The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Two New Exhibitions Open at Seattle Art Museum

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.- This spring the Seattle Art Museum presents two new exhibitions, Renaissance Art in Focus: Neri di Bicci and Devotional Painting in Italy, on view until January 2, 2005, and Only Skin Deep, on view until June 13, 2004. The first exhibition will feature an altarpiece by the Florentine Renaissance artist Neri di Bicci, Virgin and Child with Six Saints (1456), from Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, as well as approximately thirteen early Renaissance paintings from SAM’s permanent collection and other lenders. The exhibition, which will be on view on the museum’s Fourth Floor, will be the first public presentation of the altarpiece following its conservation and restoration at the Seattle Art Museum by SAM’s Chief Paintings Conservator, Nicholas Dorman. For roughly three hundred years, from about 1200 to 1500, most European paintings were devotional objects, commissioned to occupy sacred spaces in Christian churches and private chapels. Born in 1419, Neri di Bicci came from a family of Florentine artists. His grandfather, Lorenzo di Bicci, started the family painting workshop and passed the trade to his son, Bicci di Lorenzo. The dynasty’s most prosperous period was under the direction of Neri, whose paintings were sought by members of every level of society, from shopkeepers to nobility. While not an innovator, Neri was one of the most successful Florentine painters of the period because of his ability to create pleasing, conservative religious images that appealed to a wide audience. He also wrote the Ricordanze, one of the most important literary sources on artistic practice during the Renaissance. The exhibition will compare Neri’s techniques and materials with smaller devotional images from SAM’s Kress Collection. The range of paintings will provide insight into the inter-relationship between style, technique, and the changing format of the Italian altarpiece, while giving an account of workshop practice. Renaissance Art in Focus will also show the technical methods that conservators and curators use to determine the history of each painting, including X-radiographs and high magnification. These techniques reveal information about how the artist painted and how the work of art has changed with the passage of time.

The second exhibition explores how photography has shaped the American understanding of national identity and race. Only Skin Deep draws on public collections, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, and includes more than three hundred historical and contemporary photographs. Divided into five distinct sections, each analyzing how photographs fuel myths and create false stereotypes, the exhibit highlights the diversity of American culture through portraits, social documentary, science, and landscape photography from the nineteenth century to the present.

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