Artis-Naples, The Baker Museum opens 'George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue exhibition
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Artis-Naples, The Baker Museum opens 'George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue exhibition
Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886-1980). Pyramids at Gizeh, 1929. Oil on canvas, 34 5/8 x 51 1/8 in. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of the Friends of Art, 54-89.

NAPLES, FL.- Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum announces the opening of the exhibition George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue. The exhibition, which takes visitors on a tour through Gershwin’s visual dimension, will be on view through June 16, 2024. Gershwin is widely known and beloved for his innovative work as a composer, songwriter and pianist, but his passion and talents extended to the visual arts as well. Before his untimely death from a brain tumor at the age of 38, he produced numerous paintings, drawings and photographs, and his collection of modern art was one of the most significant of his day. The exhibition features paintings, sculptures and other artworks from George Gershwin’s collection of modern art; paintings, drawings and photographs created by Gershwin himself; and art by leading contemporary artists who were inspired by Gershwin and his music.

The culmination of more than 20 years of research, the exhibition is curated by Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., guest curator, and Courtney McNeil, museum director and chief curator. It was made possible through loans from museums around the world and important private collections, including those of the descendants of the various branches of the Gershwin family.

The Baker Museum Director and Chief Curator Courtney McNeil said she anticipates that the exhibition will open visitors’ eyes to the importance of visual art to Gershwin’s creative process. “Visitors will witness a convergence of artistic practices, where Gershwin’s boundless creativity leapt from composing to painting and back again,” McNeil stated. “Just as Gershwin was influenced by the works of leading modern painters and sculptors, so too did he inspire visual artists, both during his life and for generations to come.” Artists featured in the exhibition who were inspired by Gershwin and his music include Miguel Covarrubias, Isamu Noguchi, Andy Warhol and contemporary artists Kara Walker and Jeffrey Gibson.

The Baker Museum presents this exhibition in conjunction with a season-long multidisciplinary celebration of George Gershwin by Artis—Naples on the 100th anniversary of Rhapsody in Blue, the composer’s genre-blending masterwork that effortlessly combined the sounds of classical music and jazz. An original Rhapsody in Blue manuscript, loaned from the Library of Congress, will be included in the exhibition.

“George Gershwin excelled in a multitude of fields, and yet maybe his most defining characteristic is that of collaborator,” said Artis—Naples CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen. “He partnered with others to blend musical genres, broadened the perspective and possibilities of classical music and experimented with the visual arts as a painter, collector and wildly cultured eye. George Gershwin embodies our organization’s multidisciplinary mission, and through this centennial celebration of Rhapsody in Blue, we hope to inspire the public through the visual arts, orchestral concerts, chamber music, popular presentations, dance offerings and lectures.”

“Few composers have so indisputably captured and defined the spirit of their own era and culture more successfully and enduringly than George Gershwin,” said Artis—Naples Artistic and Music Director Designate Alexander Shelley. “This exploration of Gershwin as an art collector, artist and composer is precisely the sort of multidisciplinary artistic celebration that inspires us all and opens doors to new knowledge, experience and fulfillment.”

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