Recent acquisitions by the Cleveland Museum of Art
include an important watercolor by Paul CÚzanne; a mixed-media artwork by Rashid Johnson and three sculptures from Melvin Edwardss series, Lynch Fragments, that build upon the CMAs commitment to diversifying its collections.
Footpath in the Woods
Watercolor by Paul CÚzanne is a new highlight in the CMAs internationally recognized collection of works on paper
The acquisition of Footpath in the Woods, a watercolor by Post-Impressionist Paul CÚzanne, builds upon the CMAs internationally recognized stature as a repository of important 19th-century French art.
With its innovative depiction of a trail traversing a forest at the Jas de Bouffan, an estate CÚzanne inherited from his father, Footpath in the Woods exemplifies the artists groundbreaking practice. He used selective strokes of watercolor from a limited palette to suggest light and shade, and allowed work in graphite in combination with the papers whiteness to construct the image. The result is a seemingly unfinished work that was in fact carefully rendered through a process that did not allow for revision.
The subject of Footpath in the Woods is CÚzannes most characteristic; he depicted and reinterpreted the chestnut tree forests of the Jas de Bouffan in various media throughout much of his life. This experimental approach allowed CÚzanne to interrogate vision itself, as if to suggest that seeing occurs just as much through absence as it does presence. The compositions balance of abstraction and representation, as well as its experimental style, make Footpath in the Woods an ideal example of the artists watercolors.
Although the CMA has three paintings and several drawings and prints by the artist, Footpath in the Woods is the first watercolor by CÚzanne to enter the museums collection and will be highlighted in the forthcoming exhibition and publication Nineteenth-Century French Drawings at the Cleveland Museum of Art, on view from January 20 through April 30, 2023.
Standing Broken Men by Rashid Johnson
Long Term, └ Lusaka and Miliki by Melvin Edwards
Works by Rashid Johnson and Melvin Edwards expand the CMAs representation of works by African American artists
Standing Broken Men (2021) by Rashid Johnson is an important addition to the CMAs contemporary collection and meaningfully advances the museums goal of diversifying its holdings.
At the center of a frenzied mosaic, an abstract, fractured figure stares wide-eyed at the viewer. Standing Broken Men and a related series of mosaic works grew out of Johnsons Anxious Men and Anxious Audiences series (201518). As Standing Broken Men exemplifies, Johnsons latest works continue to represent the experience of anxiety by composing figures through fragmented shards of ceramic and mirrored tiles. Through this technique, brokenness is inherent in the figures and the worlds they inhabit. However, their pieces are reassembled into a dynamic colorful whole, suggesting the possibility for healing and renewal. As with much of Johnsons work, Standing Broken Men can be interpreted as a poignant reflection on the time when it was made, defined by a global pandemic and a heightened reckoning with racial inequality. Standing Broken Men comes to the museum as a generous gift from Agnes Gund in honor of Helena Huang.
Alongside recent acquisitions by artists such as Robert Colescott, Simone Leigh, Emma Amos and Wadsworth Jarrell, among others, Standing Broken Men expands the range of narratives surrounding African American experiences on view at the CMA. This monumental work also complements three prints by Johnson from his Anxious Men series that the museum acquired in 2020 (2020.77, 2020.78 and 2020.79). Together, they capture the innovative evolution of Johnsons art across media.
Standing Broken Men will be on view in Tobys Gallery for Contemporary Art (229A) beginning in late March 2022.
Long Term (1980), └ Lusaka (1982) and Miliki (1987) by Melvin Edwards further enhance the CMAs commitment to diversifying its collections and presenting a broad range of histories in its galleries.
Long Term, └ Lusaka and Miliki belong to an ongoing series, Lynch Fragments, that Melvin Edwards began in 1963. The Lynch Fragments are relatively small-scale, abstract metal wall reliefs that feature recognizable objectsoften objects that could serve as weapons, such as chains, knives and railroad spikes. Through Edwardss composition and welding technique, familiar elements lose their functional associations and yield innovative sculptural shapes. These forms reveal Edwardss influences, which range from Western modernist sculpture and jazz to traditions of African metalsmithing.
The series title, Lynch Fragments, the artist has explained, is reflective of his intention to encourage consideration of the violence and destruction wrought by racism in and beyond American society. The title is not, he has said, to be taken literally; from the outset he determined that the series would never depict narrative scenes or recognizable figurative imagery. Even without literal scenes of violence, the works invite a direct confrontation with the viewer; they are displayed at eye level and protrude off the wall into the viewers space.
Through the Lynch Fragments series, Edwards combines his commitment to abstraction with his investment in the social and racial histories unfolding outside his studio walls. In this sense, his work shares attributes with peers that include David Hammons, Jack Whitten and Martin Puryear, whose works are represented in the CMAs collection and offer rich context for this acquisition.