Current and upcoming exhibitions at Toledo Museum of Art
Luminous Visions: Phillip K. Smith III and Light Across the Collection
Gallery 18: Through April 4, 2021
California-based artist Phillip K. Smith III creates light-based installations that explore the relationships between light, color, space and form. His work Flat Torus 4, recently acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art, is one of a series of nine torus-shaped works in which the artist creates a digital display of colored light (a torus is a three-dimensional geometrical form shaped somewhat like a donut). Using computer software and LED lights on a translucent acrylic support, Smith choreographs the precise color, brightness and pace of change seen within the work. The artist describes these color-shifting installations as highly specific three-dimensional canvases that he “paints” with light over time. The effect is a mesmerizing display of gradually transforming and undulating rings of colored light.
To mark the significant acquisition of Flat Torus 4, this exhibition considers the work alongside objects from the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection that span time, culture and media and explore the theme of light from a wide range of perspectives. These perspectives include the importance of light in religious or spiritual practices; studies of optics and color theory; applications of translucent and reflective materials; studies of light at different times of day; “Luminist” approaches to light in American landscape painting; the absence of light; and photographic explorations of light and shadow.
Luminous Visions: Phillip K. Smith III and Light Across the Collection is sponsored by 2021 Exhibition Program Sponsors Taylor Cadillac and ProMedica, with additional support from Richard and Dolly Flasck and the Ohio Arts Council. Free admission.
Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings Levis Gallery: Through May 2, 2021
Marking the artist’s 100th birthday, Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings celebrates the breadth of Thiebaud’s accomplishments and career. Long affiliated with Pop art, the exhibition shows the expansive depth of his full body of work.
Thiebaud's bright palette, iconic consumerist imagery and graphic presentation were well suited to the Pop art moment that was starting to capture the nation's attention in the 1960s (though he did not consider himself a Pop artist), and Thiebaud remains best known for his paintings of pies, cakes and other sugary treats. His style and use of paint seemed both remarkably lifelike and tantalizingly delicious.
In addition to painting, Thiebaud’s work spans drawings, watercolors and prints. He also beautifully renders people in figure studies and fully realized compositions, and over time, landscapes have appeared with increasing frequency in the artist's paintings and works on paper.
Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings is organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California. The exhibition is sponsored locally in part by 2021 Exhibition Program Sponsors Taylor Cadillac and ProMedica, with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council, the TMA Ambassadors and the Rita B. Kern Foundation. Admission is free for Museum members and $10 for nonmembers. Discounts for military and seniors ($7); college students and youth ages 5–17 ($5); and children four and younger (free) are available.
Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined
Wolfe Gallery Mezzanine: Opened March 27, 2021
Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined brings together historical and contemporary works from the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection to explore the spectrum of technical and formal possibilities of glass. One of the oldest human-made substances, glass is neither a true solid nor a liquid and belies conventional understandings of how materials work. For more than 4,000 years, artists have exploited the inherent mutability of glass, transforming the molten material into an impressive range of forms, colors and textures, often blurring the lines between one medium and another. More recently, artists have turned to newer materials and techniques, such as plastic and photography, to engage with historic glass and draw connections with the past. Looking at the relationship between glass, precious stones, metalwork, ceramics, photography, and performance, Chameleon Effects demonstrates the longstanding history of the interaction of glass with other substances, while challenging traditional art historical categories of separate media and defined materials.
Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined is sponsored by 2021 Exhibition Program sponsors Taylor Cadillac and ProMedica, with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council. Free admission.
Rare and Wondrous: Birds in Art and Culture 1620–1820 Gallery 18: April 24-July 25, 2021
Corresponding with an age of exploration, colonialism, and the rise of the great European trading companies – including the West African slave trade – intense interest in natural history and attempts to classify and categorize it grew as specimens of plants, insects, shells, mammals and birds were collected from around the world and brought back to Europe. Ornithology, the study of birds and their classification, made especially great strides in the 1700s with many lavishly illustrated studies of birds being published during the century. But naturalists were not the only
ones fascinated by these “exotic” birds. Monarchs and aristocrats collected them in cabinets of curiosities and aviaries, artists painted them, moralizers found symbolic meaning in them and women wore their feathers as accessories. This exhibition highlights images of exotic birds in European art primarily from the 17th and 18th centuries that show how they became the objects of scientific inquiry, of popular interest, of status, and even of household decoration and personal adornment.
The exhibition will showcase the Museum’s recent acquisition of the important six-volume Ornithologie written by Mathurin-Jacques Brisson and illustrated by François-Nicolas Martinet, published 1760. It will also feature paintings, prints and decorative arts from TMA’s collection, as well as select loans of significant prints and illustrated books from the Yale Center for British Art, the University of Michigan Museums Library and Special Collections, and the Bowling Green State University Libraries Center for Archival Collections.
Rare and Wondrous: Birds in Art and Culture 1620–1820 is sponsored by 2021 Exhibition Program sponsors Taylor Cadillac and ProMedica, with support from the McLoughlin Family Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. Free admission.
Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art
Levis and New Media Galleries: June 12-Sept. 5, 2021
Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art is the first museum exhibition to broadly examine the relationship between American artists and the supernatural. Featuring well-known artists together with many who have been overlooked, the exhibition is interdisciplinary, multicultural and multimedia. It includes many generations of artists active in the United States from diverse faith traditions working with a wide range of topics and approaches. From the Salem Witch Trials and the Legend of Ichabod Crane; the 1848 spirit rappings famously reported by Kate and Maggie Fox and the spirit photographs of William Mumler; to the scientific pursuit of parapsychology and innumerable personal and official government reports of UFOs; American culture is filled with tales of the supernatural and accounts of paranormal experiences. This complex and multifaceted subject has beguiled American artists for centuries, and it remains compelling today.
A broad range of artists has engaged this subject matter, which often grew out of their personal experience, religious practices and scientific pursuits. Spanning a chronology of the early 19th century through the present, Supernatural America includes approximately 160 objects. It emphasizes painting at its core, but also includes drawings, sketchbooks and journals, prints, photographs, furniture, clothing and textiles, video, and other objects (scientific instruments and mediumistic/occult paraphernalia, including Ouija boards and planchettes).
Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art is organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and has been made possible in part by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition is sponsored locally by presenting sponsors Susan and Tom Palmer, and 2021 Exhibition Program Sponsors Taylor Cadillac and ProMedica, with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council.
The Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum
Levis Gallery: Nov. 6, 2021-Feb. 27, 2022
From the warriors of ancient Greek legends and the knights of the Middle Ages to the superheroes of today’s popular culture, the idea of personal body armor has an enduring hold on the human imagination. Armor is as old as human civilization and has been used in various forms in societies around the globe, but full suits of articulated steel plates were made only in Europe, and only for a brief time in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. This exhibition explores the story of armor in its golden age.
Suits of armor are among the most popular objects with museumgoers, but there are few significant collections of armor in the Americas. In 2014, the Worcester Art Museum acquired the Higgins Armory Collection. While most of this rare collection is in storage awaiting the creation of a dedicated arms and armor gallery, there is a unique opportunity to share these objects with a national and international public. Visitors will discover the diverse and often surprising stories embedded in these powerful objects. Far from the ungainly exoskeleton we often imagine today, the suit of armor was made to be sleek and stylish—painstakingly engineered, elegantly designed, and treasured as the expression of its owner’s taste, sophistication and prowess.
The Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum is organized by the Worcester Art Museum and is sponsored locally by presenting sponsors Susan and Tom Palmer, as well as 2021 Exhibition Program sponsor ProMedica, with additional support from the McLoughlin Family Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.
Trip to the Mountaintop: Recent Acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
New Media Gallery: Jan. 15, 2022-May 1, 2022
This landmark exhibition will celebrate a significant addition of works by African American artists from the southern United States to the collection at the Toledo Museum of Art. This selection of works of art ranges from large-scale assemblages and mixed-media sculptures to paintings, textiles, and works on paper. Artists represented include Thornton Dial, Thornton Dial, Jr., Richard Dial, Lonnie Holley, Leroy Alman, and several generations of women quiltmakers from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, including Louisiana Bendolph, Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, Jessie T. Pettway, Lucy T. Pettway and Martha Pettway.
The Souls Grown Deep Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting the artistic production and cultural traditions of African American artists from the rural South. In 2014, the foundation began a multi-year program to transfer works to the permanent collections of leading American and international art museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fines Arts, Boston, and more.
Trip to the Mountaintop will support TMA’s initiative to broaden the narrative of its collection and exhibition programs to include artists whose cultural perspectives and traditions have historically been underrepresented in museum institutions. These works contribute to a richer and more complex story of American art that includes the voices of Black artists who cultivated artistic practices outside the mainstream art academy. Many of these artists have cultural roots in creative expressions of the African diaspora, passed down through familial and communal traditions. Their work explores ever-present issues of violence, oppression and racial inequality while revealing an artmaking tradition based upon the creative reinvention of everyday objects. The acquisition will also highlight their contributions to the broader visual and material culture of the 20th century, situating them within the canon of American Modernism.
Trip to the Mountaintop is sponsored by Exhibition Program sponsor ProMedica with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council.