The High Museum of Art isn’t the only Georgia museum hoping to draw visitors with marquee names. The Georgia Museum of Art will have work by some of the 20th century’s best known abstract artists on view this fall.
This fall, the museum will host “Cercle et Carre and the International Spirit of Abstract Art,” the first major exhibition in the United States devoted to the art and activities of a group that staged a landmark exhibition in Paris in 1930. The show will run Oct. 12 through Jan. 5.
Cercle et Carre (which translates as Circle and Square) was founded in 1929 by Belgian artist and critic Michel Seuphor (1901–1999), Uruguayan-Catalan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia (1874–1949) and Catalan-American artist Pierre Daura (1896–1976). The group was founded as a reaction against Surrealism and promoted “structure and construction.”
The exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art, the first major U.S. exhibition focusing on Cercle et Carre, will be organized around some of the works that were shown at that original Parisian event, which included pieces by Hans Arp, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Leger and Wassily Kandinsky.
“The exhibition will allow visitors the opportunity to view a dynamic assembly of abstract works of art rarely seen as a group and seldom discussed in relation to one another for more than 80 years,” said Lynn Boland. Boland, who is the Pierre Daura Curator of European Art at the museum, is one of the organizers of the exhibition.
The exhibition has had a long gestation period. It goes back to at least 2003, when the museum was approached by Martha Daura, daughter of Pierre. She was looking for a home for the work of her father and for his archives.
Those archives include some fascinating pieces of history. “It was the perfect chance for us to use the Daura archive,” Boland said. “There’s a bullet fragment he pulled out of his arm with a knife during the Spanish Civil War, a letter from Margaret Mitchell and a lot of info about the formation of the group.”
The formation of the group held many mysteries for art history scholars, and the archive has shed new light on those days. Despite all this information, some things remain a mystery.
The organizers aren’t even sure of all the pieces that were shown in the original exhibition. “There are some who are so obscure, we couldn’t find them,” Boland said of the 126 artists in that 1930 show, but he sees the show as an opportunity to shine the spotlight on some forgotten artists. “My focus has always been abstraction, and there are artists in the show I’d never heard of. We hope the show will rekindle some interest in them and restore them to their place in these movements.”
Some of the artists in the show, however, are already very well known.
The piece that really excites Boland is by one of the show’s best-known artists. “The Kandinsky. That one just takes my breath away every time I see it. In the ’30s it went to the Guggenheim, then at some point later it ended up in a private collection. It hasn’t been seen by anyone, except those with access to that private collection, in 30 or 40 years. To share that is really, really exciting.”
“Cercle et Carre and the International Spirit of Abstract Art.”
Oct. 12-Jan. 5. Georgia Museum of Art. Located on the campus of the University of Georgia, the museum has been the official state museum of art since 1982. It moved to its current home in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex in 1996. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursdays. Free, suggested donation $3. 90 Carlton St., University of Georgia, Athens. 706-542-4662, georgiamuseum.org.
NOW ON VIEW
Pick of the Kiln: The Work of Michael SimonThrough Sept. 8. This exhibition features ceramic works that reveal the progression of Athens artist Michael Simon’s work over the course of his career. Simon began selecting one object after each firing later in his career after sending previous work to exhibitions, shops and fairs for almost a decade without keeping any. The exhibition features dozens of objects, some that simply appealed to Simon and other because they represent a desired form. Simon’s body of work features mostly functional objects. His interest in pottery originates from the role that pots play within the household, serving a utilitarian purpose such as food preparation, serving and storage. Sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey TaylorThrough Sept. 15. Original, creative, bold, athletic and gracious, Ann Bonfoey Taylor (1909–2007) was a recognized American tastemaker and accomplished sportswoman. Regularly featured in publications such as Vogue, Town and Country and Harper’s Bazaar, Taylor was known for her beauty, love of adventure and theatrical dash. In 2008, her extraordinary wardrobe of custom-made couture and personally designed sporting ensembles was donated to the Phoenix Museum of Art by Vernon Taylor Jr. and his family of Denver. Selected by Art and Antiques magazine as one of the top 100 art museum gifts of 2008, Taylor’s impressive collection features works by some of the most masterful fashion designers of the 1950s and 1960s, including Charles James, Madame Gres, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Fortuny. It is significant for both the quality of the designers and depth, as the numerous examples allow for a comprehensive look at each designer’s artistic process. Organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, “Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey Taylor” features more than 60 full ensembles and accessories that provide a comprehensive look at the wardrobe of a dynamic and sophisticated woman. Often designed by Taylor herself, the clothes demonstrate a refined personal style reflective of her outdoor savvy and gracious indoor elegance. Sponsored by the Adsmith, Agora, Global Escapes, Sonia Says, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
Recent AcquisitionsThrough Oct. 6. This exhibition highlights some works that have recently entered the collection, including gifts from Amalia Amaki, Gordon W. Bailey, Phillip and Juanita Greenspan, George-Ann Knox and Larry and Brenda Thompson. Artists featured include Casper Banjo, Chuck Close, Philip Guston, Winslow Homer, Clare Leighton, O.L. Samuels and Hale Woodruff. Sponsored by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.