Think Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors is the only hot ticket on the DC art scene right now — think again. Here is your list of the top 5 DC art exhibits you should have already seen — and some are wrapping it up this month.
Kung Fu Wild Style
Where: The Sackler
When: Ends April 30, 2017
This is that art exhibit that you bring your friends who aren’t all that into art to. This is the gateway drug to the art world. That’s right — schmooze ’em up with a little line like “Oh my goshhhhhh you love hip hop and graffiti? SO DO I!!!!” — and BAM! They’ll never know what hit ’em. Art fiends for life…
This extremely well done exhibit expounds upon the “connections between African American and East Asian art, music, and film.” It exhibits famed graffiti artist Fab 5 Freddy and his works as well as details the influence that Bruce Lee and kung fu had on the emerging 1970’s hip hop scene as well as how the connection came full circle, with hip-hop later influencing an entire generation of Hong Kong street artists. It’s pretty dope.
Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque
Where: Phillip’s Collection
When: Ends April 30, 2017
For my fellow “artsy fartsy” groups out there (I, myself included) — I bring you The Phillip’s Collection exhibition of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (#lesigh). I kind of can’t breathe right now. Lautrec is known for his lithographic prints which were created in his Montmarte studio, an area well-known at the time for its “freedom and non-conformity” (think Le Chat Noir & Moulin Rouge).
The exhibition displays prints from nearly the entire scope of his lithographic career, images which “fashioned a portrait of modern life that captured the bohemian spirit of the belle époque, a time of vitality and decadence in France.”
Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism
Where: The National Gallery of Art
East Building, Concourse 1
When: April 9 2017 – July 9, 2017
Impressionism was the first art movement that sucked me in and swallowed me whole. If you’ve ever spent time daydreaming of a laissez-faire bohemian artist life within a Monet painting, this is the exhibit for you.
Bazille is widely considered a pioneer of impressionism despite his absence from the household names of his contemporaries, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. This exhibition (the first major US one in almost a quarter century) is a wonderful glimpse into the artist’s career in our very own gallery which “houses the largest group of Bazille’s works outside of France”.
The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: April 7, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Now this — this is definitely another must-see exhibition which is total NAF acceptable (non-artsy friends). This is a poignant and compelling glimpse into the stakes behind war which strips of the mask of normalcy. It confronts the viewer with what modern society has tried to normalize, keep masked and often times hide behind closed doors.
The exhibition, which is said to “reorient our view of war from questions of strategy and tactics to its personal and individual toll” features several dozen works from six artists ranging from photographs to drawings, paintings, sculptures, time-based media and site-specific installation pieces.
Where: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
When: July 9, 2016–June 4, 2017
When I first heard the name of this exhibit, I have to say my interest was definitely piqued to say the least. Chinamania. I had no idea what to expect. Turns out it was pretty insanely interesting. The exhibition takes its name from illustrator George du Maurier, who who had created a series of cartoons for Punch magazine, poking fun at the crazed mania over Chinese porcelain in the early-mid 1800s.
Now, over a decade and a half later, artist Walter McConnell explores this concept with his two large installation stupas made of “export wares from China’s Kangxi period (1662–1722)”.
The oddly shaped and irregular sculptures analyze themes of consumption, replication and mass production while conveying “a sense of unsustainable luxury and excess” while echoing the artist’s “interest in the interplay of creativity, the mass production of aesthetic objects, and the powerful forces of materialism and conspicuous consumption.”