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Crystals in Art Through the Ages

Alexis Arnold Smithsonian Nature Guide: Rocks and Minerals, 2019 Book, borax 9 ½ × 8 ½ × 6 in. Courtesy of the artist

We are one month away from the opening of our newest temporary exhibition, Crystals in Art! Read on to learn a little more about the exhibition and get a sneak peek at some of the artworks that will be found in the show.

 

What is Crystals in Art?

Statuette of Venus

Maker Unkown, Statuette of Venus, Roman 100-1 BC, Rock crystal, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, 78.AN.248

Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today is a new exhibition developed at Crystal Bridges that investigates the many and surprising roles of crystal in the arts through the ages. It traces this dialogue between art and crystals through a selection of works spanning from ancient Egypt up to the present. This expansive focus allows us to showcase these great works of art in Arkansas, the only location in North America where large-scale mining of quartz crystals takes place.

Members See it First!

Member Preview on Friday, October 11. Members receive free access to Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today.

Not a member? Join today!

 

Ancient and Contemporary Artists

The artists featured in Crystals in Art span centuries. Some lived hundreds of years ago while others are still living and working today. Get to know artists Albrecht Dürer and Marina Abramovic, and learn how crystals impacted their work.

Albrecht Dürer, German, Nuremberg 1471-1528 Nuremberg, Melencolia I, 1514, Engraving 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in., Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 2003 (2003.446.1)

 

Ancient Crystals in Art: Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528 CE) was a painter and printmaker of the German Renaissance. While he experimented with many art mediums and subjects throughout his life, his work with engravings in the 1510s led him to create Melencolia I (1514).

The concept of melancholy is personified in the winged figure on the right of the artwork. While melancholy is known to us today as a sense of deep and pensive sadness, there were many during the Renaissance who associated it with creative genius or knowledge.

On the other side of the winged figure sits a large polyhedron that absorbs quite a bit of space in the busy scene. While no one is exactly sure what the figure is–including whether or not it’s a crystal–its presence in the artwork is a reflection of mathematical principles that were present at the time. The engraving is a depiction of the intellectual situation of the artist, and is, by extension, a spiritual self-portrait of Dürer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contemporary Crystals in Art: Marina Abramovic

Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, artist Marina Abramovic has pioneered performance as a visual art form and has included crystal in many of her artworks. In a recent interview with Joachim Pissarro, co-curator of Crystals in Art, Abramovic talked about her fascination with crystals:

“Crystals send certain energy which is undeniable. Crystals have been used in the medieval ages and now it’s used in technology. It has the power of conserving energy and light. Right now, you have tiny little crystal chips, in which you can store the full knowledge of our planet, and you can send it through space.” – Marina Abramovic

Abramovic will have two works featured in the exhibition: Dozing Consciousness (1997) (pictured right), and Self Portrait with Quartz Crystal (2018). In Dozing Consciousness, the provocative still of a women’s lips in a bed of crystals is actually part of a seven-minute video of the woman’s face fully emerging from the crystals around her. The clinking noises of the crystals moving around her create a soothing sound.

 

 

 

Marina Abramovic is coming to Crystal Bridges in October!

Marina Abramovic gives an artist talk at Crystal Bridges in 2017.

Abramovic will be coming to Crystal Bridges this season for an artist talk in which she will discuss her work and exploration of long durational performance, transitory objects, and the boundaries between artist and audience.

Marina Abramovic at Crystal Bridges
Wednesday, October 30 | 7 to 8 pm
Tickets are available here.

 

Other Artists

Anthony James, Portal Icosahedron.

Anthony James, Portal Icosahedron.

Other ancient artworks will include a sixteenth-century Mexican crystal pendant from a rosary and a Roman statuette of Venus (scroll up) from the first century BC. Other contemporary artworks will include a massive copper and crystal chandelier by artist Ai Weiwei and enormous, LED-lit icosahedron sculptures by Anthony James.

 

Stay tuned for more posts about Crystals in Art coming soon!

 

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