Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Catherine’s Garden of Glass

Venice. 3 Visions in Glass
Christiano Bianchin I Yoichi Ohira I Laura de Santilana
March 6 – August 15, 2010 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Catherine Futter wanted to bring some glass to Kansas City, this “city of clay”. And she has. She desired for you to interact with the pieces and you will. Every piece is a unique bubble of glass, a bit of suspended geological richness, turned by hand, and expanded with human breath. The result may take your breath away.

This exhibit resembles a garden. There’s even a bench for you to sit and contemplate, absorb, and relax. Not just any bench. This is a Gordon Nelson Bench. Absorb the vantage point as you sit and look at how the thoughtful choreographed lighting dances on the glass surfaces. Creations placed on white pedestals, pieces under glass, on elegant shelves at eye level, even a few that seem to sprout from the pinkish sand. About the sand…

Sand from Australia, the color of the Outback at sunset, a soft engaging color gives this experience the geological palette to remind you that these shapes originated as grains of earth. The subtle natural light that drifts in the room, changes with the day, makes Steven Holl, the architect, a collaborator. Glass needs light and you’ll enjoy the warmth.

Don’t miss the gems encased around the corner. Approach and look closely.

Catherine selected pieces that connect with the encyclopedic gallery in adjoining rooms and exhibits. You may see the brilliant blue bottle-like vessels displayed on organic materials and think of an archeological site in Egypt. Shapes of urns whisper Africa. Consider the delicious orange liquid mass shining in the corner and sense the contemporary art nearby slipping into the room. Watch how the pieces interact. A few panels may have you going back to that Rothko work. There’s a conversation in this garden, but it echoes throughout the museum.

It feels fitting that this collaboration of light, space, style, color, angle and motion, a vision of this curator, this producer in a film making sense, connects with the collaborative craft of glass blowing. This is not a solitary art. So, if you visit the gallery on a quiet day, and think you are alone, remember you have a myriad of friends on that bench beside you, next to you at the glass as you peer at the beautiful suspensions. You may decide to return a few times to this sanctuary of light and color before August to continue the conversation…

Venice. 3 Visions in Glass—Cristiano Bianchin, Yoichi Ohira and Laura de Santillana
March 6, 2010—August 15, 2010
Bloch Building, Galleries L7 and L8
Admission is free. http://www.nelson-atkins.org/art/Exhibitions.cfm?id=91

Courtesy of the artists and Barry Friedman Ltd. This exhibition is supported by the Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for exhibitions.

Catherine Futter
Helen Jane and R. Hugh "Pat" Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts

Catherine Futter has been the Helen Jane and R. Hugh "Pat" Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts at the Nelson-Atkins since 2002. Futter has a bachelor's degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Duke University and a master's degree and doctorate in the history of art from Yale University.

Although at the Nelson-Atkins, Futter focuses on American and European decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present; her specialization is decorative arts from 1850 to the present. She is currently working in conjunction with the Carnegie Museum of Art on an exhibition of decorative arts made for world’s fairs from 1851 to 1939.

Pictured: Yoichi Ohira, Japanese (working in Venice, Italy), b. 1946. Workshop of Maestro Andrea and Maestro Giacomo Barbini. Cristallo Sommerso N. 50–Scolpito Vase, 2008. Hand-blown, cut and polished glass.

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