Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art wraps up its sixth year with the re-opening of its North Forest, new acquisitions, and on-site art installations. Looking forward to 2018, the museum unveils plans to re-install the early American art galleries for the first time since opening.
“As one of the newest American art museums, Crystal Bridges continues to rethink how American art is presented,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Executive Director and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “We are excited to add to our permanent collection, activate new spaces, and create connections between the past and present, inviting visitors to consider the complexities inherent in the American spirit—all toward the goal of keeping the art experience engaging and accessible for our diverse audiences.”
The museum’s North Forest debuted in May 2017 with Chihuly: In the Forest and closed on November 27. The full exhibition, Chihuly: In the Gallery and In the Forest included an indoor and outdoor presentation of works by American artist Dale Chihuly and attracted more than 207,000 visitors, making it the highest-attended exhibition in the museum’s history. The North Forest and North Forest Trail, along with the Rock Ledge and Enfield Trails, will re-open to the public on December 23, 2017. The museums’ trails help increase accessibility to the museum’s natural landscape and new art experiences. The trails are currently available for visitors to enjoy, at no cost, from sunrise to sunset or during regular museum hours.
Along the North Forest Trail, visitors can enjoy four sculptures from the permanent collection that are being installed in the forest, including Tony Tasset’s 12-foot tall Deer (2015), which was recently on loan to the City of Chicago and appeared on the Riverwalk as part of a citywide initiative to install public art; George Rickey’s, One Fixed Four Jointed Lines Biased (1988), previously on view in the museum’s courtyard. Recent acquisitions will also be on view, including Carol Bove’s Horse Lover (2016), and Fletcher Benton, Steel Watercolor No. 162 (1993).
New Acquisitions and Installations
New works have been added to the 1940s to Now Gallery and help build on the uniquely American story. The Cost of Removal (2017), by Titus Kaphar, investigates historical subjects through the lens of current events to call attention to who and what is memorialized or forgotten. Crystal Bridges curator, Lauren Haynes explores Kaphar’s bold work in a free Gallery Talk on Wednesday, December 14.
Indian Land #4 (1980) is another recent addition to the Crystal Bridges collection by artists Fritz Scholder. He disrupts the romantic visions of American Indians by painting un-stereotyped Indian themes and images that exposed real life issues and situations in Native communities. Indian Land #4 is from the artist’s Indian Land series that is more abstract and darker than the bright Pop-Art Indian portraits he created in the 1970s. Indian Land #4 will be installed before the end of December.
In addition to the new acquisitions, December brings two visiting artists who will install site-specific work at the museum. Leonardo Drew, a Brooklyn-based artist, works with everyday materials related to the architecture and the natural surroundings of a space. Drew recently gave a Gallery Talk and completed an installation, titled 184T (2017), on the north side of the Early-Twentieth Century Gallery. Nina Chanel Abney will be installing a mural in the stairwell that connects the galleries to the museum’s restaurant. Abney’s figurative paintings deal with contemporary urban life. Her work is influenced by many aspects of popular culture, including cartoons, video games, hip-hop, and tabloid magazines, as well as artists Romare Bearden, Henri Matisse, and Stuart Davis. The work, which will be titled upon completion, will be on view to the public on December 16.
“These thrilling new acquisitions and site-specific projects further the museum’s effort to diversify our collection and broaden our understanding of the American experience,” said Lauren Haynes, Curator of Contemporary Art. “Artists like Nina Chanel Abney and Titus Kaphar address contemporary issues and allow visitors to make connections with other works in our collection.”
The Early American Art Galleries will be closed from January 9 through mid-March, 2018, when Crystal Bridges will unveil the newly designed spaces. In the reimagined galleries, visitors will engage with the permanent collection in new and invigorating ways. Along with familiar works from the collection, the installation will include objects on loan from other institutions, such as historical Native American art, folk art, furniture, and art from other regions and time periods to encourage a more textured narrative about the first centuries of US art and history.
While the galleries are closed, the works in the early American collection will be accessible through e-museum, the online Crystal Bridges gallery. In addition, visitors can enjoy the U.S. debut of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power opening on February 3, 2018, as well as new acquisitions, installations, ongoing programs, plus miles of trails and grounds to explore.