Special Exhibitions & Gallery Installations

Special Exhibitions:

Signs of Protest: Photographs from the Civil Rights Era
January 11 – August 3, 2014
Free admission

Signs and protests were inseparable in the 1960s, with words painted or printed large scale to produce maximum impact when photographed or filmed by the media. Like a visual bullhorn, they both amplified and unified the voices fighting injustice. This exhibition includes photographs that feature protest signs, as well as images of the larger culture of resistance surrounding them, with an emphasis on Civil Rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael. Benedict Fernandez’s powerful portfolio, Countdown to Eternity, documents the last year of King’s life. Other images express the need for opposition, such as Gordon Parks’s striking photograph of an aunt and niece standing under the neon sign, “Colored Entrance,” outside a movie theater in Alabama. Likewise, Richard Anderson captured a sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Richmond, Virginia, with a “Restaurant Closed” sign prominently advertising the store’s refusal to serve its African American customers.
Curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Signs of Protest is part of an exhibition and program initiative highlighting civil rights and social justice with six cultural organizations in Richmond in early 2014.

Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit
January 24 – October 19, 2014
Free admission

Ryan McGinness’s creative process for his 2009 painting Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA) is the focus of this inventive exhibition. Commissioned by VMFA, the artist’s 16-panel painting contains 200 icons inspired by works from the museum’s collection. A three-part exhibition, the first gallery provides a glimpse of McGinness’s studio practice, the second displays a selection of the objects McGinness chose from the museum’s collection alongside his sketches and final image, and the last portion features early works the artist made while growing up in Virginia Beach. The exhibition promises to engage a wide audience, and an exciting array of education programs will encourage young viewers to seek out favorite works in the collection and actively participate in their own process of exploration and interpretation.
Curated by John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Posing Beauty in African American Culture
April 27 – July 27, 2014
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

Posing Beauty in African American Culture examines the contested ways in which African and African American beauty has been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture such as music and the Internet. The exhibition explores contemporary understandings of beauty by framing the notion of aesthetics, race, class, and gender within art, popular culture, and political contexts. Drawn from public and private collections, Posing Beauty features approximately 85 works by artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Eve Arnold, Gary Winogrand, Sheila Pree Bright, Leonard Freed, Renee Cox, Anthony Barboza, Bruce Davidson, Mickalene Thomas, and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

Posing Beauty in African American Culture is curated by Deborah Willis and organized by the Department of Photography & Imaging at New York University. The traveling exhibition is administered by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, Calif.

Identity Shifts
In conjunction with Posing Beauty, this collection-based exhibition features works by African American artists who use representations of the human figure or some aspect of the body (including hair) to explore how we construct and perceive personal and cultural identity. The selection of paintings and sculptures—from the 1970s to the present—features an array of perspectives and styles that underscore the complex factors informing conceptions of race and gender. Many of the 21st century artists—such as iona rozeal brown, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Robert Pruitt—mix national, international, historical, and pop-culture references with personal stylistic preferences to produce images that provoke more questions about identity than they answer. The selection of photographs offers a survey of 20th- to 21st-century work—from James VanDerZee to Carrie Mae Weems to Hank Willis Thomas—while also highlighting the work of lesser-known artists, such as Richmond native Louis Draper, who played a primary role in founding the first African American photography collective, Kamoinge, in New York in 1963. Many of these works will be on view at VMFA for the first time.
Curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Printmakers of World War I
July 28 – November 16, 2014
Free admission

This exhibition marks the centenary of the commencement of World War I on July 28, 1914. The story of the so-called Great War is told through approximately 25 prints by renowned British and American artists such as Muirhead Bone, Kerr Eby, Childe Hassam, James McBey, and Claude Shepperdson.
The works depict scenes of combat in France and the Near East, life on the home front in the United States and England, and the war’s aftermath and commemoration. All of the prints come from the Frank Raysor collection, a promised gift to VMFA.
Curated by Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art

Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing
October 18, 2014 – January 11, 2015
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

This landmark exhibition will feature more than 180 works of art from the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (“The Forbidden City”). The largest art museum in China and the largest palace in the world, the Palace Museum is located in the center of Beijing within the ancient Imperial Palace, where 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties resided from 1420 until 1924, when the last emperor was expelled. The Palace Museum was established in 1925 and holds more than 1.8 million works of art and artifacts. The exhibition is part of a groundbreaking multi-year collaboration between VMFA and the Palace Museum. The exhibition will offer a broad perspective of Imperial China during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties with a focus on the 17th and 18th centuries. Featured works—ranging from portraits of emperors and empresses, court paintings, religious sculpture, and ritual objects to fine ceramics, bronzes, lacquerware, jade, costumes, textiles, and furniture—will be combined with 3-D virtual technology and architectural features to offer visitors an immersive experience, as if passing through the Forbidden City during the height of its glory and splendor.
Curated by Li Jian, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art

Fine Arts and Flowers
November 5-9, 2014
Free admission

Flowers and fine art combine for a exhibition of beauty and creativity. Floral designers from more than 50 garden club chapters across Virginia interpret masterworks in VMFA’s collection with floral arrangements throughout the galleries. Lectures by prominent floral arrangers, an evening gala, lunches, a Sunday morning brunch in bloom, a fashion show, a floral tea, hands-on flower arranging workshop, and other events will take place throughout the four-day exhibition.

Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints
November 15, 2014 – March 29, 2015
Free admission

Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) was a prominent Japanese landscape painter of the early-20th century and one of the advocates of the shin hanga (new prints) movement. During his early years, Hasui studied the ukiyo-e style of Japanese painting in Tokyo and traveled around the country. Many of his landscape prints were derived from the sketches of landscapes and townscapes he made during his travels and were published as illustrations in books and magazines during the Taisho period (1912-1926). Hasui’s works illustrate Japan’s landscape, the beauty of urban spaces, and modern life in Japan. Through these tranquil, obscure, and dreamlike works, the exhibition explores the themes of nostalgia and longing—the search for individual and national identity in Japan during the early Taisho period (1912-1926), an era of rapid social and cultural change during the country’s modernization. The exhibition will further explore themes of the native landscape, the discovery beauty of urban spaces, and overcoming the anonymity of modern life in Japan.

Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints emphasizes Hasui’s earliest and most creative period of woodblock print design from 1918 to the Great Earthquake of 1923, when many of his early prints were destroyed. This exhibition intends to present all of Hasui’s prints from this dynamic period of his career. It is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Kendall H. Brown, Professor of Asian Art History, California State University, Long Beach.

Miwako Nishizawa: Twelve Views of Virginia
November 15, 2014 – March 29, 2015
Free admission

Miwako Nishizawa is a California-based Japanese-American artist specializing in the traditional shin-hanga Japanese woodblock technique that revitalized the ukiyo-e tradition in early 20th century Japan. As part of their interest in the work of shin-hanga artist Kawase Hasui, collectors René and Carolyn Balcer commissioned Nishizawa to execute Twelve Views of Virginia in the shin-hanga style. This exhibition uses working drawings and artist proofs from the series to demonstrate the technique. These will be exhibited at the same time as a large exhibition of works by Hasui in the Evans Court Gallery. Prints from the series will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

Working among Flowers: Manet, Van Gogh, and the Modern Still Life
March 21 – June 21, 2015
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

This exhibition demonstrates how the traditional genre of still-life painting was re-invented by 19th-century painters, even as the art world was radically transformed by the advent of modernism. The title, taken from an 1888 letter of Vincent van Gogh, suggests the commitment shared by many of van Gogh’s contemporaries to flowers as both a subject and a source of painterly meditation. Well-known artists such as Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cezanne as well as less-familiar names such as Gerard van Spaendonck, Antoine Berjon, and Simon Saint-Jean engaged in a sophisticated reworking of traditional imagery, bringing the floral still life into dialogue with emerging models of science and commerce. In the process, they transformed the genre into a reflection on the nature of artistic representation itself. Organized by VMFA and the Dallas Museum of Art, the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue will be the first scholarly treatment of this important subject.

Working among Flowers will feature major loans from institutional members of FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange) as well as other important public and private collections. Following its premier at Dallas, the exhibition will travel to VMFA and one other venue.
Co-curated by Dr. Mitchell Merling, VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art, and Dr. Heather MacDonald, Dallas Museum of Art’s Associate Curator of European Art
Making America: Myth, Memory, and Identity
September 5 – November 29, 2015
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

Making America will be the first full-scale multimedia investigation of America’s most enduring cultural phenomenon—the Colonial Revival. Featuring approximately 200 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs, decorative arts, architectural and landscape designs, costumes, and popular culture ephemera—dating from the late 18th century to the present day—VMFA’s landmark exhibition expands the chronological and geographic boundaries of the regionally diverse, multicultural revival. More than just a style or movement, this ongoing hybrid impulse draws from the historical past to understand the present through the creative use of iconic forms and motifs. Making America will explore how and why this desire to revisit—and reinterpret—the past has shaped America’s visual landscapes, ideologies, and collective memories in times of celebration and crisis.

Making America, which will travel nationally, is organized by the curatorial team of University of Virginia Commonwealth Professor Dr. Richard Guy Wilson; Dr. Sylvia Yount, VMFA Chief Curator and Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art; and her museum colleagues Dr. Susan J. Rawles, Assistant Curator of American Decorative Art, and Christopher Oliver, Assistant Curator of American Art, all of whom will contribute to the accompanying scholarly catalogue.

Ongoing Special Exhibitions

Unreal: Conceptual Photographs from the 1970s and 80s
Through December 29, 2013
Free admission

Whether they ripped the photograph, distressed the negative, or painted on the surface of the print, many photographers in the 1970s and 80s intentionally disrupted the illusion of reality in their work, emphasizing the fragility of representation. Others left the picture intact, yet used obvious studio-set environments, in addition to costume and make-up, to reveal the construction of their photographic subjects. In either case, whether tearing-down or building-up, these photographers focused on the artificial nature of image-making itself. From Thomas Barrow’s fractured landscapes to Cindy Sherman’s theatrical singer, this exhibition pulls together more than 20 photographs from VMFA’s collection to highlight a particularly self-reflexive moment in late 20th-century art. It is curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Altria is the presenting sponsor.

Hollywood Costume
Through February 17, 2014
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

Organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Hollywood Costume explores the central role costume design plays in cinematic storytelling. Bringing together more than 100 of the most iconic movie costumes from across a century of filmmaking, the exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the clothes worn by unforgettable and beloved characters in films such as The Wizard of Oz, The Birds, My Fair Lady, Superman, Titanic, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and The Dark Knight Rises. The exhibition includes cinema costumes from private and archival collections in California, most never publicly displayed or seen beyond the secure walls of studio archives. In addition to premiering Hollywood Costume in the United States, VMFA is the only East Coast venue for the exhibition. Additional venues include the Phoenix Art Museum, March 26 – July 26, 2014.

Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation
Through March 10, 2014
Ticketed, VMFA members free

Complementing Hollywood Costume, this exhibition showcases more than 90 original vintage prints by the most important photographers working in Hollywood from 1920 to 1960. Selected from the Kobal Foundation collection in England, Made in Hollywood features portraits and still photography of some of the greatest stars during the golden age of filmmaking, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Swanson, and Clark Gable. The exhibition is organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Clare Leighton: From Pencil to Proof to Press
Through April 6, 2014
Free Admission

This display of more than 30 watercolors, prints, posters, porcelain, and books by the Anglo-American artist Clare Leighton (1898–1989) is drawn from a local and rarely seen private collection. Leighton occupied a central position in the Arts and Crafts revival of British wood engraving and its related developments in America. As the first woman to produce a book on the art of wood engraving, she played a key role in popularizing the medium. This exhibition complements a larger display of Leighton’s art at the University of Richmond’s Harnett Museum of Art. It features examples of Leighton’s early watercolors, posters for the London Transit, and wood engravings for novels by Thomas Hardy as well as volumes on southern and New England country life. It is organized for VMFA by Chief Curator and Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art Dr. Sylvia Yount

Catching Sight
Through July 13, 2014
Free admission
Accompanying catalogue

This exhibition sheds new light on a common but often overlooked aspect of British art—the Sporting Print. Featuring 120 works drawn primarily from VMFA’s Paul Mellon Collection, Catching Sight reveals the aesthetic sophistication and accomplishments of the genre. Highly sought-after during the 18th and 19th centuries, these prints endure as symbols of English culture. This exhibition takes an innovative approach to the subject by examining the works of art from both art-historical and aesthetic perspectives rather than simply as documents of the history of sport and rural culture. It is curated by Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art.

Permanent Collection on Tour

VMFA’s Fabergé Gallery is closed while the acclaimed collection is on tour. During this time, the gallery will be expanded to double its size, renovated and relit to allow visitors to experience the full range of the craftsmanship of Fabergé eggs, jewels, and other objects in this world-renowned collection. Upcoming venue: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec (May 26 – October 19, 2014).

VMFA Statewide Exhibition:
European Modern: Master Artists from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
William King Museum, Abingdon, Va., through January 5, 2014
Thirty-six works from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts have been selected for this extraordinary exhibition that spans generations of important European artists as they journeyed away from the defined edges of Neoclassicism and toward the uninhibited marks of the Modern Era.

VMFA Studio School Exhibitions:
The Costume Exhibition, through January 10, 2014
The Still Life, February 3 – 28, 2014
Recent Paintings (works by students of Sally Bowring) March 7 – April 11, 2014
Drawings & Paintings in Color (works by students of Sara Clark) April 18 – May 23, 2014
The Alchemy of Pots & Prints IX, June 2 – August 15, 2014

VMFA Pauley Center Exhibitions:
Perceptual Impressions: Analyzing the Urban Experience by Eli McMullen, through March 23, 2014

Amuse Restaurant & Claiborne Robertson Room Exhibitions:
The Water is Wide: paintings by Blade Wynne, through March 2, 2014

VMFA at Richmond International Airport:
Other Places: photographs by Mel Kobran, through February 23, 2014

NOTE: Exhibitions are subject to change. General admission to VMFA permanent collections is always free. Some special exhibitions require an admission fee, and members receive free admission to all ticketed exhibitions, as noted in each description.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary—and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European—VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program features traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit www.vmfa.museum.