The visual language of advertising teases the imagination and tempts the senses. Chromed, streamlined cars convey speed and power. Brightly colored, glistening candies spark our appetite. Smooth and polished furniture gleams with the possibility of a more stylish home and lifestyle. With elements that emphasize a tactile experience, images from mass culture exceed the visual to kindle all the senses.
The potent rise of this type of advertising imagery in the late 1950s and early 1960s inspired a new form of fine art. This modern movement--soon coined pop art--utilized the visual vocabulary of advertising and embraced its culture of consumerism. "Coca-Cola, ice-cream sodas, big hamburgers, super-markets and 'EAT' signs . . . They are eye-hungry. They pop," noted artist Robert Indiana. By mirroring the language of mid-century advertising, which appealed to the senses, pop art was poised to elicit a visceral response. As Indiana stated, it aimed to create work that is "eye-hungry."
This exhibition examines the sensory language of pop art. Created by America's most famous pop practitioners, the 73 works of art in this exhibition demonstrate the way in which pop art shattered the division between high culture and everyday experience, not only through subject and process but also by enticing the viewers' sensations.
Drawn from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, Shiny, Sticky, Smooth features the work of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg, and more. The bold and graphic work by these exceptional artists re-stages the traditional story of pop art as a full-sensory experience, leading visitors to a new perspective on the movement and to a deeper understanding of mass culture. As Andy Warhol noted, "Once you 'got' pop, you could never see a sign again the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again."
Shiny, Sticky, Smooth: Pop Art and the Senses, Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation has been organized by the Wichita Art Museum with the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Support for the exhibition and related educational and outreach programs has been made possible by a grant from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. The DeVore Foundation contributed additional support as the lead sponsor for the Wichita presentation. Charles Baker as well as Sondra Langel and Richard Smith are major exhibition supporters. Eric Engstrom and Robert Bell, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, Helen and Ed Healy, Jeff Kennedy and Patti Gorham, and Trish Higgins also provided exhibition funding for Wichita. All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and City of Wichita.
On view in the Louise and S.O. Beren Gallery and John W. and Mildred L. Graves Gallery
Named after the 2016 census-bureau population of Wichita, the exhibition 386,552 explores the unique artistic scene of the city and the ways in which the arts are vital to Wichita's community and culture.
Through permanent collection objects that celebrate the city and unique insight into the history of the arts in Wichita, 386,552 celebrates the art and artists that have helped to make Wichita a vibrant place to live.
In partnership with ICT Army of Artists--a collective of creatives, activists, and provocateurs connecting with Wichita neighborhoods and engaging people in innovative cultural interventions--the exhibition will feature two art-vending machines that will distribute art from seven local artists. Individual works of art will be featured in the machines for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, the next work will be featured.
Vending machines will feature artwork by Kelsy Gossett, Trishelle Jeffery, Darren Jones, Celestino Kirigami, Jack A. Sailor, Christian Taylor, and Wendi Valladares.
This summer, the Wichita Art Museum is pleased to present Jesse Alexander: The Golden Age of Motorsport, a selection of Alexander’s most famous images from classic races of the formative decades of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
For over 50 years, Jesse Alexander traveled the world documenting motorsport’s most iconic races, legendary drivers, and memorable moments. Alexander's eye for the full picture--setting, action, and style--as well as his impeccable timing have created an artistic portfolio that is unrivaled in the photographic world. Alexander's photographs capture the alluring cars as well as the entire range of emotions in the world of racing--the adrenaline of the speedway, the enthralled crowds, the laser-focus of the racing teams.
The exhibition gives visitors the chance to explore beauty and danger of motorsport through more than 70 of Alexander's prize-winning images. Though his work has been shown in New York, Los Angeles, and throughout Europe, WAM's exhibition will be the first solo show by the artist in the Midwest.
On view in the Paul Ross and the Scott and Carol Ritchie Gallery
Printmaking is a diverse and exciting medium. This series of exhibitions--featuring works of art from the Wichita Art Museum collection--explores the endless variety of creative efforts that fall under the category of printmaking.
This first exhibition in the series, Printmaking is Imaginative, explores artists' use of varied techniques to create vivid, absorbing works of art that explore imaginative subjects.
On view in the Vollmer Gallery.
Past and Present: Wichita's Legacy and Today's Creatives is a series of exhibitions organized in celebration and recognition of the city's artistic heritage.
These exhibitions trace the beginnings of our thriving art community and highlight artists that continue to have an impact on our current arts scene.
The first exhibition in this series highlights Bruce Moore. Sculptor and designer Bruce Moore’s sleek sculptures exemplify the Art Deco style--a mix of the dynamism of the jazz age and the speed of the machine age.
"To give a drawing, sculpture, or painting a life or spirit...is the most important thing," noted the artist.
This exhibition celebrates Moore's signature style and its echoes in today's Wichita arts scene--especially in the sculptures of featured Wichita artist, Connie Ernatt.
On view in the DeVore Gallery.
Every work of art has a story to tell.
When John Steuart Curry was growing up in on his family farm near Dunavant, Kansas, he would often wander into the high fields of corn. "I remember," he wrote, "wandering through them and being over-powered by the fear of being lost in their green confines."
At 35 years of age, Curry returned to those fields to capture in his work the same sense of drama he felt, "beneath our windblown Kansas skies." For Curry, Kansas Cornfield represented the story of his youth on a Kansas farm.
When Curry's Kansas Cornfield entered WAM's permanent collection, a new chapter in its tale was written and a new story began. The work was the first painting collected by the Wichita Art Museum. As the foundational work of art for the new museum, the painting came to symbolize WAM's commitment to both the highest caliber American art and to Kansas audiences.
Today, Kansas Cornfield has become a part of many visitors' personal stories. Brett Zongker, an Associated Press journalist based in Washington D.C., recently featured the painting on his popular Twitter feed. As a self-described "son of Kansas," the painting represents home to Zongker.
Museums, by their very nature, are repositories of incredible stories. The Wichita Art Museum has introduced its visitors to the best American artwork and has been a part of thousands of engaging stories. In celebration of the museum's upcoming 80th anniversary in 2015, Storytelling, a reinstallation of the permanent collection, celebrates the histories, mysteries, and anecdotes that make the Wichita Art Museum collection unlike any other.
Each and every one of WAM's objects has a story to tell. What influenced its creation? Who is pictured? How did the work come to Wichita? Storytelling invites visitors to take another look at familiar favorites from the collection as well as important works that have been off view for many years. We hope that the artworks inspire a meaningful encounter with the past, one that is relevant to everyone's personal story today.
On view in the Louise Caldwell Murdock Gallery, Elizabeth S. Navas Gallery, and the Excel/Cargill Cares Gallery.
Reimagined anew and opening in April, the museum presents a compelling arrangement of the distinguished and growing glass art collection. For the new display, the museum consulted with the Seattle-based independent curator and craft scholar Vicki Halper.
Notably, Halper curated WAM's popular 2014 summer exhibition Australian Glass Art, American Links for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.
Revealing WAM's rich holdings , the variety, quality, and artistry of Steuben glass will be presented. In fascinating ways, the exquisite work of the Steuben Glass Works, the world-class glass manufacturer (1903—2011), continues to beguile and inspire artists. The new installation will acknowledge and examine how contemporary glass artists explore the continuing allure and legacy of Steuben. Magnificent work by such living artists as Dante Marioni and Kiki Smith will be on view.
The new collection display also features a new commission--an elaborate, Steuben-inspired candelabrum--by glass artist Andy Paiko. This special work will be effervescent! It incorporates an abundantly enthusiastic array of forms and techniques first developed by Steuben. Paiko's tapering candle holders that hang gracefully from the central form, each demonstrate the Steuben "air-twist" technique, perfected by designer George Thompson. The cinched, bell-shaped forms of upper part of the large-scale candleholder are typical of Thompson's designs. WAM's collection includes original sketches by Thompson during his time working for Steuben, making Paiko’s re-imagining of Thompson's forms particularly relevant to the collection.
On view in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery.
Dr. Robert Burnstein, a Detroit psychiatrist, began collecting glass in the 1980s. He was attracted to American glass of the 19th and 20th centuries because, as he stated, "it was a time when handcrafted expertise and precision craftsmanship were the benchmarks of the American glass industry."
Soon he came to find that among American companies, the glass produced by Steuben was unsurpassed in quality, color intensity, and breadth of design.
Therefore, he focused his collecting first on Steuben, then on candlesticks in particular. He concentrated on candlesticks given their elegance of design and great variety of their colors and decorative techniques. Dr. Burnstein has presented his collection in honor of his parents, Donald and Arlene Burnstein.
On view in the Lulu H. Brasted Board Room.
Charles Russell was one of the great painters of the American West. With little formal training but much firsthand experience of his subject, he captured the western landscape, wildlife, cowboys, and Indians in all of its wild if nostalgic moments.
In 1880, when he was only 16, Russell went to Montana for the first time to work on a family friend’s ranch. Ranch life was not for Russell, but he would stay in Montana for two years working for a hunter and trapper.
He began to draw and paint animals at this time and learned a great deal about their anatomy. In 1882, he went to work as a night herder for a group of cowboys called the Judith Basin Roundup, and on and off for the next 11 years he would work watching cattle by night and painting during the day.
In 1888, Russell returned to St. Louis for a short time and submitted some of his art to Harpers Weekly, where it was published. His work had become very popular in the Montana territory, and he began to sell pieces and take commissions for works when he returned.
With the advent of the railroad to Montana, the territory became more civilized, and Russell mostly gave up cowboy life in order to become a full time painter of the life he had known in the West that was now slowly fading.
On view in the Charles M. Russell Gallery.
The term salon style derives from the exhibition of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which began in 1667 in Paris.
In order to display work by all the Academy's students, the paintings were hung as close as possible from floor to ceiling. In the nineteenth century, this salon-style hanging became increasingly popular across Europe and in the United States. The gallery has been transformed into an American salon featuring remarkable 19th-century paintings from the museum's permanent collection.
On view in the Carlene and Lee Banks Rotunda Gallery.
This display showcases WAM's unique collection of Pre-Columbian art. These sculptures and vessels in terra cotta and stone represent the ancient Indian cultures of Mexico and Middle America including cultures such as the Maya and Aztec.
This collection complements the museum's outstanding American art collection by bridging the gap between the indigenous American cultures and the post-European cultural developments in America.
In Mesoamerican culture, pottery was appreciated as an artistic medium--a way people could express emotions and ideas--not solely as a utilitarian material. To make ceramic art, these ancient peoples gathered clay from local sources and formed shapes using only their hands by pinching or coiling the clay. After shaping the objects, they were placed in very hot, open fires and baked until hard.
On view in the Cessna Art Investigation Gallery.
The Living Room, an interactive gallery, is a lively space for the young (as well as the young at heart!) to explore their inner artist.
This bright and spacious area welcomes families in particular for art investigation and make-it/take-it art activities. The museum offers a variety of art projects--always linked to what's on view in the galleries. The fun art activities extend the experience of looking in the galleries to a tactile, physical activity of making. The museum supplies free materials.
This area is often bustling with action, particularly on Saturdays when WAM offers free admission to all. During the active Saturdays in The Living Room, art assistants welcome visitors, suggest different activities, guide the art-making projects, and overall help to enhance the encounters of museum-goers with the visual arts.