi Baishi. Noguchi, then only 26 years old, observed the older master in his studio and became inspired by his heavy brushstrokes and use of simplified, biomorphic forms. Noguchi merged Qi’s ink-wash techniques with his own skills as a figure painter. The resulting collection of drawings is known as the “Peking Scrolls.”

For many years, the series was thought of as a peculiarity in the artist’s output. But an exhibition at the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York, sheds new light on the drawings and their significance on Noguchi’s later abstract sculptures. Titled “Isamu Noguchi / Qi Baishi / Beijing 1930,” the show presents, for the first time, a collection of “Peking Scrolls” alongside works by Qi Baishi, as well as several drawings, sculptures, and photographs. Together, these objects demonstrate the evolution of Noguchi’s artistic style. See the full story on!

Brancusi & Brain Waves: 3-D Printing Goes to the Museum

Out of Hand
“How comfortable is the term ‘comfort’?” asks Ron Labaco, a curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. His question is in reference to the 2010 creation Brain Wave Sofa by Lucas Maassen and Dries Verbruggen from the Belgian design team Unfold. For the piece, Maassen used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor his brain waves while he closed his eyes and thought of the word “comfort.” Software translated the data into a three-dimensional image, and the designers programmed a computerized milling machine, called a CNC mill, to carve a foam replica of that image to use as the foundation for the couch.

Brain Wave Sofa is one of more than 100 pieces featured in “Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital.” Opening at MAD on October 16, the exhibition showcases works of art, fashion, furniture, and architecture that have been constructed with 3-D printing and CNC milling devices. Read more on!

That’s So Raven: Artistic Visions of Poe

In a chilling blue-and-gray watercolor by Edmund Dulac, the ominous journey described in Edgar Allan Poe’s 1844 poem Dreamland takes form. The painting features an enormous phantom with a vacant stare and stoic expression sitting on a throne. Eye-level with the clouds, the spirit appears to preside over the dark, mountainous land beneath him.

This striking image was originally printed in a 1912 anthology of Poe’s poems and is one of more than 100 pieces featured in a new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum. Titled “Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul,” the show opens October 4 and presents works ranging from drawings and portraits to original manuscripts and letters—it even includes a piece of Poe’s coffin. The objects come from three of the most prominent Poe collections in the United States—the Morgan Library, the New York Public Library, and the private holdings of collector Susan Jaffe Tane. Read more on!

Anonymous No More: Bringing Contemporary Tibetan Art to the U.S.

“There are currently six million Tibetans still in Tibet,” says curator Rachel Perera Weingeist. “And we never get to hear from them—except through their art.”

Tibet, which has been occupied by China since 1951, is largely closed off from the Western world. Travel outside of the country is restricted and there are staunch limitations on its exports. To help make Tibetan art more accessible to American audiences, Weingeist conceived the show “Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art.” She invited Tibetan artists living all over the world to submit their work anonyously for the exhibition, believing that this option would allow artists to “express themselves without any repercussions.” Read more on!

Paint the Town, Red

Red Grooms
“If you ever saw Francis Bacon’s studio, it was a world-class disaster,” says Red Grooms. “It was quite a mess.” To accurately depict that disorder in his sculptural Portrait of Francis Bacon (1990), Grooms collected a miscellany of used art supplies and other well-worn objects from his own studio and included them in the piece, portraying Bacon—legs crossed, hands clasped—right in the middle of the clutter. This diorama is as playful and narrative as a pop-up book, and it’s one of eight such works included in the show “Red Grooms’ New York City” at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan through January 5. Read more on!