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Spectatorship and Desire: Lust, Loss, Love
Spectatorship and Desire: Lust, Loss, Love.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.-Spectatorship and Desire, a three-part collection-based exhibition on display at the Frye Art Museum, explores the relationship between viewers and art as an object of desire. Using innovative exhibition strategies to explore the complex connections between consuming, collecting, memory, language, and the interpretation of art, Frye Chief Curator Robin Held demonstrates the relevance of the Charles and Emma Frye founding collection for contemporary viewers.

Spectatorship and Desire: Lust (through February 26, 2006) showcases 200 paintings from the Museum’s founding collection. Mounted salon style, as in the Fryes’ home, with floor to ceiling paintings hanging on mulberry colored walls in Galleries B and C, Lust is a striking visual experience. Visitors are invited to imagine the life of a collector. What is it that prompts avid spectators of art to take the leap to become passionate collectors? What sustains the desire to acquire and live intimately with works of art? What were the specific viewing habits of Charles and Emma Frye? How did their domestic sphere, where a mix of pedagogical value, personal eccentricity, and early twentieth-century conventions of art display, influence the way they collected works of art? And what motivates collectors to turn their private collection into a public gift?

Spectatorship and Desire: Loss (March 4, 2006—March 4, 2007). Since the Frye Art Museum opened its doors to the public in 1952, certain paintings have become beloved favorites. Museum visitors return again and again to view these works of art. What happens in the absence of a favorite painting? Does absence make the heart grow fonder, or with art, is it a case of “out of sight, out of mind?” Does one remember a beloved favorite, or do new desires arise? In Loss, viewers are invited to remember, in writing, some of the most popular paintings from the Collection, now dramatically removed from the galleries.

Spectatorship and Desire: Love (July 1, 2006—March 4, 2007). What does it mean to love a painting and just what is the painting one loves? If two of us love the same painting, say Alexander Koester’s Moulting Ducks (c. 1920s), long a favorite of Frye visitors, are we experiencing the same work of art? Love explores the idea that a favorite painting is as much a construction of memory and desire, as it is a response to the direct encounter between viewing subject and viewed art object. Love juxtaposes written viewer remembrances from Loss with favorite paintings from the Collection, now returned to the galleries in fresh positions.

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