Animal Meet Human, a focus exhibition on view in the east bridge gallery opens on Friday, June 23, 2017. These objects in Crystal Bridges’ collection were created from the 1950s onward, and some have never before been on view. All the artworks reveal an awareness of where the edges of the animal kingdom overlap with those of the human world.
These artists use a wide array of stylistic choices, materials, and conceptual concerns, and no two artworks address the human-animal relationship in quite the same way. In modern society, animals are often portrayed as symbols to inspire actions or promote causes. But animals are also the unintended victims of environmental problems caused by human action.
An activity guide will be available that includes fun ways to engage with the exhibition, including prompts to make your own drawings inspired by the artworks.
The exhibition features 16 works of art, including four very different artworks that are on view at the museum for the first time. Here is a sneak peek of each:
Adonna Khare, Elephants, 2012
The largest is Elephants, a work on paper by Adonna Khare. She was part of 2014’s State of the Art exhibition at Crystal Bridges. This specific work won the grand prize at 2012’s ArtPrize, one of the highest-profile art competitions in the world.
Khare was previously an educator and is inspired by illustrations in children’s books and fables. Most of the animals and objects in her work represent not only her concern for the environment, but personal relationships and events in her life.
While planning the exhibition, we were able to ask which books inspired Khare, and the Crystal Bridges Library will feature a selection of these beautifully illustrated books. Be sure to visit the Library, located on the third floor of the museum, to view this display. Khare will also be visiting us in August, so look at the calendar online for upcoming programs with the artist.
Andy Warhol, Endangered Species Series, 1983
Warhol’s Endangered Species print series includes 10 images of various animals. Much better known for depicting celebrities, Warhol used large images and bright colors to turn these endangered animals into icons in their own right.
Warhol’s desire to depict endangered species came from conversations he had with art collectors about environmental issues. He donated several editions of these prints to wildlife conservation organizations with the intention that they be auctioned off in order to raise money for their causes.
Merce Cunningham, Untitled (Assorted Animals), 1980
Merce Cunningham began sketching animals at the Central Park Zoo after his arrival in New York City as a young dancer in 1939. Although he is best known for shaping modern dance with his visionary choreography, Cunningham drew animals throughout his lifetime. As an artist whose work was performed in gestures during fleeting moments on stage, Cunningham seems to have used these sketches as research—taking visual notes during trips to the zoo to inspire future dances.
Helen Frankenthaler, The Bullfight, 1958
In The Bullfight, the bull is more of a felt presence than a recognizable animal because the artist is attempting to portray an idea or emotion. In 1958, Helen Frankenthaler attended a bullfight while on her honeymoon in Spain with fellow artist Robert Motherwell. This epic event pitting human against beast horrified and inspired both artists.
In Frankenthaler’s depiction, created shortly after the event, large swaths of paint mark the surface of the paper. There is an immediacy and violence to this work. While recognizable forms of the bull and matador may not emerge from the chaos, Frankenthaler’s emotions of the experience come across in her expressionistic style.
We hope to see you soon inside this wild new exhibition!