Current Exhibitions

Norma Bassett Hall, Old Sycamore, 1942. Color block print,
13 1/2 x 11 1/8 inches. Courtesy Lockhart Family Collection

Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Prints of Norma Bassett Hall

Guest-curated by Dr. Joby Patterson, Chipping the Block is the first one-woman exhibition of artist Norma Bassett Hall's work since her death in 1957.

Born in Oregon, Bassett Hall studied at the Portland Art Association and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1922, she married Arthur Hall, who had been a fellow student at the Art Institute, and the couple settled in El Dorado, Kansas.

It was during these early years in Kansas that Bassett Hall explored the artistic possibilities of woodblock printing. 1930 marked the launch of the Prairie Print Makers, with Bassett Hall as the only female founding member. In her work, Hall employed line, color, and pattern with delicate skill, using up to seven blocks for each print.

On view in the Kurdian Gallery.

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Ethan Turpin, Snowball Fight with a Polar Bear, Arctic Circle, 2012. Chromogenic print on stereocard, 3 1/2 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist

Five Alchemists: Contemporary Photographers Explore 19th-Century Techniques

As the technical revolution of digital photography explodes, some artists have turned away from the speed and ease of digital imagining.

The five artists chosen for this exhibition--David Emitt Adams, Jody Ake, Ethan Turpin, Heidi Kirkpatrick, and Eric Mertens--explore previously abandoned forms of chemical photography.

Going back to 19th-century manuals, these artists rediscover and reinterpret the techniques and magic of photography's pioneers for today's world.

On view in the Paul Ross Gallery and Scott and Carol Ritchie Gallery.

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Unknown Maker, Clown, about 1850–55. Daguerreotype, 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc. © Nelson Gallery Foundation

Photographic Wonders: Daguerreotypes from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Wonderful wonder of wonders!!...Here is a revolution in art!

This was the American reaction to the invention and introduction of the photographic daguerreotype in 1839. This winter exhibition presents 82 of the best daguerreotypes from the prized collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, now more than 6,500 strong. Wichita museum-goers will explore the advent of photography in these charming, imaginative historical photographs. Daguerreotypes reflect magical bits of reality from a bygone era. Well over a century later, they still hold wonder and appeal.

The daguerreotype was at once a science and an art, a documentary tool and a charged emblem of emotion and memory. Very early daguerreotypes are enchanting but technically crude: exposures took many minutes and the images are relatively faint. Rapid progress was achieved as practitioners explored the invention’s commercial potential, especially its use in portraiture. In 1840–1842, exposure times were reduced from minutes to seconds, and the tones of the images were greatly improved. The potentials of photography as we know it today were explored in the daguerreotypes of the 1840s and 1850s.

The Wichita presentation will be a reduced selection from the landmark show that opened the new wing at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in 2007. Hallmark Cards developed a world-class early photography collection of 6,500 works that the company donated to the museum as the Bloch Building opened. The scholarly reception of the exhibition and accompanying catalogue has been resoundingly positive and noted as "an unparalleled historical collection of American photography." Wichita audiences will be so impressed by these gems, the accessible learning, and the creative gallery presentation.

This exhibition has been organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

On view in the John W. and Mildred L. Graves Gallery and the Louise and S.O. Beren Gallery.

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Pairpoint Glass, Candlestick (one of a pair), about 1920–1925. Blown glass, 10 1/16 x 5 3/16 inches. Gift of Robert S. Burnstein

Catching Light: Selections from the Wichita Art Museum's Burnstein Collection

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, currently on view in the Lulu H. Brasted Board Room.

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Billy Morrow Jackson, Reading, 1979–1980. Oil on Masonite, 47 1/4 x 71 1/4 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Purchased with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald C. Slawson

Ordinary Extraordinary: Billy Morrow Jackson

Billy Morrow Jackson's sensitive depictions of the everyday are at once beautifully simple and engagingly complex.

Describing his process, the artist noted, "It all springs from the initial feeling...there is something that sort of halts you like a movie suddenly stopping."

In Jackson's work, single moments are drawn out to a heroic scale until, in the final work, time appears perfectly suspended and every realistic detail is visible. In the artist's hands, a simple scene of a prairie home, a city street, or a quiet pastime yields a deeper expression of everyday life.

On view in the DeVore Gallery.

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John Steuart Curry, Kansas Cornfield, 1933. Oil on canvas, 60 3/8 x 38 3/8 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Roland P. Murdock Collection

Storytelling: Highlights and Insights from the Wichita Art Museum Collection

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.

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Thomas Moran, The Waterfall, 1857. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 40 1/2 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Robert M. Beren and Joan S. Beren Foundation

An American Salon: 19th-century Paintings from the Wichita Art Museum's Permanent Collection

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.

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Steuben Glass, A division of Corning Glass Works (Kiki Smith, designer), Tattoo Vase, 2007. 16 1/4 x 8 1/2 inches. Engraved lead glass. Museum Purchase, F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust, Intrust Bank, Trustee

Steuben Glass from the Wichita Art Museum Collection

The Wichita Art Museum holds the largest collection of Steuben glass outside the Corning Museum of Glass, the museum in the city of the former Steuben Glass Works (Corning, New York), and features an impressive selection of the Dr. Robert S. Burnstein Collection.

On view in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery.

 

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