The Krannert Art Museum, an atypical gem in an otherwise typical college town, has yet again managed to captivate our campus. As of January 29, the museum has housed four new exhibitions: Artists Including Me: William Wegman, MetaModern, Speculative Visions of Pragmatic Architectures and Versions and Revisions. The new exhibitions are bound together by their seemingly whimsical air which, upon further study, proves to be integrated with history and eclectic vision.
William Wegman, an alumnus of the University of Illinois, sets postcards as the subject of his work only to extrapolate a background from the original. “Licensed Vendor” depicts Wegman’s ability to transform the entire mood associated with a postcard by adjusting the colors and objects that he chooses to include in his extended background. Although the original postcard that he uses makes use of light colors reminiscent of Diagon Alley, Wegman’s rendition casts an eerie connotation on the painting, pushing one into the horrific Knockturn Alley (a painful experience many viewers may have vicariously endured through Harry Potter).
Perhaps the most eye-catching work of art by Wegman is the painting stretching across the entirety of one wall, “I Kadinsky.” He uses the aforementioned technique of imagining a background based on the limited information given in original postcards. In this work of art, Wegman allows us to loose ourselves in a myriad of places. We travel from Seneca, Arizona to Munich, Germany and forget, for an instant, about our own surroundings.
However, it is important to note that the eccentric nature of William Wegman has propelled him in many more directions. Wegman is incredibly well known for storybooks and pictures of his dogs. His tales have depicted sibling rivalry at its finest, as puppies Flo and Wendall wage war against one another over miniscule mishaps, to hair-raising mysteries solved by the Hardly Boys, a group of detectives in the most intimidating form known to mankind; Weimaraners. His Weimaraners make multiple appearances within this exhibit, captured by the use of a simple large-format Polaroid camera.
The other artists throughout the various exhibits further display this sort of idiosyncratic artwork. According to Judith Fox, the curator of the MetaModern exhibit – which took over five years to create – the most unconventional piece on display is “Triumph Over Survival.” The artist Olga Koumoundouros set a seat atop many pieces of Himalayan rock salt. These rocks act as lamps which would make this a “strange” piece, were it not for its mid-century modern companions within this exhibit.
Also featured in this exhibition is Fernanda Fragateiro’s “Double Chair after Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich” that, from afar, strongly resembles a simple lounge chair. Upon closer examination and a one-on-one interview with the artist, it appears that the structure is much more meaningful. “The first exhibition in Berlin… was my first time in Berlin…[I] had to do a project on German culture,” Fragateiro said. Her art links famous German architect Mies van der Rohe and designer Lilly Reich who had “a very close working relationship that …was almost forgotten,” she said. The foundation of this structure is comprised of two chairs, representative of Mies van der Rohe, who is credited with the original design of the seats depicted. The silk threads used in the structure allude to Lilly Reich due to her role in many of van der Rohe’s creations along with her consistent use of silk.
Fragateiro’s attention to detail is impeccable, a quality that is also present in the work of John Clem Clarke, which is displayed in the Versions and Revisions exhibition. Utilizing a technique known as sponge painting, Clarke replicates “Louis XIV” by Rigaud. Other revisions rely on alternating color schemes and mediums.
One such instance in which a different medium is used can be found in Roland Grass’ work (who produced certain pieces of art under the alias Archie Laun). Grass utilizes words in order to transcribe works by Manet and Malevich from paint to ink. Another work displayed in the Versions and Revisions exhibition is composed of four different photographs by Huang Yan, known as the “Four Seasons Series.” Each photograph consists of the same phase, yet covered with artwork representing a different season.
The final exhibition that opened on January 29 is Speculative Visions of Pragmatic Architectures. The faculty of the University of Illinois created the works presented in this exhibition. According to Professor Jeffrey Poss, the curator of this show, the architectural structures essentially embody “the notions and objectives of modernism,” particularly due to the advancements made with technology. Erik Hemingway’s designs are displayed as his work embodies modernist design tendencies, whether it is through space minimization or his use of sleek architectural shapes.
Another area of this exhibition demonstrates the relationship between technology and architecture. Hugh Swiatek, a professor at University of Illinois, provided work to demonstrate how incredibly advanced technology is utilized to create concrete products. More descriptive panels on the techniques used were hung to the walls so that viewers could better understand the technological process modern-day architects rely on.
The combination of Artists Including Me: William Wegman, MetaModern, Speculative Visions of Pragmatic Architectures and Versions and Revisions allows viewers to delve into a world consisting of Weimaraners, unorthodox furniture, advanced architectural techniques and stunning revisions of classic artwork. However, one can only experience this new world by physically exposing themselves to it. The Krannert Art Museum welcomes you.
Drop by the Krannert Art Museum to see the four new exhibitions listed above. The museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 am – 5 pm.