exhibition catalogues

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Joan of Arc’s Ring, 15th Century AD

The ring is unusual for its type in having text rather than an image of saints on its faceted bezel. It matches the description Joan gave at her trial of the ring given to her by her parents, and is inscribed ‘I M’ for ‘Jesus Maria’. This ring sold at auction for £297,600.00.

The ring’s connection to St. Joan, who was burnt at the stake in 1431 for heresy, has been documented for over a century, and was published by F.A. Harman Oates in his privately printed catalogue of 1917. It was kept in an oak reliquary casket and was sold with a book of excerpts from national newspapers in Britain and France, as well as research notes compiled by Cyril Bunt in the 1940s, the BBC features on the ring and exhibition catalogues.

This week’s #tbt looks back at a major exhibition of works by celebrated African American artist Romare Bearden, which opened at MoMA in 1971. It grew, in part, out of demands made by the Art Workers Coalition (AWC), an activist organization that advocated for New York City museums to improve their ethical relationship to artists and to the public. They argued that museums should improve public access by waiving admission fees and implement more inclusive exhibition policies to encourage shows by women and minorities. In 1969, the AWC submitted a list of demands to MoMA, including that a “section of the Museum, under the direction of black artists, should be devoted to showing the accomplishments of black artists.” MoMA’s Board of Trustees recommended that the institution embrace a more inclusive approach to collecting, exhibiting, and public programming, and the Bearden exhibition was one of the first outcomes of this recommendation. See images of the installation, read the out-of-print exhibition catalogue, and more. 22 of #52exhibitions

[Romare Bearden. The Dove. 1964. Cut-and-pasted printed paper, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil on board. Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund. Photo: Thomas Griesel]

From: Arti visive. Poesia visiva / Visual Poetry by Women, an International Exhibition in Venice, Organized by Mirella Bentivoglio, Studio d’Arte Contemporanea, Roma, 1976. With Annalisa Alloatti, Irma Blank, Paul Claire, Lia Drei, Ulrike Eberle, Anna Esposito, Amelia Etlinger, Gisela Frankenberg, Ilse Garnier, Boumila Grogerova, Ana Hatherly, Annalies Klophaus, Liliana Landi, Giulia Niccolai, Anna Oberto, Anezia Pacheco e Chaves, Marguerite Pinney, Betty Radin, Giovanna Sandri, Mira Schendel, Mary Ellen Solt, Chima Sunada, Salette Tavares, Biljana Tomic, Patrizia Vicinelli

Photography 1839–1937

#tbt to MoMA’s first photography show, Photography 1839–1937, organized three years prior to the establishment of the Department of Photography. This ambitious, sweeping exhibition was the most comprehensive ever to be held in the US. More than 800 photographs, from the earliest Daguerrotypes to contemporary works by Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Brassaï and others, filled four floors of the Museum. In the accompanying catalogue, curator Beaumont Newhall, who would go on to become the first director of MoMA’s Department of Photography, revealed the exhibition’s guiding question: “Even at the risk of falling into philosophical quagmires,” he wrote, “the question, ‘Is photography art?’ cannot be ignored.” Both the exhibition and Newhall’s catalogue essay explored this issue by examining the history of photography both as an art and as a means of communication, taking into account the entire purview of the medium.

Read the out-of-print catalogue, see installation views, and more at mo.ma/2omZxtu. 31 of #52exhibitions

At home with Phryne Fisher: now you see it, now you see it again Pt 13

Marion had the silk cardigan fabric and when she started designing for Phryne this was the first time she wanted to cut it up.” 

(MFMM Costume Exhibition catalogue, 2014)  

Phryne’s beautiful, soft silk knit long line cardigan is for ‘at home’. She wears it over cream silk faille pants or raw silk skirt together with cream silk blouses of various necklines and collars -  tie, mandarin, v-neck, round, roll, cowl and boat necks. She accessorises it with a long scarf with gold thread that follows the line of the cardigan, or a green silk chiffon brooch. Phryne looks relaxed and casual but elegant and stylish to entertain, and interrogate!

Right from the first episode, home sitting rooms double as investigation rooms. In Series 1 Episode 1 Cocaine Blues, headache powders are suspected of being laced with cocaine  - Phryne confirms the doctor’s opinion.

Phryne: Definitely cocaine.

Mac: I’m the doctor.

Phryne: Just to make sure.

Jack learns early on that he needs to find a place in the St Kilda incident rooms if his cases are to run smoothly. In Murder on the Ballarat Train an offer of tea precedes an offer of evidence.  This time a green ‘sea anemone’ silk chiffon brooch augments the outfit.

Phryne: Morning, Inspector. I was just on my way to see you. 

Jack: To explain yourself, I hope. 

Phryne: Tea? 

Jack: I can’t believe your hide. Appropriating a child who should have been in the care of the state. 

Phryne: State care? You know what those places are like. And if that woman was Jane’s aunt, I’ll eat my cloche. The poor child clearly loathed her. 

Jack: None of this explains how that ‘poor child’ came to be in possession of Mrs Henderson’s jewels, or what she had to do with the murder. 

Phryne: It’s lucky for you I convinced Jane she should speak with you. Come in, Jane!

And from her own home to another’s in The Green Mill Murder, the cream and gold accessories blend seamlessly with the Freeman’s decor.  The Freemans are a family in crisis - societal prejudice and family secrets lead to confrontation and tension as Phryne finds ways to solve and absolve.

Death By Miss Adventure supports a similar theme of bigotry as the episode reopens wounds for Phryne with the reappearance of Murdoch Foyle, and Mac hides her own wounds  - ironic for a doctor.  Mac finds it difficult to open up to her closest friend, even in the comfort of her parlour.

Aunt P voices society’s intolerance of difference in a visit to Phryne’s home to warn her of the hospital board’s view of Dr Mac’s ‘unconventional activities’. The setting and Phryne’s outfit are in parallel for both conversations.

Narrow views of women’s place in society, with car racing as a metaphor, provoke reactions from Phryne in Blood at the Wheel. Her parlour and the cream outfit with green sea anemone silk chiffon brooch, play host to meetings with two men, one immediately after the other, Lachlan Pepper from the VAA and Jack.

Pepper comes to Phryne’s home to ensure she cannot race in place of Gerty Haynes. He dismisses suggestions of race fixing, is offhand at the mention of past attachments and perfunctory in his manner.

Pepper: You women are all the same. 

Phryne: I’m quite sure we aren’t. 

Pepper: Ah, no, your threats are wasted on me, Miss Fisher. Your driving offences are on the record. My hands are tied… Good evening to you too, Miss Fisher.

Wheels within wheels as the confrontation with Pepper is immediately followed by a quieter dissonance between Phryne and Jack.   At this point Jack is unable to express the depth of his feelings for her, and she is so distracted by the case that she misreads the reasons for his dark mood and disquiet. 

Phryne: Did you follow up on Antony’s story? 

Jack: The girl can’t be found, but the manager of the York Street Hotel thinks Mr Rose checked in. 

Phryne: Hardly watertight. 

Jack: No, but I can’t question him again without further evidence. 

Phryne: But you could question our friend Pepper. See what comes to light. 

Jack: I intend to. I’ll see myself out. 

And so ends one of the most devastating scenes in the show (IMHO).

Thank goodness the cardigan makes another appearance and I don’t have to end the post at this point.  Dead Air has the cardigan and cream accessories playing host in Phryne’s parlour to interviews and evidence sharing again. 

First to the all-too-helpful Jimmy Creswick:

Phryne: While you’re here, I would like a quiet word about Louisa. 

Creswick: Of course.

And then to Jack/Archie.  Here again we have mirroring of setting and outfits as in Miss Adventure and Wheel, but on this occasion the chord struck between Phryne and 'Archie’ is anything but dissonant.


Jack: Who told Hazel Creswick I should diversify into singing? 

Phryne: I’m not sure, but it certainly is a wonderful suggestion. 

Jack: I’m glad my feeble undercover attempt provides you with amusement. 

Phryne: I look for joy in all the dark places, Archie. 

I think Archie quite likes the thought of the dark places.  

Don’t we all!

3

-Sixteen Araki Books from 2016-


8.  Araki Nobuyoshi  
(Editions Gallimard / Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet)

This exhibition catalogue is one of the better foreign-printed Araki books of the past decade. The selection of work from Araki’s many series is well done and in many instances, uncropped or unencumbered by the gutters of the books the pictures originally appeared in. In addition to putting Araki’s Theater Of Love series from the 1960s into print for the second time, it also includes essays comparing the themes of the photographer’s work with early Japanese photographic history (image 3). 

The only downside for a guy like me who suddenly wishes he paid more attention in his high school French class is that they are all written in, well, French. An English translation would have been great but the pictures shown speak for themselves.  

Tamoto Kenzō 田本研造, A Cat of Karafuto (Karafuto no neko), albumen print, ca. 1870s. Shashin hyakunen: Nihonjin ni yoru shashin hyōgen no rekishi ten (Exhibition Catalogue of the Centennial Exhibition of the History of Japanese Photographic Expression), Tokyo: Nihon Shashinka Kyōkai 1968, n.p.

4 Books on Latin American and Latino art
A Shelfie from Selene Preciado, Program Assistant

Hi, I’m Selene Preciado, program assistant at the Getty Foundation. Outside of my work at the Getty, I am an independent curator of Latin American and Latino art.

In anticipation of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, this selection of books is inspired by the initiative’s effort on advancing the fields of Latin American and Latino art history by promoting their dialogue, as these are often perceived as separate fields of study albeit sharing narratives and historical contexts. One of the strongest points of convergence between the two fields is in the strategies of conceptual artists, particularly in arte de acción or performance, which has been a significant area of production in the Americas since the sixties. 

PST: LA/LA exhibitions such as the Armory’s Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico; the Hammer’s Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985; or Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., organized by ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, as well as the highly anticipated performance art festival organized by REDCAT (January 2018) will include performance artists from across Latin America, the United States, and other diasporas.

1. “Arte No es Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas, 1960-2000,” by Deborah Cullen. (El Museo del Barrio, 2008).

This exhibition catalogue for Arte No es Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas at El Museo del Barrio is one of the most comprehensive compilations on performance art by Latino and Latin American artists, and it includes a detailed chronology of the most important actions since 1957 until the year 2000. The exhibition was also a curatorial laboratory for exploring the problem of exhibiting performance—a time-based medium—through documentation, video, ephemera, and objects.

2. “ASCO: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972–1987,” by C. Ondine Chavoya and Rita Gonzalez. (Hatje Cantz, 2011).

This 432-page tome is the most important document on the East Los Angeles collective ASCO (1972–1987), produced on the occasion of the major retrospective organized as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980 in 2011. But don’t let its girth intimidate you—the exhibition catalogue is very dynamic, fully illustrated, and contains about twenty essays of different lengths and topics, such as ASCO’s walking murals, collaborations, or “No-movies,” as well as a section on documents and extensive bibliographic information.  

3. “Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas,” by Coco Fusco. (Routledge, 1999).

This book was edited by theorist, curator, and artist Coco Fusco, whose work since the 1980s has explored postcolonial, gender, and race issues. Corpus Delecti is an excellent resource and one of the very first performance art surveys that bridged together regions and movements by including art from Latin American, Chicana/o, and Caribbean artists, as well as genres that blurred the lines between fine arts, theater, vaudeville, and staged political protest.  

4. “MEX/LA: ‘Mexican’ Modernism(s) in Los Angeles, 1930-1985,” by Rubén Ortiz-Torres and Jesse Lerner. (Hatje Cantz, 2011).

Like ASCO: Elite of the Obscure, this catalogue was published in conjunction with the groundbreaking exhibition MEX/LA, part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980, and organized by the Museum of Latin American Art. Just like the exhibition, this catalogue is an unconventional and thought-provoking approach to telling the story of the relationship between Mexico and Los Angeles. 

Departing from forked origins—from the mythological location of Aztlán, the founding of L.A. as a “Latin American city” (since it was Mexican territory back in 1781), to the presence of Mexican muralists in the 1930s who ignited local production—it visits chapters in L.A.’s history that explore exchange, remix, appropriation, and ongoing negotiations of race, class, and gender. Through the work of Chicana/o artists like ASCO, Barbara Carrasco, Yolanda López, and Ricardo Valverde, as well as Americans such as Wallace Berman, the Eames, or Millard Sheets, MEX/LA pushed boundaries also in exhibition making. Its non-chronological, non-thematic approach consisted in connecting artists and artworks through ideas.

While this book doesn’t solely focus on performance art, the MEX/LA catalogue might be the unifying thread of this list, in that it offers a critical view on hybrid and shifting identities as performative constructs. You only have to take a look into the performativity of figures such as Robert Stacy-Judd, the Zoot Suiters (a counterculture of the 1930s–40s), or even the borrowed Maya elements in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright—all included in the particular universe of MEX/LA. The concepts explored in the exhibition and catalogue of MEX/LA are part of the origin story of what is now Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.