Museum Magazine, Fall 2017, Number 71

Museum Magazine Issue 71 (Fall 2017)

From the Director, Alex W. Barker

I’ve always been fascinated by the way museums communicate information about the works they exhibit. Sometimes they overload you with information, other times they leave you crying for more, or leave your most pressing questions unanswered. But one of the things I find most interesting is the different information that an individual will choose to say (or choose not to say) about a given work. This fall we’ll be highlighting those choices.

The Lasting World: Simon Dinnerstein and The Fulbright Triptych follows a thirty-year arc of works by New York-based artist Simon Dinnerstein, and features his best-known work, The Fulbright Triptych that New York Times art critic Roberta Smith described as a “crackling, obsessive showboat of a painting, dreamed up during a decade when the medium supposedly teetered on the brink of death.” Organized by the Museum of Art and Archaeology, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (available through the Museum Store and online), and features the July premier of a musical work by noted composer Robert Sirota, inspired by several of Dinnerstein’s drawings, as well as a September scholarly symposium on Dinnerstein’s works (which will later be published), and a November book club visit by Dinnerstein to discuss one of his favorite books, novelist John William’s Stoner, set at the University of Missouri campus.

At first glance Dinnerstein’s work seems based on a simple one-point perspective, but as you look closer matters become more complex—different objects in the same image may be shown in subtly different perspectives, and the converging lines communicate more than the appearance of shapes in space. Instead of offering viewers a single viewpoint—a single perspective, if you will—we asked scholars from different disciplines or with different kinds of expertise to write their own labels for Simon’s works. You can follow a single person’s views throughout the exhibition, or consider the contrasting views of different experts when looking at a single work. After its debut here at the Museum, the exhibition and its multiple-point perspectives will travel to additional venues in New York and Nevada.

Or come see Courtiers, Courtesans, and Crones: Women in Japanese Prints, the latest in our cycle of focus exhibitions showcasing eighteenth–nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints. Here curator Alisa Carlson examines the ways that artists, carvers, printers, and publishers—all male—chose to depict women in Tokugawa-period Japan. The conventionalized roles and stereotypes of seventeenth–nineteenth century Japanese art are interpreted through the lens of contemporary feminist scholarship. During the same period we’ll also present another focus exhibition, Impressions of Modernity: Prints from 1870–1945; featuring works by Grosz, Kollwitz, Kandinsky, Manet, and Vlaminck, among others. This exhibition examines the works of avant-garde modernist artists as printmakers. Courtiers will be followed by another woodblock exhibition, examining the influence of Japonisme on European art.

The Museum now offers a drop-in sketch group (third Tuesday of each month, 10-11:30am). You can join friends new and old, discover or hone your sketching talents, and explore your own perspectives on the works currently displayed. Fall is also festival time at the Museum. In addition to signature Museum Associates events like the Crawfish Boil—art museums are sometimes pilloried as elitist or snobbish institutions, but trust me, no one can be elitist or snobbish while eating mudbugs—we will also be celebrating both National Museum Day (in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution) and International Archaeology Day (in collaboration with the Archaeological Institute of America). Come join us!

The only perspective missing is yours.

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Year: 
2017

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"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association