Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Curator's Eye

This is an installation photo from the Embarrassment
of Riches
 show, when it was on display at the
Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
I have become fascinated by the way art exhibitions are put together--and by the people who do that work.

As I see it, a contemporary art curator often functions as a sort of "meta-artist," when creating an exhibit.  The best bring together a group of artworks to create something with a meaning beyond the sum of the exhibition's parts.

A good case in point is Embarrassment of Riches: Picturing Global Wealth, 2000-2010, curated by David E. Little of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  It is on display at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS, not far from my home.  The show runs February 25-May 29, 2011.

Fondation Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent, Moujik IV,
 by Alec Soth, from the Embarrassment of Riches
show.  Moujik, the bulldog, takes center stage, with his
bodyguard at left.  Little noted that Moujik was at the show's opening in Minneapolis, September, 2010.
I jumped at the opportunity to listen to Little's discussion of the thinking behind the show's development, when he visited the campus on February 25.  He described his process of realizing that among the great themes in contemporary photography there is rarely any examination of the "cultural impact of wealth."

This led him to seek out images by artists who "have captured the different ways that wealth manifests itself visually," and bring them together into a show.  Sub-themes such as "Currencies," "Spaces," and "Ritual, Style, and Fashion" emerged as he gathered the images.

When my husband and I walked through the show after Little's discussion, we interacted not only with the beauty and insights of the individual pieces, but also with the cumulative effect of seeing them brought together in a deliberate way.
A Lunch at the Belvedere, by Luc Delahaye, from the Embarrassment of
show.  A group of businessmen join George Soros (center, in brown
jacket) and Pervez Musharraf, to his left, at a luncheon in Davos,
Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum in 2004.
Photos are from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts website.

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