St. Paul, MN, December 17, 2013
Exhibition Dates: February 6 – April 13, 2014
High resolution images available upon request.
OBJECTS: MMAA features 50 pieces by 50 artists from the stellar collection of
the Minnesota Museum of American Art, as well as the work of five contemporary artists. The exhibition engages with the continuing debate about the line between art and craft, which has been renewed with vigor in recent years as fine artists borrow from craft traditions and craft artists move away from functional objects.
One of the key texts that informed MMAA Curator of Engagement Christina Chang’s selection of artworks is the catalog OBJECTS: USA, from which the current exhibition’s title is borrowed. This 360-page publication accompanied the exhibition OBJECTS: USA, organized by the S.C. Johnson Company of Racine, Wisconsin, and shown at the Minnesota Museum of Art in 1970. In the accompanying text on the history of American craft, the exhibition’s curator attributed the turn to craft traditions by artists in the postwar period to a negative reaction against consumer culture. The handmade art or craft object represented a rejection of “the conformity, the built-in obsolescence, and the anonymity of mass produced objects,” and “a desire shared by many people for one-of-a-kind objects that truly represent an extension of individual personality.” There is a parallel shift today towards making and handcrafting in response to the digitization of culture, which MMAA has explored in two earlier exhibitions, D.I.Y. Printing: Presses Not Required and Repetition & Ritual: New Sculpture in Fiber.
OBJECTS: MMAA features a number of significant gifts and acquisitions throughout MMAA’s history, some of which have never been shown before. Mid-century studio craft is a particular strength of the MMAA collection, and was primarily acquired from the museum’s Fiber-Clay-Metal exhibitions in the 1950s and 1960s. These juried shows lured the finest North American artists working in textiles, ceramics, and metalwork, and showcased hundreds of the most innovative works being created at the time. In 1977, S. C. Johnson & Son donated several pieces from OBJECTS: USA to the MMAA. Three of these gifts are in the current show: a three-piece sterling silver coffee set by Zaven Zee Sipantzi, Thomas Lynn’s striking aluminum chair, and metal tableware by John Prip.
Other special pieces include a rare early pot by Peter Voulkos that pre-dates the adoption of his signature abstract and sculptural style, and a choice sampling of covetous jewelry, including a particularly fine example of current American Craft Council Fellow Stanley Lechtzin’s work. The objects that one would associate more with “fine art,” such as paintings and prints, were chosen for their concern with surface and design, and include work by Frank Bigbear, Adolph Gottlieb, and Miriam Schapiro. Chang also invited five artists who are redefining the art and craft object in provocative ways to contribute new work. They are Jan Elftmann, Lauren Herzak-Bauman, Ruben Nusz, Monica Rudquist, and Eun-Kyung Suh. “This exhibition is something of a homecoming for the Minnesota Museum of American Art,” said MMAA Executive Director Kristin Makholm. “We’re thrilled to be able to share our permanent collection with the public. The exhibition demonstrates the museum’s continuing commitment to contemporary craft, and the important role we play as an institution promoting a greater understanding of the relationship between art and craft.”
OBJECTS: MMAA: February 6 – April 13, 2014
MMAA Project Space 332 N. Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Member’s Only Preview: 6 - 7 p.m.
MMAA Members enjoy a hosted reception and introductory remarks on the show by MMAA Executive Director Kristin Makholm and special guest Marcia Anderson, an accomplished independent curator specializing in fine craft. Live music performed by McNally Smith College of Music alum David Sutton, the Modern Violinist. Refreshments provided
in part by Big Top Liquor.
Public Opening: 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Richard Abell, Amalia Amaki, Robert Arneson, Mary Bauermeister, Herbert Bayer, Harry Bertoia, Frank Bigbear, Ilya Bolotowsky, Douglas T. Bond, Betty Cooke, James Crnkovich, Benjamin F. Cunningham, Claudia DeMonte, Dominic Di Mare, Enrico Donati, Edris Eckhardt, Jan Elftmann, Brian Eno, Jimmy Ernst, Walker Evans, Fritz Glarner, Susan B. Goldberg, Adolph Gottlieb, Trude Guermonprez, Vivika and Otto Heino, Lauren Herzak Bauman, Paul Klee, Stanley Lechtzin, Craig Lossing, Thomas Lynn, Maria Martinez, John Paul Miller, Masayuki Nagare, Win Ng, Ruben Nusz, Ronald Hayes Pearson, Joseph A. Perez, John Prip, Svetozar Radakovich, Monica Rudquist, Fanny Sanín, Miriam Schapiro, Edwin Scheier, Christian Schmidt, June Schwarcz, Bonnie Seeman, Zaven Zee Sipantzi, Olaf Skoogfors, Steven Sorman, Eun-Kyung Suh, Toshiko Takaezu, Peter Voulkos, Edward Weston, Marguerite Wildenhain, and Anne Youkeles.