SLAM to bring international focus to St. Louis in 2020

Lydia McKelvie | Staff Writer

Ramping up to one of its most ambitious years yet, the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM) has announced a slew of exciting and innovative exhibitions in 2020. Visitors to the museum will be able to see two major international exhibitions of European art. This will be accompanied by many new installations as part of the “New Media” and “Currents” series, as well as textiles and works on paper. These exhibitions signify the institution’s clear intentions to educate the public while showcasing diverse perspectives.

The first international exhibition of the year will be titled “Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí,” on display Feb. 16 to May 17. This exhibition is intended to educate viewers about 19th-century artist Jean-Francois Millet, who was one of the most well-known painters of his era and has largely been forgotten by the public. It also seeks to show Millet’s influence, which can be seen in art across the western world well into the 20th century. The exhibit is co-curated by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art at SLAM, and Maite van Dijk, senior curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. This exhibition will be ticketed but is free to the public on Fridays and offers reduced prices for students at other times.

Museé d'Orsay

“The Angelus” by Jean-Francois Millet, one of the paintings to be featured in the new exhibit.

The next major exhibition at SLAM will be “Paintings on Stone: Science and the Sacred, 1530-1800,” on display Oct. 25, 2020 to Jan. 17, 2021. This particular exhibition has been in the works since the museum purchased Cavaliere d’Arpino’s “Perseus Rescuing Andromeda”—a painting on lapis lazuli—in 2000. It seeks to explore the methods and meaning behind the stone-painting phenomenon of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It will include over 100 works by 58 artists and will showcase 34 different types of stone. This highly ambitious and anticipated exhibition is curated by Judith Mann, curator of European art of the 19th century at SLAM, and will travel to the National Gallery in Prague after its time in St. Louis.

The museum will also be continuing its “New Media” series as part of its efforts to showcase film and video as “an integral part of contemporary art practice,” according to a recent press release from the museum. “Fainting Spells” by artist Sky Hopinka will be presented Jan. 21 to April 26, and will feature the artist’s “focus on indigenous languages and narratives.” Also featured is “Incense, Sweaters & Ice,” a three-channel film by artist Martine Syms, which will be on display May 8 to Aug. 30, and will examine “representations of Blackness and its relationship to mainstream culture, feminist thought and radical traditions.”

The museum will also be continuing its “Currents” series, which promotes emerging and mid-career artists by providing resources for the creation and exhibition of new work. “Currents 118,” on display April 3 to Sept. 27, will showcase the work of Ethiopian artist Elias Sime, who creates large-scale sculptural works from found objects which often reference traditional Ethiopian textiles. Later in the fall of 2020, “Currents 119” will feature works by Israeli multimedia artist Dana Levy, whose work explores the relationship between humans and nature, addressing the “human instinct to control the environment and subdue the ‘wild.’” Her “Currents” exhibition will examine the built environment of St. Louis.

Additionally, the museum will be showcasing works of textile in the summer of 2020 as part of the exhibition “Woodlands Art from St. Louis Collections,” which will feature Native American works from the Woodlands region, which comprises a large portion of the eastern half of the United States. There will also be an exhibition of works on paper by Buzz Spector, a St. Louis-based artist who tears apart found text and images as a method to transform them. In December of 2020, there will be an exhibition of Architectural Photography, which will feature approximately 65 photographs providing an overview of the vast and varied field.

There are also numerous ongoing exhibitions on display going into 2020, including “Javanese Batik Textiles” until May 3, “the Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection” until March 22, “Currents 117: Dave Hullfish Bailey” until March 8 and “Japanese Art of the Rinpa School” until April 26.

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