Cindy Sherman

2012 in Review

By: Bridgette Beard Klein, Communications Assistant

Image

This image is from one of the most popular posts from our blog this year (and ever). Here the Inverted Q is shown through the Chromatic Vision Simulator’s Protanope filter. To view the Q’s typical appearance, visit the Akron Art Museum’s Online Collection.

2012 has been an exhilarating year for the Akron Art Museum. We continued to launch our new visual look, celebrated 90 years in the community, exhibited monumental art and made major leadership changes.

We really kicked off the year with our 90th anniversary celebration in February. The performance included abstract painter Al Bright in concert with the Jesse Dandy Band. In March, Ray Turner: Population opened featuring an ever-expanding series of portraits, including key Akronites from the University Park neighborhood and even some Akron Art Museum staff.

April and May saw the staff preparing for the sale of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art – Evening Sale on May 8, 2012. The money raised from the sale created a new acquisitions endowment. We retained another 1981 masterpiece by Cindy Sherman from the Centerfolds series, Untitled #93 (Black Sheets), subsequently named Sherman the 2011-2012 Knight Purchase Award recipient and purchased several works from her Bus Riders series.

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui opened in June with the artist present in Akron! The Akron Art Museum was the first modern and contemporary art museum in the US to collect Anatsui’s work and is thrilled to organize the major traveling exhibition. Huffington Post recently called its presentation at the Brooklyn Museum one of “The 25 Most Anticipated Exhibitions of the New Year.” You can catch the exhibition on its national tour through 2014.

The summer sizzled with the always popular Downtown@Dusk concert series and the new to 2012 ArtCamp@Dusk for kids to enjoy while their parents listen and embarrassingly dance to music. In July, we launched our completely redesigned website and enacted two major admission changes. Children 17 years and younger are now admitted FREE to the museum’s galleries. Beginning in July, visitors receive FREE admission to the collection and exhibition galleries all day from 11 am – 9 pm, on the third Thursday of every month.

After 26 years as director, with one of the longest tenures of any art museum leader in the country, Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan announced to the Akron Art Museum’s Board of Trustees that his resignation, effective January 2, 2013, and assume the title of Director Emeritus. Janice Driesbach joined the staff in August after a yearlong national search, as the museum’s new Chief Curator and was named Interim Director in December.

The colder weather hasn’t slowed down this mammoth year. Sculpture exhibitions Adolph Gottlieb: Sculptor  and New Artifacts: Works by Brent Kee Young and Sungsoo Kim opened in late October.  In November, tribute was paid to Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan during a formal dinner on November 10 and a community day on November 11. Holiday mART expanded its hours to reach more people this year and the popular Island of Misfit Toys once again sold out.

You might think all of this is enough for one year, but think again. Just as many people were planning their final holiday shopping or how to best spend the time off with family, the Akron Art Museum announced a pledge from museum supporters Rick and Alita Rogers as the lead gift for the design and construction of its long awaited outdoor sculpture garden. The completed outdoor gallery and multi-use space will bear the name of Bruce and Susanne Rogers, Rick’s parents, who are among Akron’s most devoted community boosters.

From September to December, we added 131 new objects, many of which were donated in honor of Mitchell.  The museum’s commitment to photography holds strong and over half of the works in the collection are photographs. You can check out the museum’s collection at www.AkronArtMuseum.org/collection.

As for the blog, some of the most popular posts have been The Q is Blue!, Staff Interview: Special Events Manager Sheri Stallsmith and Photographic Masks from the Collection.  We have some posts planned for the next couple of months that we can’t wait to share with you.

Don’t think the Akron Art Museum will rest on its laurel in 2013. As the search for a new director continues, the museum will open some amazing exhibitions and put on some great events.

 The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats pays tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), the first to feature an African-American protagonist in modern full-color picture books and will open on March 16, 2013. The exhibition Draw Me a Story (February 9 – August 4, 2013) will celebrate Keats’s legacy and the power of visual literacy and multiculturalism. Elementary students from area schools will created collaborative picture books. The student artists will also meet and work with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh, who will be here in the spring.

Drawn entirely from the museum’s collection, Danny Lyon: Bikeriders highlights one of the artist’s most celebrated bodies of works. Now, nearly 50 years after their creation, the images retain their original power and raw energy. Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak showcases paintings and prints collected by the Akron Art Museum since 1970. The exhibition documents both Julian Stanczak’s impressive career as a master of color and the museum’s longstanding commitment to his work.

Art and Ale returns this year on March 8 and the galleries will even be open for the first hour! Get your tickets now to take advantage of special pricing. Meanwhile, kids and teens will be delighted with our studio class offerings, but don’t wait to sign up because these classes are in demand.

As always, check out the website, Facebook, Twitter and this blog for the most up-to-date Akron Art Museum information.

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Photographic Masks from the Collection

By: Eric Parrish, Curatorial Research Assistant

indy Sherman 1994.4

In the spirit of Halloween, the Akron Art Museum offers its patrons a slideshow of photographic masks ranging from the literal to the abstract. You can also visit many of these works at www.AkronArtMuseum.org/collection.

Perhaps the most innocent mask-wearers in the collection are the three young children – depicted wearing paper cut-out masks and standing patiently on a door-step – in Helen Levitt’s New York (1939). In contrast, Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s 1960 photograph of a boy with a masked face and heavy, over-sized hands takes on an ambiguously melancholy air—a world-weariness we normally associate with adulthood. Edouard Boubat’s Fêtes des morts, Mexique 1980, which depicts the Day of the Dead celebrations on November 1, shows a masked boy placing a candle on a grave. Ken Heyman’s depiction of two young trick-or-treaters in Children in masks, Hotel Belvedere in background, NY provides an interesting counterpart to Levitt’s photograph from a quarter century earlier.

Of course, children aren’t the only ones in the collection wearing masks. Heyman’s Man with mask and black robe in [sic] Halloween, New York (1984) depicts a man dressed as what appears to be a sunglasses-wearing witch. Similarly, Leon Levinstein’s untitled and undated photograph depicts a pair of masked revelers in a delightfully seedy Times Square. In The Masquerader (1985), Penny Rakoff brilliantly uses color to create a mysterious dream-like atmosphere surrounding the masked woman of the title. The same year master-photographer Cindy Sherman created a photograph (Untitled) which somehow defies any attempt at adequate description; it must be seen.

Clarence John Laughlin’s evocatively-titled The Masks Grow to Us (1950) portrays a much more metaphorical kind of mask—one that hints at the complex relationship between masks and identity. Similarly, Amy Jenkins’s Untitled XLIII (43) (1994) is a surrealist tableau that includes a face embedded in the eye of another face. Lotte Jacobi’s beautifully ethereal Mask takes this motif fully into the realm of abstraction.

There are several other photographs in the collection that evoke Halloween. Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s 1966 photograph Untitled [Arched doorway with ghost] combines photographic techniques of erasure with an institutional setting to suggest a ghostly figure wandering through an abandoned hospital or penitentiary. Finally, Joan Liftin’s gorgeous color photograph “Psycho,” Kentucky (1984) juxtaposes the warmth and intimacy of a drive-in theatre at twilight with a single projected frame (“Bates Motel / Vacancy”) of Alfred Hitchcock’s black -and-white horror masterpiece.

#CindySale Tomorrow!

Tomorrow night Christie’s will auction Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 on behalf of the Akron Art Museum. You can learn more about the sale on our previous post, Akron Art Museum to Auction Contemporary Masterpiece. Several members of the staff and Board of Trustees will be in New York City at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale.

We will be tweeting using #CindySale to post about the auction, results and everything else related to the NYC trip.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or “Like” our Facebook page.

Akron Art Museum to Auction Contemporary Masterpiece

Cindy Sherman's Untitled #96

Coinciding with the retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Christie’s is proud to offer an acclaimed masterpiece by Cindy Sherman consigned by the Akron Art Museum, Ohio. All proceeds from the sale will be directed to the museum’s acquisition fund to allow for future strategic purchases that will augment the core of the Akron Art Museum’s strong Contemporary collection.

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 is recognized as an icon within her career to date. Another example of this image was sold at Christie’s in May 2011 for $3,890,500, which represents not only a world auction record for Sherman, but also a world record price for any photograph at the time.* The work from the Akron Art Museum is a vintage print in excellent condition and will have a pre-sale estimate of $2,800,000 – $3,800,000.

Dr. Mitchell Kahan, Akron Art Museum director and CEO, states:  “The Akron Art Museum is extremely happy to partner with Christie’s on this sale. The result will be a new acquisitions endowment that generates significant growth for our collection. I am especially looking forward to continuing a commitment to Cindy Sherman by acquiring works made after the famous Centerfolds images.”

Akron Art Museum has for thirty years strategically used funds to acquire great new works for its collection, ranging from American masters Philip Guston, Frank Stella and Chuck Close in the early 1980s to more recent purchases of works by Kiki Smith and Yinka Shonibare.

Dr. Kahan notes that the museum will retain in its collection another 1981 masterpiece by Cindy Sherman from the Centerfolds series, Untitled #93 (Black Sheets). Akron Art Museum has a longstanding commitment to Sherman’s work, having organized her first major exhibition in 1984, which traveled to the Walker Art Center and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, states:  “Christie’s is very proud to have been selected by the Akron Art Museum to sell this masterpiece. The museum acquired this work in 1981, the year of its creation, showcasing the forward thinking approach of the institution. Our track record with important works by Cindy Sherman is unparalleled. We are confident that Christie’s leadership in the contemporary market will allow us to achieve a record price for Akron’s work, allowing the museum to continue to collect at the highest level.

Untitled #96 is an outstanding example from her highly acclaimed Centerfolds series, which Sherman made as a project for Artforum magazine in 1981. Untitled #96 is recognized as the most important work from the series. This image has become the icon of the major retrospective currently at the Museum of Modern Art and is reproduced in all the media related to this show.

Although Sherman designed the Centerfolds images to resemble quick snapshots of a young woman’s life, she heavily choreographed, acted and staged them herself. As both the subject and executor of these images, she takes the utmost care to develop the various guises for each photograph she produces. She will dress the set, create the costumes, design the lighting and finally execute the photograph entirely by herself without the use of assistants. By controlling every aspect of the image’s production, she dispels the long held belief that photography is the medium of “truth.”

*Christie’s leader in selling photographs

May 2011, Christie’s set a world record for any photograph ever sold at auction with Sherman’s Untitled, an example from her 1981 Centerfold series, comparable to Untitled #96 which achieved $3,890,500 in the Post- War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale. Christie’s has broken this world record only 6 months later with Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II for $4,338,500.