May 14, 2019
BMA to Reinstall Contemporary Collection Galleries With New View On the Development of Contemporary Art
BALTIMORE, MD (May 14, 2019)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today announced a sweeping reinstallation of its contemporary collection galleries that focuses on the creativity of 20th- and 21st-century black artists. Titled Every Day: Selections from the Collection, the reinstallation features works by such visionary artists as David Hammons, Joyce J. Scott, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, and Nari Ward, alongside those by Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly, and Andy Warhol, among others. Centering the works by black artists creates a multidimensional picture of contemporary art that also allows us to
reimagine our collective past, revealing the vital role of artists and art in conversations about history and the future.
On view July 14, 2019, through January 5, 2020, the Every Day revisioning of the galleries is part of the BMA’s broader vision to reshape art historical narratives to better reflect the range and diversity of voices that have led and influenced artistic innovation. This effort includes alterations in the museum’s collecting, special exhibitions, and public programs. Every Day is organized by Curator Katy Siegel, BMA Senior Research & Programming and Thaw Chair of Modern Art at Stony Brook University, with Cecilia Wichmann, BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.
“Every Day underscores the BMA’s commitment to presenting the achievements of artists who have for too long been underrepresented in our artistic and cultural dialogues. Black artists have deeply influenced the development of modern art and are producing some of the most innovative work of our time. This installation captures the aesthetic and conceptual interplay between those artists who have traditionally been celebrated for their vision and work and those that deserve much greater acclaim and examination,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “The reinstallation of these galleries will be followed in fall 2019 with the opening of Generations, a special exhibition that will explore in depth the contributions of black artists to the development of abstract art, further highlighting the importance of reassessment to our understanding of modern and contemporary art.”
As part of the installation, the BMA will present Isaac Julien’s Baltimore (2003), a monumental, three-screen video that was recently acquired by the museum. The narrative follows two people, filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles and an Afro-Cyborg woman embodied by Vanessa Myrie, making their way through significant cultural sites of the city. The pair traverses the Walters Art Museum, the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, and the George Peabody Library. Each institution lays a different claim to history—whether the over 5,000 years of art held at the Walters; diverse figures of black historical personalities, from Egyptian queens to formerly enslaved people, all rendered in wax; or the holdings of the Peabody, a library that supports the first research university in the U.S. The work explores the many ways that history is made, documented, silenced, or foretold, and indicates the artist’s deep concern for the construction of an archive. Julien seeks to create a “third dimension,” a space that draws from Afro-futurism and the past, present, and future of black culture in the U.S. Baltimore is curated by Asma Naeem, BMA Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator and generously sponsored by the Bunting Family Foundation. The piece was co-commissioned by the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; and FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology), in association with The Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Baltimore; The George Peabody Library, Baltimore; and Eyebeam Atelier, New York, and debuted at Baltimore’s Contemporary Museum in 2004.
Artists featured in Every Day will be explored in seven thematic groupings that explore ideas relating to history, ceremony, violence, material, gesture, shape, and self. Included are works by Stephen Towns, Andy Warhol, and Kara Walker that reimagine history; paintings by Ellsworth Kelly and Franklin White, a collage by Howardena Pindell, and prints by William T. Williams as part of the section examining shape; and works by Gary Simmons, Philip Guston, and Melvin Edwards exploring violence. Included among works on theme of the self is Amy Sherald’s Planes, rockets, and the spaces in between (2018), the first work created by the artist after her compelling portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama and the first painting of hers to depict figures in an outdoor landscape. In addition to these works and others drawn from the BMA’s extensive holdings, the museum is borrowing works from private collections to fill out the presentation and provide audiences a more nuanced look at the development of modern and contemporary art.
Every Day: Selections from the Collection is generously supported by PNC Foundation, Lois B. Feinblatt, Patricia Lasher and Richard Jacobs, and Mary and James Miller.
On September 29, 2019, the BMA will also open Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art, an exhibition that captures the significant contributions that black artists have made to the development of abstraction from the 1940s to the present. The exhibition will feature nearly 80 paintings, sculpture, and mixed-media installations by such notable artists as Kevin Beasley, Mark Bradford, Leonardo Drew, Jennie C. Jones, Norman Lewis, Alma W. Thomas, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Together, this incredible range of works explores the multifaceted power of abstract art as experimental practice, personal exploration, and profound political choice for decades of black artists.
About the Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 95,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.