The Taubman Museum of Art today announced new exhibitions that include “50 Great American Artists,” a collection of works from some of the best American artists over the past 135 years.
Other upcoming exhibitions at the Taubman Museum of Art portray a local woman’s journey to foreign lands, the effects of war on artistic style, the pioneering spirit of America, and the visual depiction of chance in the creative process.
“These exhibitions empower and welcome the viewer to be curious, question and create their own meaning, which is what we strive for at the Taubman,” said Leah Stoddard, director of exhibitions.
“They also feature art created in our region, which continues to be a hallmark of our museum.”
General admission is free. Details are available at www.taubmanmuseum.org.
“50 Great American Artists”
The “50 Great American Artists,” exhibition, which will be run from Feb. 15 to June 1, is a collection of works from some the best American artists over the past 135 years. The exhibit will include such artists as Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol and is made possible by Michael Preble, curator from Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, and loans from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
“The artists in this show make us see the world in a new way, which mirrors the pioneering spirit of American history,” Stoddard said. “They went outside of the expected in their works.”
Instead of painting exactly what they saw, some of these American artists began to view the world abstractly. Other artists forced their audiences to think about who or what images should be considered art because they believed that everyday people were also worthy of a painting.
The innovative attitudes of these American artists are represented in the 50 paintings, works on paper and sculptures, including objects from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art.
John Cage: “The Sight of Silence”
In celebration of his centennial year, the Taubman will host two exhibitions dedicated to the works of John Cage, who created art in Blacksburg.
From Feb. 15 to May 18, “The Sight of Silence” will feature more than 60 watercolors and works on paper, made possible in part by the Roanoke Arts Commission. The exhibition will also include handwritten musical scores, illustrated notations and videos of performances. It was curated by the Taubman’s Ray Kass and Marshall Price from the National Academy in New York.
Cage was best known for his ability to explore creativity across disciplines, from music and literature to visual art.
“He was really aware of silence because he believed that the absence of sound was a key aspect of music,” Kass said. “His understanding of silence and the artistic process, which here involves the roll of dice determining where rocks from the New River are placed on paper and outlined in watercolor.”
In addition to being a composer and visual artist, Cage was also an avant-garde thinker. He inspired an opening up of creativity by encouraging people to let accident and chance feed into their artistic process.
To compliment Cage’s work, artists Tyler Adams and Sabine Groschup created “Time and Indeterminacy in John Cage’s Legacy,” which includes a documentary film and other videos of these artists engaging the music of John Cage in new ways. These videos will be available for viewing from Feb. 15 to June 1.
“Jean Hélion: A Painter’s Journey in Life in Art”
“Jean Hélion: A Painter’s Journey in Life in Art,” demonstrates the dramatic shift in the French artist’s style from abstract to realism, which is believed to be influenced by Hélion’s experiences as a prisoner of war during World War II. Hélion (1904-1987) was a leading figure in the Paris art world in the 1930s, associated with the best abstract artists of his time.
The 18 works from local collections span nearly 50 years, illustrating Hélion’s journey from Paris to New York before settling in Rockbridge Baths, Va., where he had a studio. This visual journey takes a turn from abstract to figurative or representational images after Hélion escapes from being held as a prisoner of war for two years. Hélion’s exposure to war’s heavy hand is particularly evident in his paintings of the gritty nature of life on the streets in post-war Paris.
Hélion’s visual struggle between abstraction and representational art will be on display at the Taubman from Feb. 15 to May 25. It is curated by Bill White, emeritus professor at Hollins University. Works in the show were loaned by Hélion’s family with additional pieces borrowed from the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins.
“Pilgrimage: Alison Hall”
The first of the new exhibitions, “Pilgrimage: Alison Hall,” is open through May 11. The works of this Martinsville native illustrate her journey to Italy.
Inspired by the early Italian Renaissance artist Giotto, Hall, a Hollins University professor, created six drawings, a floor sculpture and a large 96-by-77-inch back piece that depicts her interpretation of the architecture, space, and light of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
“This fresco cycle is the basis for my painting, which itself is an homage to the land and the art that has consistently nurtured me,” Hall says. “Like a modern altarpiece, it is my tribute to Italy, to my friends there, to the light, to the language, to living life simply. It is a place that walks beside me every day.”
Combined, Hall’s pieces create an intimate room installation that encourages visitors to look beyond the foreground and question the importance of light and space.
About the Taubman Museum of Art
The Taubman Museum of Art is open with free general admission Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional hours include First Fridays for Art by Night from 5 to 8 p.m. To learn about current and future exhibits, please visit www.taubmanmuseum.org or call 540.342.5760.