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Looking at the Collection: Whimsy in 3-D

July 29, 2007 - October 5, 2008


Ever wonder what makes a sculpture different from a painting or a print? Make it a family affair and come visit the Huntsville Museum of Art's McDonnell Douglas Education Gallery to explore the wonderful world of sculpture! (right: Dale Lewis, Clown Princess, 2000, dyed and natural curly maple)

The Huntsville Museum of Art is putting on view some of the more whimsical sculptures from the Museum's collection to talk about the different aspects of sculpture. Some of these sculptures are meant to hang on the walls, some from the ceiling, while others, you will be able to walk around to see all sides.

Look for family-friendly interactive components to complete your experience. There is also a hands-on activity day or children of all ages to create their own 3-D masterpiece using building blocks, legos and other materials. This exhibition also includes a a Family Gallery Guide with activities for children and adults.

Another whimsical component of the Whimsy in 3-D exhibition is Picture Perfect, an exciting, hands-on paint station for young and old alike. Users will create artwork on a large screen with the ability to print and take home. Everyone is encouraged to "paint" their own masterpiece with its array of bold colors. Provided by the Gala 2007 Fund-a-Need project, the Huntsville Museum of Art is pleased to have this latest interactive feature in the McDonnell Douglas Education Gallery during the Whimsy in 3-D exhibition.

Looking at the Collection: Whimsy in 3D features a wide range of art from the Huntsville Museum of Art's permanent collection in which the majority of artists have chosen to work in three dimensions rather than the usual two. Their art is called sculpture. We usually think of a sculpture as an object that sits on a floor or pedestal, has depth in addition to height and width, and can be seen from more than one side. A good example on view in this gallery is Dale Lewis' cartoon-like chair, Clown Princess. However, other types of sculpture can suspend from the ceiling, like Dorothy Gilliespie's brightly colored work, Royale, or hang on a wall, like Emily Wilson's carved and painted wood piece, Back from Heaven.

While most sculptors create works that possess the 3-dimensional features of traditional sculpture, the sense of depth and volume can be "implied" by other, more conventional means. John Kutzik uses the medium of watercolor to create an abundance of seemingly 3-dimensional shapes in his exuberant work, The Newest Toy. Claes Oldenburg, who is best known for oversized outdoor sculptures that mimic ordinary objects like clothespins or flashlights, produced the lithograph Baked Potato Studies before he eventually created an actual sculpture of a giant potato made of cloth.

In addition to using different approaches to create their sculpture, the artists in this exhibition have also brought a touch of wit or "whimsy" to their works. Take some time to look at each piece and delight in the humor that each artist provides. Perhaps you will be inspired to make your own "whimsical" work of art at the interactive Imagination Station within the gallery.

Looking at the Collection: Whimsy in 3D is organized by the Huntsville Museum of Art.



(above: Cappy Thompson, Riding Fearless Into the Future, 1994, vitreous enamels on blown glass)


Artists featured in the Looking at the Collection: Whimsy in 3-D exhibition:

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg was born in Sweden as the son of a Swedish diplomat. The family moved to Chicago when Claes was eight years old. He graduated from Yale University in 1950 and later studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Oldenburg is best known for his huge sculptures. He frequently sketches everyday subjects, such as an electric outlet or clothespin, and uses the sketches to help create a giant rendition of the object, casting it in metal, plastic, or other materials.
Baked Potato Studies is typical of Oldenburg's drawings and includes a number of small sketches in lithographic crayon on a single sheet of paper. His drawings are often studies for projects that he will never complete. Eventually Oldenburg did create a soft sculpture of a giant potato made of cloth. The potato at the lower left became sculptured as a "monster potato" form, soft, sewn, and stuffed. Others here are variations in which the potato seems to resemble something else. The image at the upper right looks like a sprouting bean; the one below it reminds us of a traditional lady's purse, open and full of white fluffy stuff with a lump of butter.
Dante Marioni
As the son of Paul Marioni, one of the pioneers of the American studio glass movement, Dante Marioni grew up around emerging masters of the medium. He began blowing glass at the early age of nine years old. Marioni then acquired his technical skills over a ten-year period, by studying at two of the nation's top glass schools, Pilchuck School in Washington state, and the Penland School of Design in North Carolina. After his studies, he turned his attention to exploring the classical Mediterranean world of his forefathers. Marioni became obsessed with ancient Greek pottery forms, like the tall two-handled vases called amphoras, and the shallow, footed wine vessels called kylixes. He continues to update these vessels in his work by stretching out their forms, exaggerating details like the handles and spouts and blowing them in strong, contemporary colors. The results are sleek, cool, and elegant forms that speak to the long tradition of fine glassblowing.
Marioni was honored in 1995 when his work was chosen to grace the jacket cover of The White House Collection of American Crafts. He now lives and works in Seattle, where he often teaches at Pilchuck School.
George Febres
A native of Ecuador, George Febres was an important and charismatic figure on the New Orleans art scene. He founded a gallery representing many friends and colleagues, who, along with Febres, played a decisive role in developing a style of art known as Visionary Imagism. This art movement, with its roots in New Orleans, emphasized subject matter that fell outside the mainstream and often relied on patterning, caricature and obsessively precise rendering. The art of Febres and his circle also includes aspects of Surrealism and Pop Art, expressed with a cutting wit that frequently revolves around humorous visual puns. Handsaw is a typical piece by Febres employing this use of the visual joke. What is the joke?
Daniel Troppy
A native of Texas, Daniel Troppy has received national attention exhibiting in cities including Asheville, Birmingham, Houston, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and Washington, DC. His work can be found in the collections of The Children's Museum of Mexico City, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, and the Huntsville Museum of Art, among others.
Troppy has had no training in art, nor did he have a desire to become an artist until 11 years ago, when he claims that he began to see images in the objects that he collected--old furniture parts, beat up tin cans, paint can lids, and an assortment of all shapes and sizes of wood. Those objects that people threw away were the very items that Troppy wanted to save and later use in his sculptures. This piece is certainly representative of his earlier works. Look closely. Can you find a piece of furniture incorporated into this work?


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