All posts in “Hank Willis Thomas”

Object of the Week: #10

As part of the For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative put on by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, we’re contextualizing works in SAM’s collection within today’s political atmosphere. The program is inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

For this week’s post, we’re focusing on freedom from fear by looking at Frederic Edwin Church’s A Country Home painted in 1854, just seven years before the American Civil War. The painting illustrates an idyllic landscape, lush with vegetation and a tranquil pond. The mood is calm and serene with the sun casting a warm, comforting glow. Church, a member of the Hudson River School, paints the American landscape as a modern-day Eden. The artist’s view of his time and place is one of optimism, hope, and contentment.

 

As we compare Church’s work to Mark Rothko’s abstraction #10, painted in 1952, the differences couldn’t be greater. Rothko’s work was completed just 98 years after A Country Home, but during this period humanity witnessed two world wars (the second of which perhaps had the greatest impact on the views of artists). How much did their views of America change, as well as the times they lived in? After the horrors of World War II, how could one paint idyllic landscapes? Yet, even though freedom won the War, fear persevered—the ugly side of the human race was exposed. As a result, art turned abstract and humanity collectively wept.

So this brings us to today: even if divisiveness, racism, and hatred are overcome, what lasting effect will these times have on our art and how we view our time and place? If equality, respect, and compassion win politically, will we still be free from fear? Or is it too late and have we already exposed the darker sides of ourselves?

– Manish Engineer, SAM Chief Technology Officer

Images:
#10, 1952, Mark Rothko, oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 42 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (207.65 x 107.95 x 5.72 cm), Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, 91.98, © Artist or Artist’s Estate. A Country Home, 1854, Frederic Edwin Church, oil on canvas, 32 x 51 in. (81.3 x 129.5 cm.), Gift of Anna Robeson Baker Carmichael, 65.80.
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Muse/News: A dazzling assembly, fantasy as a tool, and experiencing “experiences”

SAM News

Thump! That’s the happy sound of The New York Times fall arts preview hitting doorsteps. SAM’s major fall exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, was featured in their round-up of “Over 100 Not-to-Miss Shows From East Coast to West.” The show traveling from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust was dubbed “a dazzling assembly.”

Peacock in the Desert opens October 18; it was also a Seattle Times pick for one of the “hottest Seattle events for October” and is among The Seattle Weekly’s choices for “the best entertainment the season has to offer” for fall arts.

Local News

Think tiny! Curbed’s Sarah Anne Lloyd shares that the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture has posted an RFP for “tiny cultural spaces.” Applications are due on Friday, October 14.

Seek help: Here’s two reviews on the Frye Art Museum’s current exhibition, Group Therapy, from Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne and Seattle Weekly’s Seth Sommerfeld.

The October issue of City Arts is out now, with features on writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and poet Quenton Baker—and a blazing cover story on Double Exposure artist Tracy Rector.

“Rector’s ability to seduce through stories is the stuff of hallowed auteurs. But it’s her ability to vanish behind the story that makes her work so enthralling. Fantasy doesn’t always have to be an escape; rather a tool to reframe and change the world.”

Inter/National News

Yay for art history majors: When Denise Murrell’s professor ignored the Black servant in Édouard Manet’s Olympia, she made it her thesis subject—and it’s now an exhibition at Columbia that will travel to Paris’ Musée d’Orsay.

Five design proposals for a planned Boston monument to Marin Luther King, Jr. are now before the citizens of the city; the finalists are Barbara Chase-Riboud, David Adjaye, Hank Willis Thomas, Yinka Shonibare, and Wodiczko.

The New York Times’ “internet culture” writer Amanda Hess with a hilarious and haunting take on the now-ubiquitous pop-up “experiences” and what, exactly, they’re for.

“What began as a kicky story idea became a masochistic march through voids of meaning. I found myself sleepwalking through them, fantasizing about going to a real museum. Or watching television. Or being on Twitter.”

And Finally

Articles with titles like “Favorite Snacks of Famous Artists” will always get an instant click from me.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Maharaja Abhai Singh on Horseback, c. 1725, Dalchand, Jodhpur, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Mehrangarh Museum Trust, photo: Neil Greentree.
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