Tuesday, 23 October 2012 15:34

Things Get Real Surreal at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Written by  Jennifer Cuffman
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As the second installment of a three-year, three-exhibition partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Grand Rapids Art Museum opened its doors to Real/Surreal Oct. 19. By appropriating and recontextualizing American art from the '30s, '40s and '50s, Real/Surreal confronts viewers' expectation about the categories of realism and surrealism.

Real/Surreal
Grand Rapids Art Museum
Through Jan. 13, 2013
$5-$12, members free
artmuseumgr.org, (616) 831-1000

Serving on the boards of both the GRAM and the Whitney Museum, Pamella DeVos was instrumental in creating space for the two museums to discuss the partnership that brought the Rauschenberg exhibit to the GRAM earlier this year. GRAM Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen is thrilled about this opportunity to team up with the Whitney.

"We have this spectacular art museum building that is a gift to the city and what we need to do is keep bringing in spectacular exhibitions that both engage and challenge people that come to the museum," he said.

Real/Surreal is an exhibition that unquestionably fulfills this desire. Its unique combination of two seemingly different approaches to art helps create a new framework in which viewers see the potential overlap where the two categories break down. Curator Cindy Buckner hopes the viewers are able to engage the art in a new way.

"We would like people to start to see the similarities between the real and surreal art in ['30s, '40s and '50s] America," Buckner said. "Once you start seeing them together, you see an Edward Hopper next to a Man Ray or a Kay Sage painting, then you start to see sort of uncanny, strange aspects about the Hopper."

The exhibition is accompanied by an audio tour that includes commentaries by Buckner, the artists and a Grand Valley State University history professor. Three poems from the time period and three prose poems that were inspired by the pieces will be on display as well. This holistic presentation help create a new experience for these pieces from the first half of the 20th century.

Also showing is a small exhibition of 12 prints from the iconic surrealist, Salvador Dali, allowing viewers to compare and contrast Dali's European surrealism with the American art of Real/Surreal.

Pictured: (Top) George Tooker, The Subway; (Above) Man Ray, La Fortune.



OTHER ART EVENTS

20th Anniversary Tanglefoot Artists Studio Sale
Tanglefoot Building, Grand Rapids
Nov. 16 from 5 to 10 p.m.; Nov. 18 from noon to 5 p.m.
tanglefootstudio.com, Facebook event page, (616) 307-5377

This annual open-studio event, traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving, offers visitors access to artists' studios, as well as opportunities to informally meet the artists and purchase their artwork. Featured artists include Michael Pfleghaar, Elaine Dalcher, Nikki Wall, Tommy Allen, Alynn Guerra, Carlos Aceves, Jeff Condon, Cathy Marashi, Sandi and Tim Gunnett, Scott Naylor, Brant Raterink, Tim LaDuke and Deb Booth.

Body Double: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture
Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids
Through Jan. 6, 2013
meijergardens.org, (888) 957-1580

Since 1950, the body has been re-examined by sculptors in a more conceptual way. This exhibition focuses on the appropriation of the body in contemporary art, exploring the variety of concepts and materials that offer new experiences and ways of thinking about ourselves.

Asian Art from the Collection of Dr. Paul and Esther Wang
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Through Dec. 9
kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775

This exhibition features one of the area's best offerings of Asian paintings, prints and sculpture. The works come from the collection of internationally known painter, Paul Wang.
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