What do a 17th-Century Dutch printmaker, the Edict of Nantes and two present-day Ithacans have in common? Quite a bit, actually. So do the political commentary and a urine sample from Louis XIV. Their unifying thread is on display at the Johnson Art Museum’s new exhibition, Romeyn de Hooghe: Virtuoso Etcher, a show of de Hooghe’s etchings in subject matters ranging from the commercial to the political.
The artists of the Bloomsbury circle were at once radical and conservative, intellectually adventurous and promiscuously imitative. The group centered around the writers and thinkers Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey, who dominated English high society around the early years of the last century; the circle sometimes included other luminaries such as T.S. Eliot, Bertrand Russell and E.M. Forster. A current exhibit at the Johnson Museum, A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections, features the often overlooked visual artists who informed the group’s development as a hotbed of sexual and ideological libertinage as well as the bedrock of upper-crust cultural strictures.
Art Made Money Made Art is a flashy exhibition in the best possible sense of the word. Installed in Tjaden Gallery from Feb. 16-20, it consists of two opposite walls of beautiful, labor-intensive lithography prints and slick painted-over-printed canvasses. The show is immediately eye-catching and ultimately visually and conceptually complex. But unlike some flashy contemporary art, these works can hold an audience long after their first dazzling impression.
Upon entering the Tjaden Experimental Gallery last week, one was greeted with an overwhelming sight: the formerly bare white walls were covered in lines upon unevenly spaced lines of blue tape, to a somewhat dizzying effect. Attempting to focus on a wall would be like viewing a Magic-Eye, while everything in the room appeared to be in constant movement. There were several disruptions to help one catch her bearings, however — a bare space on the wall where the tape diminishes around a corner, a clustered shape in an alcove or a gathering around an electrical socket. Remnants of the artist at work were left for the visitor to ponder, as well — a ladder, empty rolls of tape.
Considering the smorgasbord of violent photos from war zones that have been the keystone of coverage in Iraq lately, Chase Wilson’s exhibit in the Tjaden Experimental gallery, Coordinates, is a welcome change. Rather than the horrific sequences of torture that were shown prolifically in the media these past years, Wilson’s explorations of Iraq seem to provoke thought and question without heavy-handed imagery. Wilson ’12 is a freshman art major; his works, at first impression and further consideration, seem extremely mature and developed. Coordinates is a series of three paintings and one sculpture. The three paintings depict aerial views of various sites in Iraq: Baghdad, outside Al-Fallujah and Samarra.