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SAM Art: Back from summer break!

E Pluribus Unum, 1942, Mark Tobey, American, 1890 – 1976, opaque watercolor on paper mounted on paperboard, 19 3/4 x 27 1/4 in., Gift of Mrs. Thomas D. Stimson, 43.33, © Mark Tobey / Seattle Art Museum. Now on view in Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical, fourth floor, Seattle Art Museum.

E Pluribus Unum, 1942, Mark Tobey, American, 1890 – 1976, opaque watercolor on paper mounted on paperboard, 19 3/4 x 27 1/4 in., Gift of Mrs. Thomas D. Stimson, 43.33, © Mark Tobey / Seattle Art Museum. Now on view in Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical, fourth floor, Seattle Art Museum.

This week, we are embracing the end of summer with the coming of Labor Day, the return of NFL football, and the end of Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical.

Our Super Bowl champion Seahawks return to The CLink in their season opener on Thursday. Whether you’re cheering from the stands or from your living room, stop by the Seattle Art Museum before the game to see Modernism before it closes. The stunning collection of Northwest masters is only on view through Sunday, September 7.

SAM Art: Lailat al’Miraj

Muhammad's Ascent to Heaven (Miraj), 16th century, Persian (modern Iran), Safavid period (1501-1722), opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 9 3/16 x 5 3/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 47.96. Not currently on view, but accessible online (link below).

Muhammad’s Ascent to Heaven (Miraj), 16th century, Persian (modern Iran), Safavid period (1501-1722), opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 9 3/16 x 5 3/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 47.96. Not currently on view, but accessible online (link below).

A prophet enters an ancient holy place, where he is met by angels. They present him with a gift, a horse with wings who immediately flies the man to a faraway place. Here, the man and winged horse leap into the air, and ascend to heaven itself. The prophet speaks with God. When they come back down to earth, the man dismounts the horse armed with one cornerstone of a faith. Lailat al’Miraj, celebrated this week by Muslims around the world, commemorates this journey, and the prophet Muhammad’s return to earth with the knowledge that God wants Muslims to pray five times daily (Salat).

The story behind the holiday provided inspiration to artists in earlier eras, who often illustrated it as a frontispiece to volumes of the Khamseh, five epics by the Persian poet Nizami. While figures are forbidden from religious settings, illustrating this journey within books of secular sagas proved popular for centuries across the Islamic world.

SAM Art: Consider the figure

Male standing figure, 20th century, Tanzanian, Nyamwezi/Sukuma culture, wood, natural pigments, cloth, height: 26 in., Gift of Dr. Oliver E. and Pamela F. Cobb, in honor of Mark Groudine, 2012.28.21, Photo: Elizabeth Mann. On view beginning 24 May, African art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

Male standing figure, 20th century, Tanzanian, Nyamwezi/Sukuma culture, wood, natural pigments, cloth, height: 26 in., Gift of Dr. Oliver E. and Pamela F. Cobb, in honor of Mark Groudine, 2012.28.21, Photo: Elizabeth Mann. On view beginning 24 May, African art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

If only we could hear the songs that once surrounded this figure! Distinctively long limbed sculptures like this were never seen in quiet spaces, but in the middle of stirring tornados of dance and song. This figure may originally have been dressed, but is now able to show off a lean angular stance that is near, but not exactly, symmetrical.

This figure, as well as other recent acquisitions of African art, goes on view in a new installation starting on May 24.

SAM Art: An old new thing

Jingdezhen ware saucer, Chinese, Ming dynasty (reign of the Wan Li emperor, 1573-1619), porcelain with decoration in underglaze-blue, overglaze-enamels, height 1 in., diameter 5 7/16 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 51.90. On view beginning 30 April, Chinese art galleries, Asian Art Museum.

Jingdezhen ware saucer, Chinese, Ming dynasty (reign of the Wan Li emperor, 1573-1619), porcelain with decoration in underglaze-blue, overglaze-enamels, height 1 in., diameter 5 7/16 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 51.90. On view beginning 30 April, Chinese art galleries, Asian Art Museum.

For the first time in a decade, these three figures are catching a glimpse of Seattle.

This saucer, last displayed in the early 2000s, shows three men in a garden, their idyllic setting framed by a pine tree, a mountain, and a stream. This newly on view saucer is, in fact, quite old: it was made during the Ming dynasty, in the reign of the Wan Li emperor (1573-1619).

There is always something new (or old) to discover at the Asian Art Museum. This week, look for recently installed ceramics and textiles in the Chinese art galleries.

SAM Art: Quick! Before it’s too late!

A Fuller view of China, Japan and Korea, the museum’s celebration of our Asian art collection closes this weekend. See the Hell of Shrieking Sounds, Deer Scroll, Crows Screen, and other favorites before they disappear from our galleries. Before they go, make sure you see the stunning Hell of Shrieking Sounds scroll, which relates a Buddhist sutra on the different representations of hell. The inscription on the SAM scroll reads, in part:

“…there is a place called the Shrieking Sound Hell. The inmates of this place are those who in the past, while human beings, …[failed] to conduct themselves properly and having no kindness in their hearts, they beat and tortured beasts.”

(Translation by Mr. K. Tomita for the Seattle Art Museum)

Segment of the Hell Scroll: Hell of Shrieking Sounds, ca. 1200, Japanese, Heian period (794 – 1185), handscroll; ink and color on paper, 10 3/8 x 25 3/4 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 48.172. On view until Sunday, 13 April, at the Asian Art Museum.

SAM Art: Flowers by an expert

Victoria Dubourg was trained as a portrait painter and met her future husband, the celebrated portraitist and still-life painter Henri Fantin-Latour, while both were copying paintings at the Louvre. Like her husband—and many women artists before her—she specialized in flower still lifes. This exquisite study of crisp paperwhites against a plain brown ground shows both formal restraint and compositional precision.

In the new installation, France: Inside and Out, landscapes, domestic interiors, and decorative arts invite us to think about the different worlds of men and women in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This painting by Dubourg represents the beginning of broader opportunities for women that were to come.

Narcissus, late 19th-early 20th century, Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour (French, 1840–1926), oil on canvas, 11 x 12 3/8 in., Gift of the Seattle Garden Club, 59.123. Currently on view in France: Inside and Out, fourth floor, Seattle Art Museum.

SAM Art: Visions of Cathay

As global trade increased in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Europeans became enthralled with visions of Cathay, as China was popularly known. Chinoiserie, the ornamentation featured on this tapestry, is an enchanting decorative motif depicting imaginary and whimsical interpretations of life in Asia. An eighteenth-century European concept, chinoiseries typically present exotic figures clothed in flowing robes and elaborate headdresses, and situated in fantastical landscape settings. Whether these figures represent people of China, India, the Middle East, or Japan is often difficult to determine; they are a mélange of peoples referring not to geographical and cultural boundaries so much as to a general concept of Asia.

Altar of the Three Buddhas (detail), commissioned in 1717, Judocus de Vos (Flemish, Brussels, 1661-1734), wool, silk, metallic threads, 105 1/2 x 85 1/16 in., Gift of Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Endowment for the Decorative Arts, Anonymous, General Acquisition Fund, Mildred King Dunn, Richard and Betty Hedreen, Decorative Arts Acquisition Fund, Margaret Perthou-Taylor, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, Ann Bergman and Michael Rorick, Mr. and Mrs. David E. Maryatt, 2002.38.1. Now on view in the European art galleries, fourth floor, Seattle Art Museum.

SAM Art: Lecture tonight

Bronze abides forever. That idea changed the course of Frederic Remington’s career, and shaped the work of Alexander Phimister Proctor.

Frederic Remington was in his day and remains now the most famous painter and illustrator of the western cowboy. His early adventures in the far west introduced him to the Mexican vaqueros, admiring their derring-do as they fought to tame wild horses, the bronchos, and had done for generations. The Broncho Buster was displayed for years in the window of Tiffany & Co. in New York, where Gilded Age admirers eagerly ordered casts of Remington’s masterly vaquero.

A westerner by birth, Alexander Phimister Proctor earned an international reputation as one of the most accomplished sculptors of his generation. Animals became a specialty: Heroic horse and rider monuments by Proctor can be found from Portland, OR to New York, NY.

Buckaroo and other works by Alexander Phimister Proctor are currently on view in the American art galleries at SAM. Also on view (as a Super Bowl loan from the Denver Art Museum) is The Broncho Buster by Frederic Remington. Learn about both works  in today’s members art history lecture.

Members Art History Lecture Series:
Curator’s Choice with Patricia Junker
Buckaroos in Bronze
March 19, 2014
7–8:30 pm
Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum

Buckaroo, modeled 1914, cast initially 1915, Alexander Phimister Proctor (American, 1862-1950), bronze, Phimister and Sally Church.
The Broncho Buster, modeled 1895, cast before May 1902, Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909), bronze, Roman Bronze Works, cast number 12, Denver Art Museum; The Roath Collection, 2013.91.
Currently on view in the American art galleries, third floor, Seattle Art Museum.

SAM Art: Glass is back!

Glass Art at SAM

The Northwest is known the world over for its association with the studio glass movement. With the Pilchuck Glass School and the studios of such luminaries as Preston Singletary, Ginny Ruffner, and Dale Chihuly, western Washington is a hotbed for glass art. See great examples of work by artists associated with Pilchuck in a new installation at the Seattle Art Museum, opening on March 8.

Cadmium Yellow Venetian #84, 1989, Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941), blown glass, 28 x 19 x 12 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection and gift of the Estate of Mark Tobey, by exchange, 90.28, © Dale Chihuly. On view in the modern and contemporary art galleries, third floor, Seattle Art Museum.