Detroit Disassembled: Photographs by Andrew Moore

Detroit Disassembled:

Photographs by Andrew Moore

June 5, 2010 – October 10, 2010

Arnstein, Bidwell and Isroff Galleries

Andrew Moore’s photographs of the Motor City are sublime—beautiful, operatic in scale and drama, tragic yet offering a glimmer of hope. They are the subject of Detroit Disassembled, an exhibition organized by the Akron Art Museum making its debut here before touring nationally. Detroit, once the epitome of our nation’s industrial wealth and might, has been in decline for almost a half-century. The city is now one-third empty land—more abandoned property than any American city except post-Katrina New Orleans.

Moore’s images, printed on the scale of epic history paintings, belong to an artistic tradition that began in the 17th century. Numerous artists have used ruins to remind their viewers of the fall of past great civilizations and to warn that contemporary empires risk the same fate. Moore’s soaring scenes of rusting factory halls and crumbling theaters share the monumentality of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s 18th century engravings of the fallen civic monuments of ancient Rome and Greece. His photographs of skeletal houses and collapsed churches carry forward the Romantic tone and rich hues of Caspar David Friedrich’s 19th century paintings of fallen medieval cathedrals and castles. Although hard to believe that Moore’s post-apocalyptic scenes reflect present-day America, he has been scrupulously honest, creating photographs that are both documentary and metaphorical in nature.

This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by a major gift from Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell with additional support from the John A. McAlonan Fund of Akron Community Foundation. The accompanying publication is underwritten by Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell with additional funding from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

The Opening Party is supported by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Robert Weisberger.

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Arctic Re-visions: Isaac Julien’s True North

Arctic Re-visions:

Isaac Julien’s True North

June 5, 2010 – October 3, 2010

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

The sound and video installation True North (2004) is a journey into the beautiful yet terrifying midst of a sublime continent. Internationally acclaimed British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien immerses viewers in the haunting landscape of the North Pole, which has seduced scientists, explorers, writers and visual artists since the 19th century. This presentation of the three-screen multi-media installation will mark the debut of this important work from the museum’s collection.

Julien describes True North as a cinematic “re-memorizing” of the story of Matthew Henson, the black engineer who accompanied polar explorer Robert Peary in 1909 on the first expedition to reach the North Pole. The video’s narration is taken from a shocking interview Henson gave in 1966, in which, 30 years after Peary’s death, Henson claimed that he had reached the Pole before Peary.

Shot in Iceland, True North unfolds on three screens that span almost 40 feet. Images zoom in and out on the icy vistas to provide different perspectives on Henson’s journey. All the while mysterious and haunting sounds are layered with the voices and music to echo the vast, isolated landscape.

Nominated in 2001 for Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize for his artistic work, Julien also won an award for one of his documentary films at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989. Since 1983, he has created films, video installations and photographs that break down the boundaries between artistic disciplines.

This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by support from the Gay Community Endowment Fund, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the Harris-Stanton Gallery and The Welty Family Foundation.

Issac Julien: TRUE NORTH
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Welcome to the Akron Art Museum

Spanning three centuries, the Akron Art Museum combines a late nineteenth-century brick and limestone building with the twenty-first century John S. and James L. Knight Building, a soaring glass and steel structure by the celebrated Viennese architectural firm Coop Himmelb(l)au.

The brick building opened in 1899 as Akron’s main post office. Designed under the direction of James Knox Taylor, supervising architect for the Treasury Department, it has walls of deep red brick laid in the Flemish Bond pattern and adorned with limestone trim. Pairs of carved eagle medallions and bronze lanterns decorate its Market Street façade and a mosaic depicting a Pony Express rider is imbedded in its lobby floor. An outstanding example of the Italian Renaissance revival style, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Akron Art Museum moved into the building in 1981 after a major renovation by Cleveland’s Dalton, van Dijk, Johnson & Partners. The firm’s design won architectural awards for adaptive reuse.

The 2007 design by Coop Himmelb(l)au integrated approximately 21,000 square feet of the 1899 building with a new 63,300 square foot building. Coop Himmelb(l)au [] founded in 1968 by principals Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky, is renowned for its leadership in contemporary architectural theory and practice and its thought-provoking approach to the reinvention of existing buildings. The Akron Art Museum is the firm’s first public project in the United States and, while still under construction, received a 2005 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum.

The museum’s design employs innovative engineering to generate a structure that is highly functional and energy efficient but also visually spectacular, providing a new landmark for the city. Prix asserts, “The dream of the architect is to get rid of gravity.” Throughout the building are cantilevered, suspended and floating forms, as evidenced in its three main architectural elements. The “Crystal,” a three-story glass and steel lobby, is a focal point connecting the museum’s spaces while also serving the city as an indoor piazza. The “Gallery Box,” a flexible exhibition space clad in aluminum panels, appears to float due to its 52-foot cantilever. The “Roof Cloud” is a 327-foot long cantilevered steel armature extending over and embracing the old and new buildings and part of the street.

Notwithstanding its radical forms, the new building is respectful of the older structure. The Crystal leans toward it in an embrace while the Roof Cloud stretches above like sheltering arms or wings. To promote an even more dynamic dialogue between old and new, Prix removed part of the 1899 building’s south façade, opening the solid brick structure to activity in the new building and its urban setting.

Transparency and permeability are key characteristics of the Knight structure, just as they are important qualities of much early twenty-first century architecture. Coop Himmelb(l)au’s design opens the museum to the city and to the public, creating a cultural hub for the community and serving as a symbol for Akron’s embrace of the twenty-first century.

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Additional Artist Information: Travis Hetman

*This information is supplemental to the post*

Name: Travis Hetman
Age: 27
Currently working out of Denver by way of Minneapolis MN.
Studied art and art history at the University of Minnesota.

“My work is more or less a visual continuation of existential curiosity.  The treat of visual art to me is the privilege of making wild associations and the general lawlessness that comes with creative thinking.  I love art for it’s own aesthetic beauty but a main goal of my art is to unlock new ideas and ways of thinking, to learn something from painting and drawing that I otherwise wouldn’t–sort of the way dreams work.  Space is a common theme in my work and I use it as a visual motif because it represents possibly everything (the infinite) yet reads as a finite object on the visual plane. I enjoy visual contradictions like this in that they get one thinking about perception and how faulty it can be.  All philosophy and heavy thinking aside, there is always room for humor in the absurd and if this is found in my work, all the better.”

Favorite artist: Philippe Petit, a French high wire walker who writes poetry in the sky.
I find inspiration in existential literature, physics, the absurd, and always Tom Waits.
A few favorite visual artists include: Neo Rauch, David Schnell, Barry McGee

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