When we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to beauty, craft, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, expression and emotion.

The Gibbes Museum of Art Announces 2021 Special Exhibitions

People looking at framed photographs

Today, the Gibbes Museum of Art announced its schedule of special exhibitions coming to the museum in 2021. From photography to abstract collage, this lineup of exhibitions features various mediums encouraging visitors to engage and learn about new art forms and genres.

“We are eager to present these preeminent exhibitions at the Gibbes,” says Angela Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. “The museum strives to display collections which allow our community to connect with art in new and exciting ways, challenge interpretations and encourage freedom of thought. We will continue to keep COVID-19 related safety measures in place to ensure our visitors can enjoy these exhibitions and our permanent collection safely, for the foreseeable future.”

Special Exhibitions Coming to the Gibbes:

Manning Williams: Reinventing Narrative Painting

January 22 – April 18, 2021

Reinventing Narrative Painting is the first major retrospective of Manning Williams’s work since his death in 2012.  The exhibition will be accompanied by a book published by Evening Post Publishing and will travel to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA. Williams’s paintings are rooted in the history, traditions, and terrain of the South Carolina Lowcountry. A Charleston native and lifelong resident, Williams earned degrees from the College of Charleston and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His highly personal approach to realist painting emphasized storytelling and was fueled by an interest in portraying subjects that he found on the periphery of the city and along the barrier islands. Western subjects also commanded Williams’s attention, and during the later years of his career, his concern with narrative was expressed in a more abstract style. Reinventing Narrative Painting features 30 paintings from Williams’s prolific career that spanned more than 40 years.

In Body and Soul: The Figure in Modernist Photography

January 22 – April 18, 2021

Drawn from the Robert Marks Collection, this exhibition features 30 photographs by renowned 20th-century photographers. From Alfred Stieglitz’s intimate composite portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe to Lewis Hine’s depictions of American laborers, modernist-era photographers radically shifted how the human body was captured on film and for what purpose. Employing a variety of techniques from cropping and zooming, to distortion and framing, modernist photographers explored the human figure for social, performative, voyeuristic and documentary purposes. Highlights include the work of Stieglitz, Hine, Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, George Platt Lynes and László Moholy-Nagy.

Lasting Impressions: Japanese Prints from the Read-Simms Collection

April 30 – October 4, 2021

The Gibbes Museum of Art is home to one of the most significant collections of Japanese woodblock prints in the Southeast. This exhibition will present 60 exceptional and rare prints amassed by Charleston collector, Motte Alston Read, and his sister, Mary Read Hume Simms of New Orleans, during the first decades of the 20th century. The Read-Simms Collection reflects the full range of popular print subjects by master Ukiyo-e artists of the Edo period, from famous Kabuki theater actors portrayed by Suzuki Harunobu and Tōshūsai Sharaku in the 18th century, to vibrant landscapes by Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai in the 19th century. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog featuring entries by Japanese fine art specialist, Sebastian Izzard Ph.D., and an in-depth essay on the collectors.

Japonisme in Charleston: Alice Smith and Her Circle

April 30 – October 4, 2021

Early 20th century Charleston artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith was one of many American artists to react to the western dissemination of Japanese prints. In a companion exhibition to Lasting Impressions: Japanese Prints from the Read-Simms Collection the wave of enthusiasm for the Japanese aesthetic in Charleston will be explored through the works of Smith and other artists who embraced the tenets and techniques of Japanese art.

Romare Bearden: Abstractions

October 15, 2021 – January 9, 2022

With some 60 paintings, works on paper and collages, Romare Bearden: Abstractions is the first exhibition to fully examine and contextualize the artist’s significant body of abstract work. Recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden’s prolific and distinguished career spanned nearly 50 years. This exhibition also includes pieces created before and after his most direct engagement with abstraction (among these, the figurative collages for which he is most well-known). The exhibition emphasizes the importance of abstraction in the artist’s oeuvre, its significant contribution to the overall Bearden narrative and marks the artist’s place within the New York avant-garde of the 1950s-60s. This exhibition is organized by the American Federation of the Arts in collaboration with The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY.

Special Exhibitions Leaving the Gibbes in 2021:

Charleston Collects: Devotion and Fantasy, Witchcraft and the World’s End

Through June 27, 2021

This selection of Northern Renaissance paintings and prints, sourced from a major private Charleston collection, introduces a world of intensely, and sometimes disturbingly, vivid imagery. Created in the Netherlands and Germany between 1440 and 1590, this is a world of contradictions and unease—whether the subject is a troubled Virgin Mary contemplating her young son, or a menacing group of malevolent figures inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, or Albrecht Dürer’s famous scenes from Revelations. In the turbulent era of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Reformation in Northern Europe, viewers found their hopes, desires and anxieties mirrored in images like these inspiring pious beliefs or depicting fantastic visions of good and evil. Guest curation by Larry Goedde, Ph.D., professor of art history, University of Virginia.

For more information about these special exhibitions, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.

Published January 11, 2021

Top image: Photo by MCG Photography

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