Five new things to see
•“Exposure #9: N.Y.C., Grand Central Station, 12.18.01, 1:21 p.m.” (detail; 2001), by Barbara Probst
This recent addition to the museum’s Hallmark Photographic Collection by a young German artist is on view for the first time in the photography galleries in the Bloch Building.
Shown here in detail, it’s a big piece, composed of six, 51-by-34-inch images that portray a young woman walking across the floor of Grand Central Station.
“They’re all of the same thing but from different vantage points,” says the Nelson’s photography curator, Keith Davis. “They open up time and space and reshuffle the deck in an interesting way.”
“This is the first time we will have a comprehensive installation of our contemporary ceramics,” says Catherine Futter, the Nelson’s curator of decorative arts.
For the Bloch Building opening, Futter has assembled an overview of studio ceramics by Shoji Hamada, Otto and Gertrud Natzler and others whose work provides “a counterpoint to industrialization and mass production of ceramics in the mid-20th century.”
The display, which includes a slump jar (right) and a leaping hare charger by influential Kansas City ceramic artist Ken Ferguson, will appear in new cases specially fabricated by Goppion, an Italian firm that also designed the cases for the new African art galleries.
Heading south down the ramp, look for them in a niche across from the contemporary galleries.
•Personal Shrine Figure Nigeria, Igbo (ca. 1900). Wood and pigment.
Donald and Adele Hall are lending this personal shrine figure from Nigeria’s Igbo people for the Bloch opening. It comes from an ikenga, or sacred shrine dedicated to male power and individual achievement, and incorporates numerous symbols — ram’s horns, human trophy heads, a curved sword and a gun — that denote its owner’s success and military prowess.
•“Untitled (March 5th) #2” (1991), by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
The museum is holding back many of the new acquisitions it purchased with a $10 million grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation-Commerce Bank Trustee for a big-ticketed admission exhibition next year.
For the Bloch opening, the modern and contemporary galleries are featuring a few artworks that haven’t been shown before, including this one, which is a tribute to the artist’s lover, Ross, who died of AIDS.
•Side Chair: Model 420 and Children’s Chair: Model 426-2, by Harry Bertoia
Continuing the integration of fine and decorative arts that begin in the reinstalled European galleries, decorative arts curator Catherine Futter has placed two Harry Bertoia chairs in the modern and contemporary art galleries in the Bloch Building.
Futter didn’t buy them — she transferred them. The Nelson purchased the chairs in the 1960s for office and classroom use; recently Futter moved them into the decorative arts collection.
Made of steel, plastic-coated wire mesh and Naugahyde, the Bertoia Side Chair is “an icon of modern design and industrial design,” Futter said, “and it also reflected the interest in abstracted geometric style.”