Greta Alfaro, Spanish, b. 1977. In Ictu Oculi, 2009. 10:37 minutes. Image courtesy of the artist.

In Ictu Oculi

October 1, 2019 - October 31, 2019

Media Arts Gallery

In Ictu Oculi (“in the blink of an eye”) is concerned with the experience of time. The work’s title, which alludes to the brevity of human existence, is shared by a number of vanitas paintings from the 17th century. A dinner table, laden with plates of food and wine bottles, its chairs waiting to be occupied, stands in a semi-mountainous landscape, a breeze flickering its tablecloth. The table’s placement alludes to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. From out of the blue, vultures descend cautiously, bringing instability to the implied order of the scene. The meal’s duration, and its strange quietness, lend it a human quality. The birds act out a travesty of human vanities: gluttony, selfish aggression, and the coveting of what will quickly pass away.

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Robert Spear Dunning, American, 1829 - 1905. Still life with Apples, Grapes, and Other Fruits, 1868. Oil on canvas. 17 1/4 x 23 1/4 in. (43.8 x 59.1 cm). Manoogian Collection

Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850-1940

October 5, 2019 - December 30, 2019

Hodge Gallery

Amid the cultural, political, and economic shifts that shaped the decades between 1850 and 1940, American painters developed fresh ways of depicting the country and its people, creating new visions of life in the United States. Through their diverse representations, the artists in this exhibition, including Childe Hassam, Thomas Moran, John George Brown, William Glackens, and Jane Peterson, allow us to look back in time and consider a period of great change in the nation’s history.

These paintings highlight many aspects of American life, capturing intimate scenes in the home and suggesting the boisterous energy of public spaces. In unexpected ways, these works offer clues about past national politics, culture, and identity. From sweeping landscapes to still-lifes, the exhibition features paintings drawn from the Manoogian Collection of American Art on loan from the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850–1940 is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and made possible by the Richard and Jane Manoogian Collection. This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative. Generous support is provided by the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation.

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Robert Riggs, American, 1896–1970. Limestone Kilns, Wyandotte Chemical Company, Michigan, ca. 1947–48. Tempera on panel. 21 3/4 x 26 1/2 inches. Museum purchase with funds from an anonymous donor in honor of Barbara and the late Bruce Mackey, 2011.322

Industry

October 5, 2019 - December 30, 2019

Henry Gallery

This exhibition demonstrates the fascination artists have had in depicting aspects of industry in the United States. Since the early 19th century, American artists have taken the buildings and factories in which raw materials are processed to manufacture goods as their subject. Some artists portrayed these buildings in optimistic and idealized ways as symbols of prosperity, while others show factories in a more critical light, reflecting on factories’ dehumanization and environmental impact. 

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Karel Appel, Dutch, 1921–2006. Floating Face, 1969. Lithograph on paper. 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. Gift from the Collection of Myron and Barbara Levine, 2018.79. © 2019 Karel Appel Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

Harmony in Expression The Myron and Barbara Levine Print Collection

October 19, 2019 - January 12, 2020

Graphics Gallery

This exhibition of 20th-century prints by European and American artists, including Karel Appel, Jim Dine, Ruth Weisberg, and Adja Yunkers, highlights the recent gift of Myron and Barbara Ruth Levine. As collectors, Myron and Barbara (“Mike and Bobbie”) were unified in their tastes, acquiring works that they both liked and which had expressive meaning for them. They were drawn early on to collect prints, especially those of the artist movement CoBrA, a group formed in 1948 by artists from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, whose style was highly expressionistic. As avid travelers, the Levines collected at least one object or work of art wherever they went. They not only frequented local and international galleries to purchase works, but also became friends with artists, often buying directly from them. Among their travels, they often visited the Flint Institute of Arts.

Together for 62 years,  the Levines lived with their collection in a modernist Ann Arbor home. Mike (1926–2012) joined the University of Michigan’s Department of Human Genetics as Associate Professor in 1961 and remained active in the department for more than 50 years, committed to education and research. Bobbie (1929–2018) worked as the community education coordinator at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, where she started as a docent. She continued her work in the arts following her retirement in 1996 and was on the exhibition committees of the Jewish Community Center of Ann Arbor and at the Turner Senior Resource Center.

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William Morris, American, born 1957. Zande Man, 2001. Blown glass, steel stand. 26 x 16 x 16 inches. Courtesy of the Isabel Foundation, L2017.120. Photo credit: Douglas Schaible Photography

Double Take

October 26, 2019 - February 23, 2020

Harris - Burger Gallery

Have you ever looked at a work of art and wondered, “What is that made of?” Perhaps it’s a ceramic vase that looks like glass, or a wood sculpture that looks like bone. Artists often manipulate the properties of one medium to appear like something else. The contemporary objects in this exhibition build on the historical tradition of trompe l’oeil, which translates from French to “deceive the eye.” While some artists intentionally try to make one material look like another, others are simply exploring the versatility of the medium. 

Whether intentional or not, artworks featured in Double Take toy with your eyes to raise questions about the nature of art and perception. Rather than focusing on the natural beauty of glass, William Morris uses the medium’s ability to transform into wood, bone, fiber, and sinew. Steven Montgomery’s painted ceramics explore the changes caused by time and environment. What looks to be an old rusted nut is, in reality, a hand-painted ceramic sculpture. These objects are sure to keep you guessing and may just make you do a double take.

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Marina Abramović and Charles Atlas, SSS, 1989. 6 minutes. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

SSS

November 1, 2019 - November 30, 2019

Media Arts Gallery

The self-proclaimed “grandmother of performance art,” Marina Abramović collaborated with multi-media artist Charles Atlas to create SSS, an autobiographical performance in which Abramović delivers a personal chronology. This brief narrative history, which references her past in the former Yugoslavia, her performance work, and her collaboration with and separation from long time partner Ulay, is intercut with images of her engaged in symbolic gestures and ritual acts, such as scrubbing her feet or staring like Medusa as snakes writhe on her head. Closing her litany with the phrase “Time past, time present,” the artist invokes the personal and the mythological in a poignant affirmation of self.

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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

Referring to the aesthetic movement, with its emphasis on beauty over substance, Oscar Wilde wrote in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, “All art is quite useless.” This exhibition demonstrates that art can be both beautiful and useful, highlighting decorative arts from the FIA collection. Decorative arts as a category was created in Europe after the Renaissance in distinction from the “fine arts” of painting and sculpture, designating objects that are utilitarian but also artfully crafted. During the 19th-century Arts and Crafts movement in England and the United States, there was a greater appreciation for the decorative arts, with many championing the idea that there was no meaningful difference between fine and decorative. In other cultures, such as in Chinese art, this distinction would not have been relevant, as the most valued works include those that could be categorized as “decorative.”

Decorative arts includes objects such as vases, teapots, dinnerware, candlesticks, and musical instruments. These objects were made with a wide variety of materials, including glass, ceramics, metal, and wood. Styles reflect the period in which they were made, and designs are often derived from the natural world, including plant forms and animals, but also geometric designs and abstract shapes. This exhibition features highlights from the FIA collection, including recent acquisitions that have never been on view, demonstrating the broad variety of objects both useful and beautiful.

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

Postscript

November 16, 2019 - July 26, 2020

Decorative Arts Corridor

This display of important paperweights from a local collector acts as a “postscript” to the recent Small Worlds exhibition of weights from the FIA collection and private collections. Featuring 60 weights from the collection of Lansing-based Eileen Ellis, this exhibition highlights major works by such manufacturers as Pantin, Baccarat, and Clichy, as well as weights by contemporary artists.

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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

Community

January 26, 2020 - April 19, 2020

Hodge Gallery

Community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, especially one practicing common ownership.” In the case of a museum, the community is not just about people living in the same place, but people coming to the same place and practicing the common ownership of their museum collection. In this spirit, the exhibition Community celebrates works by African American artists in the Flint Institute of Arts collection. 

Unique to this exhibition, there will also be an opportunity for visitors to vote for one of three works by artists not currently in the collection (to be revealed at the Community Gala exhibition opening on Saturday, January 25). 

Voting will take place through March 8th. The work with the largest number of votes will be purchased by the museum using funds raised by the Community Gala. This voting process and purchase reinforces both the idea that the works in the FIA belong to the community, as well as underling the collection’s capacity for change and future growth. 

The exhibition will feature works in various mediums by some of the most important artists from the 19th century to present day, exploring themes related to community, including ideas of history and place, identity and representation, and social justice and self-expression. Artists include: Romare Bearden, Chakaia Booker, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Renee Stout, Kara Walker, Yvonne Wells, among many others.

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Alexis Rockman, Forces of Change

Alexis Rockman: Great Lakes Cycle

May 9, 2020 - August 16, 2020

Henry Gallery Hodge Gallery

A multi-faceted exhibition by New York-based artist Alexis Rockman will examine the forces—past, present, and future—shaping the Great Lakes, one of the most emblematic and ecologically significant environments in the world. The project features all new work by the artist based on his travel, interviews and extensive research in the Great Lakes Region.

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, with support generously provided by the Wege Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frey Foundation, and LaFontsee Galleries and Framing.

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