Archived Press Releases

Exhibition Featuring Major American
Artist William H. Johnson to Open at the University of Pennsylvania’s
Arthur Ross Gallery

A new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) will feature rare paintings by William H. Johnson, from the collection of the James E. Lewis Museum at Morgan State University. An essential figure in modern American art, William H. Johnson (1901-1970) was a virtuoso skilled in various media and techniques, and produced thousands of works over a career that spanned decades, continents and genres.
“William H. Johnson: An American Modern” will be on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania from January 18 – March 23, 2014 . It will then continue on a 10-city tour through 2014. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation and Morgan State University Foundation Inc.
The pivotal stages of Johnson’s career as a modernist painter are assembled in this group of rarely seen paintings. Every step of his artistic development is conveyed—from his post-impressionist and expressionist works of the 1920s, to vibrant vernacular paintings from the end of his career in the 1940s, in which Johnson articulated his distinctive, unforgettable vision as an American modern artist.
The paintings boast a remarkable history. In 1956 the Harmon Foundation, a nonprofit that helped foster awareness of African art from 1922 until its demise in 1967, took ownership of Johnson’s own collection of art—saving it all from being destroyed. When the foundation had to shut its doors, they donated more than 1,000 works to the Smithsonian’s National Collections of Fine Arts (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum). The terms of the agreement called for the Smithsonian to donate artworks to several black colleges and universities, including Morgan State University. The founding chair of Morgan’s art department, James E. Lewis, was first to carefully select these works for his museum’s permanent collection.
The exhibition is complemented by an illustrated companion book William H. Johnson: An American Modern (University of Washington Press, 2011) with essays by Richard J. Powell, Leslie King Hammond and others. The book features some of the world’s premier scholars of Johnson and African American art history re-examining the artist and presenting him in new, fresh ways.


Related Events:

All events are Free and open to the public
Friday, January 17, 4:00 PM Gallery Tour, Dejáy B. Duckett Associate Director and Associate Curator, Arthur Ross Gallery

Friday, January 17, 5:30 PM Opening Reception, jazz performance and the world
premier of the William H. Johnson Suite composed and performed by Dr. Guthrie Ramsey and MusiQology. Co-sponsored by the Center for Africana Studies.

Thursday, January 30, 5:30 PM Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University and
Dr. Guthrie P. Ramsey, University of Pennsylvania celebrate their new books Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities and The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and The Challenge of Bebop. They will be in conversation with eminent cultural critic Greg Tate.

Wednesday, February 12, 5:30 PM
Free concert by Mimi Stillman and the Dolce Suono Ensemble.

Thursday, February 13, 6:30-9:30 PM Valentine’s Throwback Thursday:
An evening of food, drink, jazz, and swing dancing
Exclusively for Penn students.

Tuesday, March 4, 5:30 PM
Abdi Farah, Artist Talk Penn Alumnus and Winner of the first season of Bravo Network’s “Work of Art: Next Great Artist.”

Friday, March 21, 2014, 5:30 PM
Lecture, “William H. Johnson: Modernist Master of New World Realities”
Dr. Leslie King Hammond, Graduate Dean Emerita & Founding Director, Center for Race and Culture Maryland Institute College of Art.

Additional support for the exhibition and related programming is provided by the Arthur Ross Exhibition Fund, Mrs. Arthur Ross, Mr. George Gillespie, the Patron’s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Center for Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Art

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Auguste Rodin: The Human Experience, Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections opens on Saturday, August 17 at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania. This exhibition of 20 exceptional bronzes has been organized and is made possible with the assistance of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation has organized more than 12 exhibitions on Rodin that have been seen by more than ten million people in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States. More than 500 works from the Cantor Collections have been given to 90 museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. An additional Rodin bronze, Jean d’Aire, is lent from the University of Pennsylvania Art Collection.

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is recognized as one of the greatest sculptors since Michelangelo. His pioneering work deconstructed the body as fragments, or partial figures that reveal human vitality, pathos, and beauty. His impressionistic modeling, sensuality, and modernist approach to public sculpture brought him both scandal and success. His many public commissions, such as The Burghers of Calais (1884-1886), broke all 19th-century French academic traditions.

Auguste Rodin: The Human Experience continues the 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Arthur Ross Gallery. The Gallery was the inspiration of Mr. Arthur Ross and Penn President Emeritus Martin Meyerson, who established the Arthur Ross Gallery in 1983 on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for the benefit of the Philadelphia and University communities. The Gallery presents four exhibitions a year of art and artifacts from around the world. It is free and open to the public six days a week.

RELATED PROGRAMS
All programs are free to Friends of the Arthur Ross Gallery and Penn students, faculty, and staff with Penn card.

Friday, September 6 at 5:00 pm
Gallery Talk by Judith Sobol
Executive Director, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm
Concert by Dolce Suono Ensemble
Mimi Stillman, flute
Allen Krantz, guitar
A performance of music by Mozart, Piazzolla, Fauré, and Daniel Dorff. Dorff is a Philadelphia-based composer who will introduce his "Serenade to Eve: After Rodin."

Wednesday, October 16 at 5:00 pm
Film Screening of Camille Claudel
The life of French sculptor Camille Claudel and her long relationship with legendary sculptor Auguste Rodin are portrayed in this passionate biographical drama, featuring acclaimed performances by Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu, directed by Bruno Nuytten (1988).

Friday, November 8, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Symposium on Auguste Rodin
Call 215-898-3617 for more information.

Additional support for Auguste Rodin is provided by Mrs. Arthur Ross, Mr. George Gillespie, the Arthur Ross Exhibition Fund, the Patron’s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the University of Pennsylvania Art Collection.

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La Tauromaquia: Carnicero, Goya, and Picasso
April 19 – July 28, 2013

PHILADELPHIA —In celebration of the Arthur Ross Gallery’s 30th Anniversary, La Tauromaquia: Carnicero, Goya, and Picasso presents 70 master prints collected by the Arthur Ross Foundation which explore the long-revered tradition of the Spanish bullfight by featuring the works of three extraordinary artists – Carnicero, Goya and Picasso – who interpreted this popular entertainment in very different ways. This is the first time all 70 prints are on display in a single exhibition.

In the 18th century, the bullfight was both a sport and an entertainment in Spain, democratically beloved from royalty to the lower classes. A skilled matador often became a famed national hero, and his fighting in the corrida was considered a fully developed art form. As Ernest Hemingway wrote: “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.”

Antonio Carnicero’s (1748-1814) seven etchings and title sheet from Colleción de las principals suertes de una corrida de toros (Collection of the main actions in a bullfight), executed in 1790, illustrate the highly ritualized stages of the bullfight. In 1816, at the age of 70, Francisco Goya published the first edition of 33 prints on La Tauromaquia in Madrid. His daring compositions and dramatic chiaroscuro accentuate the drama that unfolds in the ring. Several decades later, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), the brilliant 20th-century artist, turned to bullfighting for his subject matter. In a single afternoon in 1957 he completed 26 plates for La Tauromaquia, o arte de torear, Pepe Illo’s treatise, for the Ediciones La Cometa specialist collection.

La Tauromaquia: Carnicero, Goya and Picasso is the culmination of exhibitions celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Arthur Ross Gallery. The Gallery was the brainchild of Penn President Emeritus Mr. Martin Meyerson and Mr. Arthur Ross. In 1983, they established the Arthur Ross Gallery on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for the benefit of the Philadelphia and University communities. It has since expanded to a much broader focus, embracing an eclectic program of changing exhibitions in all fields of the visual arts and cultural artifacts from around the world.

Related Event: Symposium: La Tauromaquia: Carnicerco, Goya, and Picasso
Friday, April 19 from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Speakers include:
Janis A. Tomlinson, Director of University Museums, University of Delaware
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Professor, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Jock Reynolds, Director, Yale University Art Gallery
LOCATION: Claudia Cohen Hall Auditorium G-7, 249 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
$20 general admission. Free to Penn students with I.D. Reservations required, 215.898.3617 or renaedin@upenn.edu

Additional support for La Tauromaquia: Carnicero, Goya, and Picasso and the exhibition catalogue is provided by Mrs. Arthur Ross, Mr. George Gillespie, the Arthur Ross Exhibition Fund, the Friends of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Prints lent by Yale University Art Gallery and Mrs. Arthur Ross.

For details call 215-898-3617 or email arg@pobox.upenn.edu.

La Tauromaquia: Carnicero, Goya and Picasso continues at the Arthur Ross Gallery through July 18, 2013.

The Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public. HOURS: Weekdays 10:00am – 5:00pm; Weekends 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter. To reserve a group tour please contact us at arg@pobox.upenn.edu or 215-898-3617. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083.

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Creating: Quilts of the Lakota
Wokage: Lakota Wicahi Owinja Kin

February 9 – April 7, 2013

PHILADELPHIA —Creating: Quilts of the Lakota presents twenty eye-dazzling 20th century quilts from The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. Several of the quilts in the exhibition are exhibited publically and published for the first time. The exhibition and related catalogue reflect a three-year collaboration between the Arthur Ross Gallery and The Heritage Center.

Mary V. Bordeaux, a SICANGU LAKOTA and guest curator, selected the superb Star quilts that reflect just a fraction of The Heritage Center’s collection. In the exhibition catalogue Ms. Bordeaux notes: “When receiving a quilt…a Lakota person feels a sense of pride and respect, and those feelings are embodied in each and every quilt.”

To add historical and cultural context, 19th-century Lakota artifacts, including moccasins, a cradleboard, and parfleche boxes, are included in the exhibition and lent by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. These artifacts reflect Native American sewing traditions prior to the introduction of quilting in the 1880s by missionaries at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Visitors will discover both Lakota quilting techniques and as learn more about Lakota traditions. This exhibition promotes interdisciplinary learning, engages new audiences, and involves Penn faculty and students. Tours of the exhibition will be offered on weekend afternoons at 1 pm to the public.

Additional support for Creating: Quilts of the Lakota and the exhibition catalogue is provided by: Mrs. Arthur Ross, Mr. George Gillespie, the Arthur Ross Exhibition Fund, the Friends of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

RELATED PROGRAMS: Unless otherwise noted, events are at the Arthur Ross Gallery.
For details call 215-898-3617 or email arg@pobox.upenn.edu.

Saturday, February 9, 2013
Gallery Talk with curator Mary Bordeaux at 10:15 AM
Artist Talk with Lakota quilter Janyce Trask at 11:00 AM

Friday, February 22, 2013 7:30 PM
World Premier Reading of Miracle Play by Sheldon Wolf

The Gallery is located at 220 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public. HOURS: Weekdays 10:00am – 5:00pm; Weekends 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter. To reserve a group tour please contact us at arg@pobox.upenn.edu or 215-898-3617. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083.

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Samba Sessão: Afro-Brazilian Art and Film

April 7 – July 29, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Samba Sessão: Afro-Brazilian Art and Film focuses attention on the visual culture of Brazil, formerly home to the largest concentration of African slaves in the Americas and the longest lasting slave system in the Western Hemisphere. Brazil has a rich artistic tradition that is little known or exhibited in the United States, an oversight that Samba Sessão seeks to rectify.

Collected in the late-1990s by John Axelrod and later acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the fifteen paintings and three sculptures that form the core of the exhibition draw on different aspects of modern Afro-Brazilian life and culture. Created at the hands of twentieth-century Brazilian artists, the paintings, sculptures, and videos on display in the exhibition showcase a rich cultural inheritance.

“In the canvases, sculptures and films featured in the gallery, we witness birth, death, love, conflict, belief, and fantasy,” says curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, “We see bustling life in the big city and the slower pace of country roads side-by-side with ribald dancing and visionary rituals. The social and cultural landscape of Brazil is brought to life.”

Adds curator Tamara J. Walker: “The past - its weight, lessons, as well as its triumphs – is ingrained into the symbols and stories at the heart of the pieces on display, and as such it provides the key to understanding them.”

Samba Sessão is the product of a Halpern-Rogath Curatorial Seminar offered by the Department of the History of Art and led by professors Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw and Tamara J. Walker. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Arthur Ross Gallery with support from the Friends of the Arthur Ross Gallery. Additional support is provided by the Center for Africana Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, the History Department, and the Interdisciplinary Arts Grant, Office of the Provost, University of Pennsylvania.

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IN MATERIAL: FIBER 2012 Works by LUCY ARAI, SONYA CLARK, MI-KYOUNG-LEE & CYNTHIA SCHIRA

January 28 – March 25, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — In Material opens at the University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery on January 28, 2012. The exhibition presents four artists who bring innovation to the field of fiber art and deconstruct the popular definition of textile art with their use of unexpected materials.

Lucy Arai, currently based in California, was apprenticed in the practice of sashiko, a decorative stitching process, which she re-invigorates and applies to handmade paper and mixed media. Sonya Clark, who is Chair of Craft/Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, uses thread, plastic combs, human hair, and found objects to create works inspired by her ancestry. Philadelphia-based artist Mi-Kyoung Lee, who is chair of the Fiber Arts Department at the University of the Arts, has had her woven backdrops incorporated into theater productions around the globe. Cynthia Schira, whose work is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art collection, digitally connects art and language in her elaborately patterned Jacquard cloths.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with FiberPhiladelphia 2012, an international biennial for fiber and textile art, and in cooperation with Snyderman-Works Galleries. The Arthur Ross Gallery is pleased to partner with more than 30 other venues across the Philadelphia region to concurrently exhibit fiber art that incorporates new technologies, new materials, and contemporary artistic concerns. This exhibition was curated by Arthur Ross Gallery’s Associate Director and Associate Curator Dejáy B. Duckett.

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Arthur Ross Gallery Presents Magnum Photographer Stuart Franklin

November 5 – January 9, 2011

PHILADELPHIA- The Dogon: Work, Women and Water featuring photographs by renowned Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin, opens at the Arthur Ross Gallery on November 5, 2010. The exhibition is in cooperation with the 2010-11 Year of Water at the University of Pennsylvania.

On Thursday, November 4, at 5:00pm, Franklin will give a lecture in conjunction with the exhibition. Please consult the Gallery’s website for location and other details.

In 2009, Franklin was commissioned by the Voss Foundation, whose primary goal is to provide clean drinking water to African communities, to photograph its work in the Dogon region of Mali, focusing on women and water. The purpose of the mission was both to document the Voss Foundation's successful water projects in the area, and to increase awareness of the global water crisis. Franklin’s trip to Mali resulted in a series of photographs depicting the life of a desert landscape, where water is paramount in the daily struggle to survive. In an effort to promote awareness, the photographs invite the viewer to consider water as a precious resource rather than an endless commodity.

Franklin was born in London, England and studied photography at Oxford Polytechnic and West Surrey College of Art and Design, He joined Magnum Photos in 1985, covering subjects such as the U.S. involvement in Honduras, unemployment in Japan, and flooding in Sudan. He won a World Press Photo award for his now famous 1989 photo of a man standing up to a tank in China's Tiananmen Square.

Franklin began working with National Geographic in 1990, covering more than 20 assignments for the magazine on such subjects as Inca conqueror Francisco Pizarro, Shanghai, the hydro-struggle in Quebec, Buenos Aires, and Malaysia. His book projects include The Time of Trees (Leonardo Arte, Milan, 1999), La Città Dinamica (Mondadori, Milan, 2003), Sea Fever (Bardwell Press, Oxford, 2005), and Hotel Afrique (Dewi Lewis, Manchester, 2007), “Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux” (Thames & Hudson, 2008). He received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Oxford in 2002. He currently resides in the UK.

The Dogon: Work, Women and Water will continue at the Arthur Ross Gallery. 220 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, through January 9, 2011. Programming support provided by the Office of the Provost, and the African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083.



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"Naked: The University Collection Unveiled" opens at Penn’s Arthur Ross Gallery

August 28 – October 31, 2010

PHILADELPHIA- Naked: The University Collection Unveiled opens on Saturday, August 28 at the Arthur Ross Gallery. Featuring 42 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and photographs of the nude from the 1st century BCE to the present, this exhibition is selected from the University of Pennsylvania’s outstanding art collection.

What does it mean for a body to be beautiful? Society’s current obsession with the body and its politics is relentlessly detailed online and in media updates of luminaries—from Lance Armstrong to Oprah, Brad Pitt to Lady Gaga.

Historically, it was the role of visual artists to document these cultural norms. Naked: The University Collection Unveiled showcases this evolution through works by Albrecht Dürer, Marisol Escobar, an unidentified Greek sculptor, Henry Moore, Eadweard Muybridge, Helmut Newton, Auguste Rodin, Niki de Sainte Phalle, and Edward Steichen among others.

Free lectures and self-guided tours on the subject of the nude will be offered during September and October. Please consult the Gallery’s website for details. Naked: The University Collection Unveiled will continue at the Arthur Ross Gallery. 220 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, through October 31, 2010.

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Office of the Curator, University of Pennsylvania. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083.



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Laughing Matters: Soviet Propaganda in Khrushchev’s Thaw 1956-1964

April 10- June 27, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – Laughing Matters: Soviet Propaganda in Khrushchev’s Thaw 1956-1964 will open at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania on April 9, 2010. This exhibition comprised of 25 posters, most on view for the first time in the United States, offers a unique and thematically coherent sample of Soviet Propaganda art from the “Thaw,” period—a singular moment of post Stalinist liberalization during Nikita Khrushchev’s reign.

Curated by Liliana Mikova Ph.D. and Masha Kowell, Ph.D candidate, both from the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Laughing Matters: Soviet Propaganda in Khrushchev’s Thaw 1956-1964 highlights the dramatic iconographic shift from earlier Socialist Realist imagery to the vibrant images and cartoonish figures iconic of post-thaw propaganda posters. Instead of the monumentalizing and formulaic discourse common in pre-thaw images, the posters in Laughing Matters display humor, light-heartedness and whimsy, and are reminiscent of stylized comic books and caricatures.

A symposium, The Thaw: Visual Culture and Beyond addressing poster aesthetics in the former Eastern bloc countries will be held on April 8, 2010 at the Max Kade Center, sponsored by the Department of Slavic Studies. Additional support of the exhibition is provided by the Department of the History of Art at Penn. On April 9 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM the Arthur Ross Gallery will host an opening reception. On April 10 at 2:00 PM the Arthur Ross Gallery will host a public exhibition walk-through with the curators. An additional gallery talk, Khrushchev’s Fateful Visit to Albania, 50 Years On, will be given by Dr. Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on April 27, 2010 at 5:30 PM at the Arthur Ross Gallery. Please consult the Gallery’s website for details.

Laughing Matters: Soviet Propaganda in Khrushchev’s Thaw 1956-1964 will continue at the Arthur Ross Gallery, 220 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, through June 27, 2010. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083. Media Contact: Sara Stewart at 215-898-3617 or arg@pobox.upenn.edu

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Silence Dogood: An Installation by Miler Lagos

January 27 – March 21, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – In conjunction with Philagrafika 2010, Silence Dogood: An Installation by Miler Lagos will open at the Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania on January 27, 2010. Named after an early moniker used by Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood the installation will incorporate nearly four tons of recycled newspapers culled from the university and city’s recycling program, sculpted into a “forest.”

Contemporary Colombian artist Miler Lagos will create this site-specific installation in the Arthur Ross Gallery during a three-week residency as a Distinguished International Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from Bogotá, Lagos is a multi media artist with an interest in relating different socioeconomic environments—urban and popular—and re-appropriating the different visual and social phenomena that emerge in each context.

With more than 300 artists at 80 venues throughout the city, Philagrafika 2010 will be one of the largest art events in the United States and the world’s most important print-related exposition. Prominent museums and cultural institutions across Philadelphia are participating in Philagrafika 2010, offering regional, national and international audiences the opportunity to see contemporary art that references printmaking in dynamic, unexpected ways and to experience the rich cultural life of the city in the process.

On January 27th at 5 pm the Arthur Ross Gallery will host “A dialogue with Miler Lagos: Artistic Practice and Process” facilitated by Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Director. An opening reception immediately follows until 7:30 pm. Special thanks to La Casa Latina and the Office of the Provost at the University of Pennsylvania for their ongoing support. Please consult the Gallery’s website for details. Silence Dogood: An Installation by Miler Lagos will continue at the Arthur Ross Gallery, 220 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, through March 21, 2010. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083.