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SAM Art: New, old masks

Identified as “Giant” by the collector, we can only imagine how the dancer would have revealed the nature of the formidable being—part man, part bird—portrayed in this mask. Naxnox masked dance performances dramatize prestigious names of supernatural beings, including “Giant,” that make up the pantheon of powerful spirits.

Masks exhibit the greatest range of sculptural variation of all Northwest Coast art forms. The diversity of mask types and their uses reflects the unique cultural beliefs and ceremonial traditions of each group. Five new masks, including this Naxnox mask, were recently added to the Native American art galleries.

Naxnox Mask, ca. 1900, Git’ksan, Kitwancool Village, British Columbia, red cedar, paint, 15 3/8 x 12 3/16 x 12 3/16 in., Gift of John H. Hauberg, 91.1.49. Now on view in the Native American art galleries, third floor, SAM Downtown.

SAM Art: A Gift to a City

Comprising works of art from China, Ghana, France, Egypt, Mexico, Bohemia, the Northwest Coast, the East Coast, and more, the Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection represents nearly one third of SAM’s collection. More than 7,500 works were added to the museum collection by Dr. Richard E. Fuller and his mother, Mrs. Eugene (Margaret MacTavish) Fuller—the museum founders who credited the husband and father (Dr. Eugene Fuller) whose wealth provided for the purchases.

While Dr. and Mrs. Fuller were connoisseurs of Asian art, they felt their personal taste was just a starting point—and not a limit—when collecting for a museum. They saw the museum as their gift to the city of Seattle, a gift which encompassed global collecting, and direct support of local artists. Today, works collected and donated by the Fullers are on view in every museum gallery.

This summer marks the 80th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum’s founding.  A Fuller View of China, Japan, and Korea, an exhibition exploring the Fullers’ collecting and gifts, opens in August at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Dr. Richard E. Fuller, co-founder and Director of the Seattle Art Museum, pictured in art storage in 1964, Photo: Paul V. Thomas, © Seattle Art Museum

SAM Art: Summer with a composer in the park

Art takes many forms, which all intersect at the Olympic Sculpture Park this summer. Join us for weekly art-making activities, “Art Hits” Tours, drawing classes, as well as dance parties, live music, food carts, yoga classes, and more. In addition to the programs and activities, you can also visit 25 works of art sited throughout the park.

The intersection of the arts is also apparent in one of the park’s works: Mark di Suvero’s Schubert Sonata. Franz Schubert, the sculpture’s namesake, completed hundreds of musical compositions before his untimely death in 1828, at 31 years of age. This sculpture, delicate and graceful despite its rough metal surface, is part of a series dedicated to great composers.

Schubert Sonata, 1992, Mark di Suvero (American, born Italian, in China, 1933), painted and unpainted steel, 22 ft. H; diameter of top element: 10 ft.; base: 6 ft. H, Gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, The Virginia Wright Fund, and Bagley Wright, 95.81, © Mark di Suvero. Currently on view in the Olympic Sculpture Park.

SAM Art: A legacy of friendship

In 1923, Alexander Archipenko arrived in America, already a highly acclaimed sculptor associated with the modern artists of Paris. In great demand as a teacher, he lectured at many institutions, including the University of Washington. He spent the summers of 1935 and 1936 in Seattle as a visiting professor at the University. It is likely that Archipenko created this sculpture while living and working in Seattle.

While in Seattle, Archipenko became friends with Dr. Richard E. Fuller, the founding Director of the Seattle Art Museum. It is because of this personal relationship that The Bride, an important work of cubist sculpture, was made available to the museum. Using his own funds, Dr. Fuller purchased the sculpture from his friend for the museum. It has been part of the museum collection ever since.

The Bride, 1936, Alexander Archipenko (American, born Ukraine, 1887-1964), terracotta on wood base, 34 1/4 x 6 11/16 x 4 3/4 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 36.64, © Alexander Archipenko. Currently on view in the American Modernism art galleries, third floor, SAM Downtown.

SAM Art: Quietly powerful

A gifted storyteller, Carrie Mae Weems creates arresting photographs that stage a cinematic narrative revealing a woman in a series of everyday scenarios, dramatically played out around a kitchen table. This woman is Weems herself, poignantly interpreting scenes from an invented love story. Weems takes as her subject the kitchen, the heart of a home, fleshing out the daily dramas that typically occur in this well-trafficked domestic space.

The new installation, In a Silent Way, presents images that quietly reflect on African American identities and histories. Alongside works by Roy DeCarava, David Hammons, Glenn Ligon and Rashid Johnson, four images from Carrie Mae Weems’ Kitchen Table  series are highlighted.

Untitled (Playing harmonica) from the Kitchen Table series, 1990/1999, Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953), gelatin silver print, 28 x 27 ¾ in., Gift of Vascovitz Family, 2012.13.1, © Carrie Mae Weems. Currently on view in In a Silent Way, Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Gallery, third floor, SAM Downtown.

SAM Art: A new look at an ancient tradition

A new installation in SAM’s Native American art galleries explores basketry and ceramics in Native communities of the American west, including this double spout vase made by Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez.

Beginning more than 2,000 years ago, pottery was made by early communities in the southwest, including the ancestors of the Pueblo peoples. Using clay from their homelands to fashion bowls, jars, canteens and figures, Pueblo potters developed distinctive styles that continue unchanged today. Double spout vases symbolizing the marital union were gifted at Pueblo weddings and, with the arrival of tourists in the 1880s, became popular collectors’ pieces. Matte-on-glossy designs were added by Julian after Maria constructed the vessel.

Double spout vase, early-mid-20th century, attributed to Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1879–1943), ceramic, 10 3/16 x 8 1/8 x 6 3/4 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.1946. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, third floor, SAM Downtown.

SAM Art: A lecture about a life

A lover of art, objects, far-flung lands, beautiful words, and adventure, Katherine C. White amassed one of the world’s premier private collections of African art. Upon her death, the collection of more than 2,000 objects came to the Seattle Art Museum, partially as a gift from Ms. White and her family, and partially as a purchase generously underwritten by the Boeing Corporation.

Ms. White’s life, travels, collection, and words will be the focus of Wednesday evening’s Curators Choice lecture for members.

 

Lectures, art installations, online content, and all SAM activities can only happen with the support and generosity of the Seattle community. Wednesday, 15 May is GiveBIG day, and we hope you will consider making a gift in support of SAM. All contributions made to Seattle Art Museum through GiveBIG today will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000, thanks to a generous challenge grant from Jeff and Susan Brotman.

Members Art History Lecture Series: Katherine White: Her Epic Quest to Collect a Continent

Curator’s Choice with Pam McClusky
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
7–8:30 pm
Plestcheeff Auditorium, SAM Downtown

Male and Female Figures, 20th century, African, Côte d’Ivoire, Kulango, wood, leather, beads, white chalk, 38 x 5 1/2 x 5 in. and 32 1/4 x 5 x 4 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.225.1-2. Currently on view in the African art galleries, fourth floor, SAM Downtown.

SAM Art: Shining, shimmering gold

Gold has been a shimmering presence in art across cultures and time. When the first metals were unearthed by humans around 5000 b.c., gold was valued for its rarity and lustrous color. Ancient Egyptians believed that gold was the skin of the gods, and for Greeks, gold was a mixture of water and sunlight. Gold is mentioned in the Bible as one of the gifts from the Magi to an infant Jesus. The Peruvian Incas referred to gold as “tears of the Sun.” In China, gold was the color of emperors and today is a symbol of good luck. In Japan, gold was associated with the ruling class and represented the color of the heavens.

A new group of textiles, including in this Japanese brocade kimono, has been installed in Going for Gold this week. This focused show, drawn from the museum’s collections, looks at gold’s use and significance across cultures.

Ceremonial wedding kimono, 3rd quarter 20th century, Japanese, silk brocade with gold thread embroidery (couching), overall 73 ½ x 51 ¼ in., Gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, 95.77. Currently on view in Going for Gold, third floor, SAM Downtown.