The circus is coming to town! Toulouse-Lautrec’s XX, part of the Paul Mellon Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, ignites this visual presentation of art inspired by a trip to the circus. From masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Georges Seurat to vintage circus posters, no clowning around for this exploration of portraiture, graphic design, and more.Request Program
Speakers on the Arts
Archived Lectures. Some no longer available. Please visit the Statewide Faculty page for up-to-date listings.
VMFA Speakers on the Arts lectures are an excellent complement to programming at partner sites. They can also introduce new areas of art to Partner audiences and enhance community events and celebrations. A wide selection of topics and speakers is available for VMFA Statewide Partners. See Booking Speakers on the Arts for information about requesting a lecture.
Berthe Morisot and the Impressionist Image of Women
Berthe Morisot was a woman of extraordinary talents who carved a career for herself out of the male-dominated art world of 19th century Paris. She was one of only a few women who exhibited with both the Paris Salon and the highly influential and innovative Impressionists. Morisot’s art depicts the world of the bourgeoisie: their clothes, their lifestyle, their surroundings, and their relationships. Through her unusual talent, the modern viewer can see the essence of quotidian life for the rising middle class of 19th century Paris.Request Program
An Album of a Century: Photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue
French photographer and painter Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986) is most famous for his stunning photos of automobile races, planes, and fashionable Parisian women from the turn of the century. This lecture explores Lartigue’s photographs from his first sincere, often playful, presentation of friends, family, and French society made as early as age 6 to his later fashion layouts and portraits.Request Program
A Brilliant Disorder: The Works of William Blake
From his early visions as a child to his later prints and poems, Blake saw the world through the vivid lens of his personal theology. Influencing countless artists and writers, most of which worked long after his death, Blake’s imaginative genius still enthralls viewers today. Though most often known for his poetry and prose, Blake was also an accomplished artist, regarded as seminal and significant within the history of both art and literature. Focusing on his illuminations, prints, and paintings in the context of his personal and literary life, this lecture explores the life and work of William Blake, English poet, mystic, and artist.Request Program
Travels with George Catlin
George Catlin recorded for posterity the appearances and customs of the Indian tribes of North America. Between 1830 and 1836, Catlin made five trips to the American West. From his visits to 58 tribes, he produced 485 paintings and collected over seven tons of artifacts. These he exhibited in the United States and Europe as Catlin’s Indian Gallery. Throughout his life, Catlin struggled to keep the collection whole and pursued its acquisition by the newly created Smithsonian Institution. This lecture looks at Catlin’s life from his travels through the American West to the end of his career when, facing bankruptcy, he traveled to South America and rekindled his interest in painting and the scientific recording of Native American life.Request Program
The Duchamp Effect: Assemblage, Combines and Collage
Modern art changed forever with the French artist Marcel Duchamp’s submission ofFountain, a literal porcelain urinal, to the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. Inspired by the European Dada movement, Duchamp’s use of play, chance and everyday objects changed art-making in America. We will begin by exploring how Duchamp’s ideas were disseminated through American musician John Cage’s work. Then we will look at how Cagean aesthetics filtered into assemblage, combines and collage works of the 1950’s through 1970’s. We will consider examples from the VMFA’s permanent collection, including those by: Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, John Chamberlain, Richard Stankiewicx, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Wallace Berman, Arman, and Ed Ruscha.Request Program
Audio Visual: Music in Art
Enter the world of music in art! This visual presentation delves into the unique depictions of musicians, instruments, notes and musical ephemera in a variety of works and media. From Picasso’s framed collages to Man Rays iconic photographs, the audio has greatly influenced the visual in 20th century 2-D and 3-D works of art.Request Program
Why is that Art?
Looking at modern art can often be challenging. It always raises questions, even amongst the most knowledgeable viewers: What is an abstract painting “of”? How do you determine if something is “good”? A close look at the history of modern art, dating from roughly 1870 through 1950, demonstrates that the changes that occurred, chiefly that art became more abstract, were not arbitrary but rather developed along deliberate paths. Artists were not working in a vacuum but were responding to changes in technology like the development of photography, cultural moments like the industrial revolution and WWI and WWII, as well as the artists and movements that preceded them. Using works from VMFA’s collection, this chronological telling of important moments in modern art provides the context in which to answer questions like those above.Request Program
The Worlds of Nam June Paik and the Avant-Garde
Experience Nam June Paik’s global journey on his path to becoming the father of video art. Challenge the definition of art and discover the world of new media and performance. Explore technology’s role in art, society, and culture. See how to place the seemingly mundane on a pedestal while delving into the lives and practices of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Joseph Beuys, and other Fluxus artists.Request Program
Return to the Flame or Retreat from the Heat: The New Wheel Order
Two of Great Britain’s finest academic, ceramic art institutions recently closed their venerable, scholarly doors. Harrow Westminster and Camberwell, both in London, were hallowed ground for Twentieth Century potters and sculptors. Bernard Leach, Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Mick Casson and Katherine Pleydell-Bouvierie are only a few of the “sacred ghosts” that must wonder, from their graves, what happened. The same thing will happen in America if ceramic art educators lose awareness of what made the craft movement possible after the Second World War. The New Wheel Order is a restoration and expansion of the notion of function in ceramic art. It involves the consideration of optical warmth as well as optical worth and regards function beyond mere utility. It asks the question, “When does meaning occur,” that is to say the actual experience of art. Does this experience happen in the museum, gallery or the kitchen? There is so much careerism masquerading as education that the salient issues of Craft and Creativity are often elided right out of the conversation. The New Wheel Order is akin to Cezanne’s quest for the truth as he said, “Truth lies not in verisimilitude but in how things are.” VMFA Resident Potter Steven Glass will discuss these ideas and conduct a power point presentation of contemporary ceramic art.Request Program