Artist Dominique Labauvie (French, b. 1948) unites language,
both his native French and English, with image in his architectonic steel sculptures. Air Fer Mer, the title of the outdoor installation on the Sullivan Terrace, as well as the title of one the sculptures on view, reflects the artist’s play on language—“air fer mer” spoken aloud sounds like “éphémère,” the French word for “ephemeral.” Ephemerality embodies the essence of Labauvie’s art. Although his medium of industrial steel suggests a sense of permanence, Labauvie aims to capture fleeting moments in his sculpture—from the movement of light and shadows, to the passage of time and life unfolding around us. “Air Fer Mer” also translates to iron, air, sea—a fitting description of the objects’ relationship to the natural world. In this unique setting, four of Labauvie’s sculptures exist in harmony with the Hillsborough River and Tampa skyline.
As the Tampa Museum of Art celebrates its 100th anniversary, exhibitions in 2019 and 2020 will focus on the breadth of the institution’s permanent collection, as well as examine its collecting history. The Tampa Museum of Art’s holdings are unique, with distinct collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, as well as modern and contemporary art.
A Closer Look: Ancient Glass from the Permanent Collection
Drawn primarily from the permanent collection, A Closer Look: Ancient Glass includes examples of ancient Greek and Roman glass vessels made in a range of ancient techniques. The objects on view help to illustrate the development of glass production in the classical world over a period of nearly one thousand years, from the fourth century BC to the fourth or fifth century AD.
Shards and Illusions: Contemporary Glass from the Permanent Collection
Shards and Illusions: Contemporary Glass from the Permanent Collection features a selection of contemporary glass by American and European artists Jon Kuhn, John Luebtow, Steven Maslach, Michael Pavlik, Louis Sclafani, Lino Tagliapietra, and Toots Zynsky. This intimate presentation focuses on architectural and abstract forms within the Tampa Museum of Art’s unique holdings in glass.
Frank Stella (American, b. 1936) created the series Illustrations after El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya (1984) after seeing artist El Lissitzky’s artwork at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Between 1917 and 1919, Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) completed imagery for a children’s book of “Had Gadya”, an allegorical song sung at the close of the Passover Seder. Lissitzky’s modernist interpretation of the traditional song highlighted the influence of the Russian avant-garde in his work, as he depicted characters and scenes in "Had Gadya" with abstract forms and interlocking geometric shapes. Inspired by Lissitzky’s "Had Gadya", Stella produced a suite of prints corresponding to the artist’s imagery. Rather than re-interpret the song, Stella responded to Lissitzky’s abstractions with his own signature vibrant palette and curvilinear gestures. The exhibition features Stella’s complete portfolio of twelve prints, each unique in technique and color.
In conjunction with Frank Stella: Illustrations after El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya, the Tampa Museum of Art has organized Frank Stella: What You See, a pendant exhibition featuring works by Frank Stella in regional collections, including the Tampa Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The exhibition is inspired by Stella’s quote “What you see is what you see,” the artist’s famed description of his art as noted in a 1964 interview. The intimate selection of works provides an overview of Stella’s oeuvre from his exploration of minimal forms in the 1960s and 1970s, to the creation of lyrical multi-media compositions in the late 1990s. Frank Stella: What You See presents a snapshot view of one of today’s most influential living artists.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Tampa Museum of Art presents a series of exhibitions focused on the achievements of women in the arts. HerStory: Stories of Ancient Heroines and Everyday Women explores the story of women in the ancient world through the depictions of goddesses, heroines, mythological characters, and everyday women in the Museum’s collection of classical antiquities. The exhibition highlights objects that speak to the role of women in the ancient world, their myths and stories, from Aphrodite and Athena to Amazon Warriors to women of the everyday. These roles are examined through the museum’s collection of statues, fragments, vessels, and objects from daily life.
Since photography’s inception in the mid-nineteenth century, women have stood among its artistic and technological pioneers. Modern Women: Modern Vision features 100 works from the Bank of America Collection by leading artists of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The exhibition is organized in six thematic sections: Modernist Innovators, Documentary Photography and the New Deal, Photo League, Modern Masters, Exploring the Environment, and The Global Contemporary Lens. Each section examines the photographers’ role in forging new directions and methods in photography, as well as how the medium has evolved with the advent of new digital and studio practices. Artists featured in this exhibition include Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Tina Barney, Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher, Margaret Bourke-White, Esther Bubley, Imogen Cunningham, Rineke Dijkstra, Candida Höfer, Barbara Kruger, Dorothea Lange, Nikki S. Lee, Helen Levitt, Sonia Handelman Meyer, DoDo Jin Ming, Ruth Orkin, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems, and others.
C. Paul Jennewein’s (German-American, 1890-1978) artwork reveals the inspiration of the ancient world while also engaging with the new sculptural styles of his time, merging Art Deco with the neo-classical tradition. In 1978, the Tampa Bay Art Center, predecessor of the Tampa Museum of Art, received a bequest of 2,600 objects including finished artworks, as well as preparatory drawings, plaster casts, and molds for the numerous commissions Jennewein received during his prolific career. Sketches and Sculptures: A Study of C. Paul Jennewein highlights this extensive archive. The exhibition presents an overview of the artist’s early sculptures and four major commissions executed between 1925 and 1940 that defined Jennewein as one of the most significant sculptors of his day.
Sketches and Sculpture: A Study of C. Paul Jennewein is part of the Tampa Museum of Art’s centennial exhibition series Celebrating 100 Years.
The Classical World showcases Greek, Etruscan, and Roman artworks and artifacts from the Museum’s notable antiquities collection, supplemented with important loans from local private collectors. Ranging from prehistoric pottery and sculpture (dating from as early as 3000 BC) to marble sculpture and terracotta from the Roman Empire (dating to as late as the 5th century AD), the exhibition includes a particularly fine assortment of Greek and South Italian black-figure and red-figure vases. Important works in the antiquities collection are highlighted as part of the exhibition, The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works.
White Gold is an immersive installation by artist Thomas Sayre (American, b. 1950) that depicts a cotton-filled Southern landscape. The work intends to express the beauty, the complexity, and the tragedy of our embroiled agricultural traditions. Cotton is one of the nation’s most contentious and layered materials, and one with which almost every American has a personal relationship, either directly or indirectly. Inevitably, it is linked to the economic, racial, and social history of the region and its people. Sayre’s White Gold refers to cotton and a reverence for the land, the labor, and the people (forced or unforced) who made cotton their livelihood. The installation is a fierce expression of the Southern landscape: its magnificence and the haunting pain of history, memory, and ultimately, belonging.
White Gold: Thomas Sayre is organized by the
Mississippi Museum of Art and
the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh.
Wolfgang Flad is a German artist living and working in Berlin. Born in 1974, he studied textile design at Fachhochschule Reutlingen and fine arts at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Germany and other European countries, and has placed his artwork in museum collections in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Primarily a sculptor, Flad is interested in “upcycling” previously used material, and in creating unexpected associations and connections between art and the natural world.
Kiss and Tell consists of some 30 individual wooden elements hanging from a grid in the Morsani Atrium. Each element has been coated with different types of paint and varnish, as well as with papier-mâché made from various papers dealing with art (critical texts, invitations, magazines, books, catalogs, etc). In this way Flad tries to bring the material back into organic shapes and structures reminiscent of the trees and other plants from which such materials first originate. According to Flad, this idea is close to that of the Italian artist, Giuseppe Penone, who has talked about “the hidden life within” in his peeled wood works that reveal delicate plants inside larger beams. Flad is also interested in the flora and fauna of Florida, where he spends time each year; some of his forms resemble mangroves and other plants from this region.
Generous funding for the framework used to hang this artwork provided by the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
Jaume Plensa is an internationally acclaimed artist who has exhibited his sculptures in museums all over the world. In locations as diverse as Seoul, Paris, Chicago, Bordeaux and London, Plensa’s monumental sculptures have reaffirmed the power of art to transform a public space into a community. This is aptly demonstrated in his first major commission in the United States, The Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park (2004). Two 11-story LED towers face each other across a thin pool of water, with images of a changing and diverse city reflected in the water, a continuously cycling metaphor for the life of a city.
The Crown Fountain was the beginning of Plensa’s investigation of the portrait via photography and form. This led to works like Laura with Bun. At more than 23 feet tall, this artwork expresses both individual and universal traits at great scale, inviting viewers to consider multiple aspects of beauty and human nature. Like all of his large-scale female portrait heads, Laura has her eyes closed, as if looking within. In speaking about these works, Plensa has said, “Look into yourself. My piece is a mirror to reflect your image, so you can think about your own interior—how much beauty we have inside of ourselves.”
Laura with Bun initially came to Tampa as part of the 2016 exhibition Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous gift and the overwhelming popular support of nearly 100 donors, the Museum has committed to purchase the sculpture for our permanent collection.