In response to COVID-19, the Flint Institute of Arts is closed through May 10

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Takeshi Murata, American, b. 1974. Untitled (Pink Dot), 2012. Color, sound. Duration: 4 minutes 25 seconds. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

Untitled (Pink Dot)

April 1, 2020 - April 30, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

In Untitled (Pink Dot), Takeshi Murata transforms footage from the 1982 Sylvester Stallone film Rambo: First Blood into a swamp of seething electronic abstraction. Subjected to Murata’s meticulous digital reprocessing, the action scenes decompose and are subsumed into an almost palpable, cascading digital sludge, presided over by a hypnotically pulsating pink dot. Murata produces digital works that refigure the experience of animation. Whether altering appropriated footage from cinema, or creating fields of seething color, he produces astonishing visions that appear at once organic and digital.

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Jan Matulka, American, born Czechoslovakia, 1890–1972. Untitled Study, 1940–1950. Watercolor/ink and red pencil on paper. 11 x 8 1/2 inches. Courtesy of McCormick Gallery, Chicago and the Estate of Jan Matulka

Jan Matulka: The Unknown Modernist

March 28, 2020 - May 24, 2020

Dow Gallery

Jan Matulka (1890—1972) was a skilled artist and influential modernist, yet most people don’t know his name as well as they do other artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, or Arshile Gorky. Despite his presence and participation in some of the most impactful moments in the development of modern art, Matulka has been pushed to the periphery of art history. This exhibition reevaluates his position in the development of modern American art through sixteen works by the artist and his contemporaries, including Max Weber, George L.K. Morris, Fannie Hillsmith, and Gerome Kamrowski.

The early 20th century in the United States was a crucial period in which the germination of ideas and styles led to the creation of a new, modern American aesthetic. As early as the mid-19th century, artists in Europe began to rebel against the expectations of what art should be. By the end of World War I (1918) European artists, especially in Paris, were fully embracing the avant-garde—a French term meaning “advance guard” and used to describe art that was innovative and experimental. Born in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), Matulka divided his time between two cities: Paris and New York. In Paris he immersed himself in the arts, returning to New York City with the avant-garde concepts he learned. Matulka became an instructor at the Art Students League of New York, where he laid the foundation for the first generation of modern American artists by introducing his students to the experiences he had cultivated abroad.

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Viola Frey, American, 1933-2004. The Decline and Fall of Western Civilizations, 1992. Ceramic and glazes. 95 x 202 x 66 inches. Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland, CA. 2019 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York.

Monumental: The Art of Viola Frey

March 14, 2020 - June 14, 2020

Harris - Burger Gallery

Over the course of her 50-year career, Viola Frey (1933–2004) produced an impressive body of artwork, including sculpture, paintings, and drawings, but she is best known for her brilliantly colored, monumental ceramic figures. Frey belonged to a generation of California artists who pushed the boundaries of clay as a craft to produce sculptural artworks, which elevated ceramics as a medium for fine art as we know it today. 

Frey’s multi-faceted approach and training as a painter and sculptor taught her to experiment using contemporary materials, art historical and pop culture references, and personal iconography, which she gathered from her surroundings. These deep sources of imagery allowed Frey to reflect on culture, power, gender dynamics, and in one particular series, the broad topic of Western Civilization.

Monumental: The Art of Viola Frey features artwork from her Western Civilization series, which Frey explored within the last 15 years of her life. The exhibition presents of a variety of media highlighting her interest not only in clay, but also painting and drawing. Widely considered Frey’s masterpiece, The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, which measures nearly 17 feet long and 9 feet high, will be on view for the first time outside of the Western United States.

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Whitfield Lovell, American, born 1959. Epoch, 2001. Charcoal on wood and found objects. 77 1/2 x 55 x 17 1/2 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Richards, by exchange, 2002.13


January 26, 2020 - April 19, 2020

Hodge Gallery Henry Gallery

Community highlights some of the most important African American artists in the FIA’s collection. Through paintings, sculpture, drawings, and photographs, this exhibition shows the diversity as well as the commonalities of African American art, encompassing thematic areas of people, place, and perspective. From portraits of well-known subjects such as Rosa Parks and Claressa Shields to less familiar individuals, these works reflect community. Place is portrayed through real locations and those imagined that nonetheless invite reflection. Lastly, perspective is offered through various lenses from realism to abstraction. 

Community Choice

Unique to this exhibition, visitors were able to vote for one of three works on loan by artists not currently in the collection. Voting took place through March 8, 2020. Using funds raised by the Community Gala, the work with the largest number of votes will be purchased by the museum. The work chosen by the community was Stephen Towns's The Gift of Lineage #5.

The voting process and subsequent purchase reinforce the notion that the objects in the FIA’s collection belong to the public while emphasizing the collection’s capacity for change and future growth.

Works on Loan for Community Choice
The Gift of Lineage #5, 2018. Stephen Towns, American, b. 1980. Acrylic, Bristol board, metal leaf, natural and synthetic fabric, polyester and cotton thread on wood panel, 36 x 24 inches. On loan from De Buck Gallery, New York.
The Gift of Lineage #5
, 2018. Stephen Towns, American, b. 1980. Acrylic, Bristol board, metal leaf, natural and synthetic fabric, polyester and cotton thread on wood panel, 36 x 24 inches. On loan from De Buck Gallery, New York.

Stephen Towns is an American painter working primarily in oil, acrylic, and fibers. His work explores how American history influences contemporary society. Born in Lincolnville, South Carolina, in 1980, he received his BFA from the University of South Carolina. He lives and works in Baltimore. He has been exhibited locally and nationally and his work is in private and public collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City.

Le Damn Revisited," 2018. Mequitta Ahuja, American, b. 1976. Oil on canvas, 84 x 72 inches. On loan from artist.
Le Damn Revisited, 2018. Mequitta Ahuja, American, b. 1976. Oil on canvas, 84 x 72 inches. On loan from artist.

Mequitta Ahuja is a contemporary American feminist painter of African American and South Asian descent who lives in Baltimore. She creates works of self-portraiture that combine themes of myth and art history with personal identity. To create her paintings, she relies on a three-step process that involves performance, photography, and drawing/painting. Born 1976 in Grand Rapids, MI, she grew up in Connecticut. She received her BA at Hampshire College and her MFA at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was mentored by contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall.
Aina, 2016. Ayana V. Jackson, American, b. 1977. Archival pigment print on German etching paper, 51 x 30 inches. On loan from David Klein Gallery, Birmingham.
, 2016. Ayana V. Jackson, American, b. 1977. Archival pigment print on German etching paper, 51 x 30 inches. On loan from David Klein Gallery, Birmingham.

Ayana Jackson is an internationally recognized American photographer who is based in the cities of New York, Paris, and Johannesburg. Her work examines the history of black bodies as represented in art and media with a focus on those of black women.Born in 1977 in Livingston, New Jersey, she received her BA in Sociology from Spelman College, also studied at the University of Arts Berlin.

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Winfred Rembert, American, b. 1945, Miss Prather’s Class, 2014. Woodcut and silkscreen. 16 x 20 inches. The Anthony and Davida Artis Collection of African-American Fine Art 

​Wonderfully Made: The Artis Collection of African American Art

January 18, 2020 - April 12, 2020

Graphics Gallery

This not-to-be-missed exhibition of African American art from local collectors Anthony and Davida Artis highlights works that tell a story, especially as a means to educate, encourage, and engage the community. Wonderfully Made presents 18 works through the lens of the Artis family, featuring personal anecdotes regarding their collection.

Sponsored by

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Liberty & Co., British, founded London, 1875. Chalice, ca. 1890. Pewter and glass. 6 x 5 x 5 inches. Gift of Janis and William Wetsman, 2016.23

Useful and Beautiful: Decorative Arts Highlights

November 16, 2019 - July 26, 2020

Ann K. Walch-Chan Gallery

Artfully crafted but functional items like vases, teacups, and flatware are often called decorative arts. The term was created in Europe after the Renaissance to distinguish these items from painting and sculpture. This exhibition explores an array of decorative arts including glass by Auguste Jean and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Prior to the 19th century, most glass manufacturers were aiming for pristine, almost machine-made, objects. However, some artists were seeking a different, more handcrafted, quality. In the 1870s, Auguste Jean gained attention by abstracting traditional vessel forms. While the glass was still malleable, he used tools to create protrusions and ripples in the glass. He later decorated the surface with enameled and engraved designs. Louis Comfort Tiffany applied innovative glassmaking techniques to his nature-inspired designs. Favrile glass—a term coined by Tiffany in 1894—was made to resemble ancient vessels, which, when excavated from archeological sites, had an iridescent surface. Tiffany achieved a similar look by spraying metallic salts on hot glass, a new technique that created a lustrous finish.

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Cristallerie de Pantin, French, 1850–1915. Salamander, 1878. 4 1/2 inch diameter. Photo: Paul Dunlop


November 16, 2019 - July 26, 2020

Decorative Arts Corridor

Postscript features 68 weights from a local private collector and highlights major works by classical paperweight manufacturers as well as contemporary artists. This exhibition includes two extremely rare weights made by French manufacturer Pantin. Founded in 1850, Pantin produced paperweights until 1890. Although Pantin did not create as many weights as manufacturers such as Baccarat and Clichy, those it did were­—and remain—some of the most desirable weights for collectors. The two Pantin weights in this exhibition are among less than 15 in existence. In addition to their rarity, these weights are notable because they are considered magnum weights, measuring more than 3½ inches wide.

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