Gibbes presents two special exhibits this winter

  • Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Gibbes Museum of Art presents two special exhibitions, Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection and The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston. In the main gallery, Romantic Spirits examines the core concepts of the Romantic Movement as it unfolded in fine art of the American South. In the Rotunda Galleries, The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston examines the influence of Japanese prints on the artists of the Charleston Renaissance period who found inspiration in the dynamic compositions and bold color schemes of woodblock prints created by masters of Japan’s ukiyo-e school. “These special exhibitions showcase the variety of influences on southern artists from the dramatic landscapes of the Hudson River School to the labor intensive woodblock printmaking techniques of Japan,” says Gibbes Museum Executive Director Angela Mack.

Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection

Having had its genesis in European literature and art, romanticism found its way into the cultural output of the young republic, both North and South. The same ideals that imbued the canvases of the Hudson River School also colored the art of painters who found their inspiration and audience below the Mason-Dixon Line. In this study of 32 artists, the exhibition delineates the historical, social, and cultural forces that profoundly influenced their aesthetic sensibilities. Spanning the years 1810-1896, Romantic Spirits includes 35 paintings from the Johnson Collection. “This diverse compilation of paintings — ranging from heroic portraits of individuals and dramatic history paintings, to magnificent, picturesque landscapes created by artists and explorers — truly captures the spirit of an era,” says Sara Arnold, curator of collections, Gibbes Museum of Art.

The Johnson Collection was established by Spartanburg natives, George Dean Johnson, Jr., and Susan (Susu) Phifer Johnson, passionate philanthropists committed to enhancing the educational environment and cultural vibrancy of their hometown, state and region.

Accompanying the exhibition is the publication, “Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection.” Written by noted art historian Estill Curtis Pennington, the lavishly illustrated, 168-page volume examines the core concepts of the romantic movement as it unfolded in fine art of the American South. Romantic Spirits includes insightful illustrated biographies on the featured artists, as well as extensive bibliographic resources.

Special exhibition tours

Thursday, Jan. 30, 2:30 p.m.: Guided tour led by local artist West Fraser

Thursday, March 6, 2:30 p.m.: curator-led tour


The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston

In Charleston — as in many other American arts communities — a fascination with Japanese art and culture washed over the city in the early decades of the twentieth century. The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston features 35 works from the Read-Simms Collection of Japanese prints accompanied by works produced by Charleston artists including Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Alfred Hutty, Anna Heyward Taylor, and Antoinette Guerard Rhett. The exhibition highlights significant prints created by masters of Japan’s Ukiyo-e school and examines the influence of Japanese printmaking on the artists of the Charleston Renaissance (1915 to 1945) who found inspiration in the prints’ dynamic compositions and bold color schemes.

Special tours and programs

Thursday, Feb. 20, 2:30 p.m.: Guided tour with Barbara Duval, professor of art, College of Charleston

Thursday, March 20, 2:30 p.m.: Guided tour with Sara Arnold, curator of Collections

Saturday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Make Your Own Wave: curator-led tour and woodblock printing demonstration

Join Gibbes curator Sara Arnold for a private tour of The Great Wave: Japonisme in

Charleston. Then, make your way to Redux Contemporary Art Center for lunch and a woodblock printing demonstration led by artist Kate MacNeil. You will even get to make your own print! Registration required.

$40 Museum and Redux Members, $45 Non-Members (transportation not included)

Saturday, Feb. 15, 5 p.m.: Asian Fusion: Japanese Printmaking and the Culinary Arts

Join Gibbes curator Sara Arnold and Southern Seasons Cooking School staff for an exploration of Japanese cuisine inspired by the works on view in The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston. Location: Southern Seasons, 730 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant.

Registration required.

$45 tickets

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