Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Mexican, 1902 - 2002. Parábola óptical / Optic Parable, 1931. Gelatin silver print mounted on board. 9 1/2 × 7 1/4 in. (24.1 × 18.4 cm)

Surrealismo, Ojos de México

July 21, 2018 - October 14, 2018

Graphics Gallery

Surrealismo, Ojos de México (Surrealism, Eyes of Mexico) features photographs by celebrated artists who demonstrate the enduring influence of surrealism on photography in Mexico. While Europe was torn apart by World War I, Mexico had its own upheaval: the 20th century’s first monumental revolution, stretching from 1910 to 1920. Seven percent of Mexico’s population lost their lives, 2,000 communities vanished, and economic growth came to an abrupt halt. However, just as World War I led to fresh approaches to art in Europe, the Mexican Revolution spawned an artistic renaissance. 

At this time, many photographers embraced modernism as they sought to capture the realities of the country in innovative ways. They were particularly drawn to European surrealism with its dream-like compositions and explorations of the subconscious. Mexico itself was a country with many contrasts; its juxtapositions were unexpected, ironic, humorous, frustrating, and hopeful—ancient and modern, poor and rich, indigenous and foreign. In this setting, surrealism was a natural fit for what many photographers were observing in the world around them.

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Leon Kroll, American, 1884 - 1974. Terminal Yards, 1913. Oil on canvas. 46 × 52 1/8 in. (116.8 × 132.4 cm). Framed: 51 1/2 × 57 1/2 × 1
7/8 in. (130.8 × 146.1 × 4.8 cm). Gift of Mrs. Arthur Jerome Eddy

Collecting Stories

September 15, 2018 - November 4, 2018

Henry Gallery Hodge Gallery

Did you know that FIA owns two paintings that were included in the famous 1913 Armory Show in New York City, one of the most important art exhibitions in the history of American art? Or that the very first work of art to enter the collection, Tunis Ponsen’s The Old Pier, was purchased by the general public through a donation box? These are just two of several collecting stories that comprise this exhibition that celebrates 90 years of FIA history. From its beginning as an art school in 1928, the FIA has grown into the second largest art museum in the state. This growth is attributable to the many civic-minded and generous community members who had the foresight to establish and sustain both an art school and museum. 

For 90 years, the FIA collected art and artifacts spanning the continents and 5,000 years. The world-renowned collection is significant for its depth of important European and American paintings and sculptures, as well as its extensive holdings of contemporary craft, decorative and applied arts, and important ethnographic collections. The collection began in 1929 and now numbers more than 8,000 objects—from ancient to contemporary. It is our most enduring legacy, one that reveals the interests of a community that has had such an impressive and lasting influence on American industry and design.

This exhibition reveals the behind-the-scenes stories about how important artworks came into the collection over the past nine decades, with special attention paid to significant donors and giving legacies.

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Michael Robinson, American, born 1981. The Dark, Krystle, 2013. 9:34 minutes. Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank,, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Dark, Krystle

September 1, 2018 - September 30, 2018

Media Arts Gallery

The Dark, Krystle features a montage of Linda Evans and Joan Collins from the 1980s evening soap opera Dynasty. The film rekindles issues of identity, consumption, and excess in 1980s pop culture. Michael Robinson reconfigures the rivals’ melodrama in repetition—theatrical breakdowns, nasty glares, excessive drinking—allowing viewers to feel the clichés recharged with new emotional power.

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John Woodward, American, b. 1950. Garage, 1995–1996. Painted ceramic. 28 x 19 x 20 inches. Gift of Mary Mallery Davis, by exchange, 2016.14

Breaking with Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics

April 21, 2018 - January 27, 2019

Harris - Burger Gallery

In the beginning of the 20th century, the production of ceramics was dominated by large factories making utilitarian objects like bowls, vases, and plates. While there were some notable exceptions, most experimentation and innovation in clay did not happen until after World War II. Ceramicists such as Peter Voulkos were influenced by Abstract Expressionism, and others, such as Viola Frey and Robert Arneson, made a deliberate choice to work in a style neither traditional nor vessel-oriented, yet were not purely abstract. 

While some used this new freedom from function to explore the possibilities of form, shape, and color, others ventured into figuration, narrative subject matter, and manipulation of historical and traditional forms. The objects in this exhibition demonstrate how ceramicists using a diversity of approaches—from playful to political—broke with tradition.

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Baccarat, French, Garland on white "stardust" carpet ground, mid-19th century. Glass, 2 3/16 x 3 3/16 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Richards, 1969.75.51

Small Worlds

April 7, 2018 - May 29, 2019

Ann K. Walch-Chan Gallery

Small Worlds highlights different techniques, styles, and various types of paperweights from the 19th century, the classic period for paperweight manufacture, to present day. This exhibition features works from the classic period by European glass factories like French crystal manufacturers Baccarat, Clichy, and Saint-Louis. Paperweight production all but ceased in late 19th century Europe, but was revived in the mid-20th century in both Europe and the United States. Independent artists experimented with new designs, techniques, and materials. Some of the earliest contemporary paperweights in Small Worlds were created by Charles Kaziun and Dominick Labino, both members of the Studio Glass Movement. Numerous works by Paul Stankard, Rick Ayotte, and Cathy Richardson as well as artworks by seventeen other contemporary paperweight makers are also featured.

Paperweights continue to be a popular art object today, and manufacturers and artists all over the world have enlarged the scope, scale, design and fabrication of this diminutive object. This exhibition not only features a vast collection of historical European paperweights from the FIA’s permanent collection but also a large variety of contemporary paperweights from important private collections.

Now Available

Paperweights: Highlights from the Flint Institute of Arts Collection

(hardcover; 248 pages; $24.95)

This exhibition catalog features more than 140 weights from the Classic Period (1845–1860) of French manufacturers Baccarat, Clichy, and Saint-Louis, to works by contemporary artists Josh Simpson and Debbie Tarsitano, from the collections of Mrs. Viola E. Bray and Mrs. Genevieve Shaw. Kathryn Sharbaugh, FIA Director of Development, serves as guest curator to research and write about the history of paperweights, as well as highlight their various styles, techniques, and categories. This book is published in conjunction with the exhibition Small Worlds, which presents a survey of glass paperweights from the 19th century to the present. Support for the catalogue provided by the Bray Charitable Trust.

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