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: What's New at the Museum?


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts acquired many new works of art last year to celebrate the reopening of the Museum. These accessions bring the total number of objects in the Institute's collection to nearly 100,000. A selection of the most notable new pieces from all seven of the museum's curatorial departments will be on view in the Cargill Gallery beginning this month. Previously, separate departments have mounted their own "Recent Accessions" shows. This year's combined exhibition, a new concept for the Institute, allows visitors to see at once the variety of art objects available throughout the Museum. From now on, the Cargill Gallery will be the site of a "Recent Accessions" exhibition every year to display the gifts and purchases that have been added to the Institute's collection.A carved ceremonial Kundu drum from the Iatmul people of the middle Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea is one of the highlights of the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas (see page 9). The Iatmul believe they were spawned by a huge crocodile and that the land they occupy is the back of this animal. The open-ended design carved into both sides of this hand drum represents the gaping jaws of two crocodiles, signifying the two major components of the cosmos—the sky and the earth. The handle, which links the two worlds, is also a crocodile. A remarkable addition to the Department of Asian Arts is a Korean double-gourd-shaped ewer from the twelfth century (see page 8). Korean potters of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392) excelled in making high-fired porcelaneous ware with a translucent celadon glaze. The beautiful shape of this vessel-with its bulbous neck, generously swelling body and elegantly formed spout and handle-is particularly noteworthy. Also on display is a Chinese bronze tou ritual food vessel from the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) The upper half, cast with three slender curving projections, served as tripod legs when the cover was inverted and used as a bowl. Although the Museum already has a large, highly regarded collection of ancient Chinese bronzes, this example was acquired because of its rare form, crisply cast decoration, and impressive size. On display from the Department of Decorative Arts, Sculpture, and Architecture is one of the earliest known dated English silver chocolate pots (see page 6). The Institute's example is by the well-known London silversmith George Garthorne and has the original owner's coat of arms emblazoned on its surface. The cut-card decoration on the cover, as well as the overall form inspired by a Chinese ginger jar, further enhances the aesthetic appeal and rarity of this object. It is a worthy addition to the James Ford Bell Collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English and American silver. One of the newly acquired paintings included in the exhibition is Portrait of a Young Boy, attributed to Samuel Miller (about 1835, pictured on the cover). The unidentified boy wears clothing appropriate for the 1830s, including pantaloons and black slippers. The Boston painter usually portrayed children full-length in a stiff, flatly delineated fashion. He enlivened his compositions with bold colors and ambient details such as family pets and pots of flowers. In the painting on display, the little boy is listening to his father's gold pocket watch. This detail suggests this is a posthumous portrait, one that hints the child's time has run out. An exceptional acquisition to the Department of Photography is a photogram by László Moholy-Nagy from about 1940. Moholy-Nagy was among the first artists to make photograms in the early 1920s. He apparently made this work by laying pieces of cut paper on a sheet of photographic paper and exposing it to the light. The result is an abstract composition of light and shadow, typical of this hands-on process that utilizes neither camera nor negative. A beautiful seascape by John Marin is one of a group of watercolors on display from the Department of Prints and Drawings (see page 7). An acclaimed early Modernist, Marin was known for his dynamic watercolors of New York City and the New England coast. In 1914, he first went to the state of Maine and regularly summered there after 1919. In The Sea, Maine (1921), Marin employs a series of rapid gestural brushstrokes and leaves large areas of the white paper bare to create an exciting composition that reflects the artist's lifelong love of the sea.A major addition to the Department of Textiles is a block-printed decorative panel created by a group of fiber artists working in Wisconsin in the 1930s and 1940s (see page 7). These artists used very basic applications such as block printing, as a reaction against the emphasis at the time on new technologies. This technique complemented the stylized Art Deco patterns. Lisa Dickinson Michaux is the John E. Andrus III Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Prints and Drawings."Recent Accessions at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts" will be on display in the Cargill Gallery from June 12 until October 3.Related ImagesGeorge Garthorne
English, active 1680-1730
Chocolate pot, 1686
Silver with wood handle
Gift of the James Ford Bell FoundationJohn Marin
American, 1870-1953
The Sea, Maine, 1921
Watercolor and charcoal
Gift of John and Myrtle CoeChinese, Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.)
Tou ritual food vessel, 4th-3rd century B.C.
Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAmerican, 20th century
Block-printed cotton
Gift of Mary McGovern and William WoodsLászló Moholy-Nagy
Hungarian, 1895-1946
Untitled, about 1940
Gelatin silver print (photogram)
Gift of Ralph Rapson and the Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison FundKorean, Koryo dynasty
Double-gourd-shaped ewer, 12th century
Glazed porcelaneous stoneware
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund and the Ellen and Fred Wells FundIatmul people
Papua New Guinea
Kundu Drum, 20th century
Wood and rope
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund
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Source: Lisa Dickinson Michaux, "What's New at the Museum?: The Institute's collection is growing. Here's a peek at a few of its newest treasures," <i>Arts</i> 22, no. 5 (June 1999): 6-9.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009