Joseph Nicoletti, Alex Katz, and Mary Hart
from the Norton Museum of Art
From February 4 through June 6, 2010, the Portland Museum of Art will present Objects of Wonder: Four Centuries of Still Life from the Norton Museum of Art, an exhibition comprised of more than 50 works of art in various media. The exhibition will feature artists as well known as they are diverse, including Gustave Courbet, Henri Matisse, William Harnett, Marsden Hartley, Edward Weston, Marc Chagall, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and Robert Mapplethorpe. There are exquisite Old Master paintings, Cubist masterpieces, iconic photographs by American modernists, Pop Art classics, and a fascinating array of three-dimensional works, all of which challenge traditional notions of what is meant by the term "still life." The Portland Museum of Art is the only New England venue for this exhibition.
A still life in its most basic terms is the depiction of an arrangement of inanimate objects, including most often, but not limited to-flowers, fruit, tableware, books, newspapers, and musical instruments. Still-life works celebrate the significance of even the most mundane aspects of our daily existence. The function of a still life may be straightforward representation or the artist may intend to convey a more subtle, moral message. For example, cut flowers, a snuffed-out candle, or signs of decay in fruit and other food represent the transience of life and are meant to remind viewers of their own mortality. As Pierre Skira, author of Still Life: A History, described: "All that can be swallowed, munched, sucked, drunk, or chewed, finds grace therein. [The still life] displays, probes, investigates the heart of the fruit, the smoothness and coarseness of skins, the harshness of tastes…and the abandonment of bodies. It subscribes to the wet and to the dry, to full, pregnant, or drawn-and-quartered, eviscerated forms."
This exhibition demonstrates the extent to which the genre continues to engage and inspire artists-from Old Masters to Maine masters. Grounded in seemingly unadventurous subject matter, the genre has become a vehicle for artists to take risks and to develop new visual strategies. Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Roy Lichtenstein, Charles Sheeler, and Walt Kuhn, among other European and American masters represented in this exhibition, transform the commonplace into objects of wonder and desire.
Along with the Norton Museum of Art’s selections, the exhibition will include numerous examples of still life from the Portland Museum of Art’s collection as well as from private lenders. Paintings and works on paper by Maine artists Joseph Nicoletti, Alex Katz, and Mary Hart will be interspersed with the Norton’s works of art within the galleries. These juxtapositions will allow us to view our works in new contexts and to discover intriguing parallels. In addition, embedded within the exhibition will be an interactive "cabinet of curiosities"-a cabinet, which not only displays unique decorative art objects from the Museum’s collection, but will also allow visitors to create and sketch their own still-life arrangements.
This exhibition is organized by the Norton Museum of Art, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, and founded by philanthropist and businessman Ralph Norton and his wife in 1941. Together they collected hundreds of works of art. At his death in 1953, he left a bequest of 253 works of art, many of which are featured in this exhibition. The Portland Museum of Art is the first venue on the exhibition’s traveling tour. After Maine, the exhibition travels to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama (July 3 through October 10, 2010) and to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee (October 16, 2010 through January 9, 2011).
This exhibition was organized by the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida.
Media support is provided by WCSH 6 and Mainebiz
Image: Daniel Seghers, A Garland of Pink Roses…, oil on canvas, 17 x 20 1/2 inches, Norton Museum of Art. Gift of Valerie Delacorte in memory of George T. Delacorte, Publisher and Philanthropist
For media inquiries, please contact:
Kristen Levesque - Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Seven Congress Square Portland, Maine 04101 (207) 775-6148 ext. 3223 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Portland Museum of Art is located at Seven Congress Square in downtown Portland.
The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. Memorial Day through Columbus Day, the Museum is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Museum admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with I.D., $4 for youth ages 6 to 17, and children under 6 are free. The Museum is free on Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Museum Cafe and Store.