Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Duchess of Alba in White Duchess, 1795. Oil on canvas, 76.5" x 51.25" inches. 194cm x 130cm.
NASHVILLE, TENN.- From Francisco Goya’s Duchess of Alba in White to a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ 2016 lineup of exhibitions offers a remarkable variety of artistic media and periods. The year begins with European Old Masters, including Fra Angelico, Goya, Murillo and Rubens, from an illustrious Spanish private collection in Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting. In late spring, the beautifully designed high-performance Italian coachbuilt cars, concept cars, and motorcycles of Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975 will roll into the galleries and remain through the summer. Samurai: The Way of the Warrior, a dynamic exhibition of medieval and early modern Japanese armory and customs, closes out the year.
The Upper-Level Galleries will feature The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography and Film, which explores how early photo-based artwork in post-Revolutionary Russia energized and expanded the nature and potential of the medium, while communicating a utopian ideology. Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise examines the highly esteemed glazed ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, bookbindings, and textiles crafted by women artists at Newcomb College between 1890 and 1940. Icelandic video and performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s hypnotic and playful video installation The Visitors, which has been wildly popular in New York, Boston and numerous international venues, explores the range of human emotions and combines the artist’s interests in music, endurance and beauty.
In the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, the Frist Center will present the absurdist films of Dutch artist Guido van der Werve and paintings by New York artist Inka Essenhigh, which feature ethereal figures and dreamlike environments.
The Frist Center’s schedule of exhibitions in 2016 in order of opening:
Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting
February 5–May 1, 2016
Drawn from one of the oldest and most significant private collections in Europe, Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting features works by Dürer, Goya, Murillo, Ribera, Rubens, and more from the splendid palaces of the Alba dynasty in Spain. Co-organized by the Meadows Museum and the Casa de Alba Foundation, the exhibition brings together more than 130 works of art dating from antiquity to the twentieth century. This is the first major exhibition outside Spain of works from the collection of the House of Alba—a prominent noble family with ties to the Spanish monarchy since the fifteenth century—and presents masterpieces such as The Duchess of Alba in White by Francisco de Goya as well as Fra Angelico’s The Virgin of the Pomegranate, which has never before traveled to the U.S. The largest known collection of handwritten documents and maps from Christopher Columbus will be on display, including a drawing of the coastline of Hispaniola, the first island he discovered in the New World. The exhibition also includes prints and drawings, sculpture, historical documents and manuscripts, decorative objects and tapestries. The exhibition curator is Dr. Fernando Checa Cremades, former director of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, who is also serving as editor of the accompanying catalogue.
Guido van der Werve: numbers 2 6 8 14
February 5–May 1, 2016
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery
Dutch artist Guido van der Werve creates films that juxtapose elements of grace and absurdity, often to whimsical and unsettling effect. In this exhibition, filmed performances of classical dance and music—which have a quality of timelessness and traditional refinement—are set in banal scenarios that delightfully subvert our expectations of the ordinary. Van der Werve pursued studies in industrial design, archaeology, music composition and Russian language and literature before creating his first videos around 2000. Since that time he has created numerous films, videos and artist’s books.
The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography and Film
March 11–July 4, 2016
From early vanguard constructivist works by Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky to the modernist images of Arkady Shaikhet and Max Penson, Soviet photographers played a pivotal role in the history of modern photography. The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography and Film examines how photography, film, and poster art were harnessed to disseminate Communist ideology, revisiting a moment in history when artists acted as engines of social change and radical political engagement. Covering the period from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through the 1930s, the exhibition explores how early modernist photography and film influenced a new Soviet style while energizing and expanding the nature of the media. Through 181 works, The Power of Pictures reveals how striking images by master photographers and filmmakers were seen as powerful propaganda tools in the new Soviet Union, and looks at photography and film together as influential and formally related media.
Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975
May 27–October 9, 2016
Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975 celebrates the visual dynamism and spirit of innovation characterizing Italian coachbuilt cars, concept cars and motorcycles produced during the post–World War II economic revival. Returning to the Frist Center after the 2013 presentation of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, automotive authority and guest curator Ken Gross has chosen 18 vehicles and 3 motorcycles from private collections and museums that are among the finest examples of Italian automotive design, including vehicles by Alfa Romeo, Bizzarrini, Ducati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lancia and Maserati. With the ultra-rare Alfa Romeo B.A.T. models 5, 7 and 9 from the 1950s and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, this all-star assembly offers surprises for even the most knowledgeable car aficionados. Bellissima! illustrates five distinct themes: Berlinettas, Aerodynamics, Advanced Mid-engine Cars, Wedge-Shaped Automobiles and Custom Coachwork Designs for Italian and American Automakers. These powerful and extraordinary cars exemplify the sexy and streamlined Italian design language that propelled Italy to the forefront of automotive design internationally. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue published by Rizzoli.
Inka Essenhigh: Between Worlds
May 27–October 9, 2016
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery
In this exhibition of paintings and monotypes created over the past decade, Inka Essenhigh shows ethereal figures and dreamlike environments in which boundaries are melted: interior becomes exterior; solid becomes fluid; the sensual overlaps with the absurd; plant becomes human; clarity and mystery coexist. Her cast of characters and their settings are meant to present the possibility of existence outside of body and mind, yet the dream-like images have links to reality, reflecting time spent between lower Manhattan—where she lives for most of the year—and a family home in rural Maine. While the images have connections with mysticism and folklore, they also serve as a reminder of the beauty of the natural world.
Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise
July 29–November 6, 2016
Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise is the largest presentation of Newcomb arts and crafts in more than twenty-five years and offers new insights into the Newcomb community’s enduring mark on American art and industry. With 150 objects that span 45 years of production, the exhibition examines the role that the Newcomb school played in promoting art for the advancement of women, and in turn, New Orleans’ business and cultural communities, which were still struggling from the effects of the Civil War. What began as an educational experiment in 1895 at the Newcomb College, Tulane University’s former women’s college, flourished into a quasicommercial venture that offered an opportunity for Southern women to support themselves financially during and after their training as artists. Many of the works of the Newcomb Pottery enterprise were inspired by the native flora and fauna of the Gulf South, a style that became immediately recognizable and popular with influential collectors, curators and tastemakers across the country. This exhibition features important examples of the iconic pottery, including the recently acquired daffodil motif vase by Harriet Joor, and metalwork, including the 1929 silver and moonstone necklace attributed to Mary Williams Butler, and other textiles, jewelry, bookbinding and other historical artifacts.
Samurai: The Way of the Warrior
November 4, 2016–February 26, 2017
Samurai, a term that roughly translates as “those who serve,” refers to the legendary warrior class that played an important role in Japanese politics and society from the late eighth century until the mid-nineteenth century. Shōguns, or supreme military leaders, governed Japan as de facto rulers until 1867 when the military government was abolished and the emperor returned to power. The values emphasized by the samurai included loyalty, courage, honor, and personal cultivation, and profoundly affected the art, craft, and design produced during this long era. Featuring more than ninety objects ranging in date from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, this dynamic exhibition showcases the life of these warriors and investigates their moral, cultural and aesthetic codes. With a selection of nine full suits of armor, twelve expressive helmets (kabuto), numerous decorated swords (katana) and sword fittings, along with beautiful standing screens and lacquer wares, Samurai: The Way of the Warrior celebrates the exemplary artistry and highly skilled craftsmanship of medieval and early modern Japanese artisans. Other highlights include a seventeenth-century riding saddle inlaid with intricate mother-of-pearl and a sumptuous chair covered in silk brocade, gold and silver. The exhibition also demonstrates how seasonal and animal motifs carried symbolic significance and marked individual owners’ identity, taste and status.
Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors
November 18, 2016–February 12, 2017
Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s hypnotic and playful video installation The Visitors explores a wide range of human emotions, conveyed through the repetition of a single haunting melody as played by the artist and other musicians spread through the 43-room Rokeby Farm, a nearly 200-year-old house in the Hudson River Valley. Combining Kjartansson’s interests in music, endurance, and beauty, the hourlong nine-screen video has been called “a generational masterpiece” by the Boston Globe. The seductive music, combined with the shabby elegance of the house and the isolation of each performer, creates a reflection on the nature of collaboration, the character and spirit of the home, and the emotions that can be conveyed within a series of nuanced repetitions.