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Survey of the MFAH's Metal Collection Opens March 2010

Liquid Lines: Exploring the Language of Contemporary Metal
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
March 7 through July 18, 2010

Beginning March 7, 2010, 30 contemporary metal works will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in Liquid Lines: Exploring the Language of Contemporary Metal. Organized by Cindi Strauss, MFAH curator of modern and contemporary decorative arts and design, the exhibition explores the varied ways that contemporary artists have manipulated metal to highlight the fluid properties of the material. Works on view range from furniture and vases to avant-garde jewelry and sculptural installations, all from the museum’s permanent collection.

“The MFAH’s modern and contemporary collections lend themselves beautifully to inter-departmental exhibitions,” said Dr. Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director. “Liquid Lines celebrates the depth and range of vision achieved by artists, craftsmen, and designers working with metal.”

“The strength and value of metal has inspired artists for centuries, and in recent decades, contemporary artists have continued to investigate new ways to work with the material,” said curator Cindi Strauss. “Liquid Lines showcases exciting works, created between 1969 and 2008, that have emerged on the international, modern market. Whether ornamental, sculptural, or functional, all the objects on view demonstrate innovative aesthetic principles.”

To create the objects included in the show, the artists have applied diverse techniques—such as casting, constructing, forging, and hand-raising—to a variety of metals, including bronze, iron, silver, steel, wire, or found objects. The exhibition includes works by Ron Arad, Chunghi Choo, Georg Dobler, Arline Fisch, Gego, Joseph Havel, Bruce Metcalf, Albert Paley, Hiroshi Suzuki, Tone Vigeland, and Jonathan Wahl.

One of the smallest works on view is by a renowned master of contemporary jewelry, Swiss artist Max Fröhlich. His silver Ring (1992) relates to geometric abstraction, a concept that he began exploring during his education at the Zurich art school Kunstgewerbeschule. Placing an emphasis on unadorned form, the ring features a swirled and bent circular structure, remarkable for its pure, geometric shape. Fröhlich’s ring will be shown with other international jewelry from the MFAH’s Helen Williams Drutt Collection as well as with gifts from other donors.

German artist Georg Dobler’s “Atomic Energy” Brooch (1988) is one of many works that emerged from a fifteen-year period in which the artist created jewelry by soldering steel wire together. The artist’s original intent was to create symbol-less structures of intersecting lines, but this later work—which resembles a spun-together ball—reflects how the artist’s concentration evolved towards natural, organic shapes.

Other highlights on view include the electro-formed silver Vase (1985) by Korean-American artist Chunghi Choo; the captivating Narrow Paparadelle Chair (designed 1992, made 1994) by Israeli designer Ron Arad, which resembles unraveling ribbon tumbling to the floor, but functions as a chair with ‘carpet’-footrest; and the sculpture Reticulárea (1975), an interwoven web of wires by Venezuelan sculptor and architect Gego.

Upcoming Exhibitions at the MFAH

  • Sargent and the Sea February 14 – May 23, 2010
  • Houston’s Sargents February 14 – May 9, 2010
  • Prendergast in Italy February 14 – May 9, 2010
  • Ruptures and Continuities: Photography Made After 1960 from the MFAH Collection February 21—May 9, 2010
  • 2010 Core Exhibition March 5—April 16, 2010 (Glassell School of Art)
  • Liquid Lines: Exploring the Language of Contemporary Metal March 7—July 18, 2010
  • Alice Neel: Painted Truths March 21 – June 13, 2010
  • Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam May 16—August 8, 2010
  • Charles M. Russell: The Masterworks in Oil and Bronze June 6 – August 29, 2010
  • Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture, The Photography of Ishimoto Yasuhiro, June 20—September 12, 2010

Group Tours

Custom exhibition tour packages for groups of 10 or more may be requested with three weeks advance reservations. Contact the Group Sales Department, (713)639-7878, for information on group admission discounts and tour topics. Group leaders receive free admission.

MFAH Collections

Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the largest art museum in America south of Chicago, west of Washington, D.C., and east of Los Angeles. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers nearly 60,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. Featured are the finest artistic examples of the major civilizations of Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Italian Renaissance paintings, French Impressionist works, photographs, American and European decorative arts, African and Pre-Columbian gold, American art, and European and American paintings and sculpture from post-1945 are particularly strong holdings. Recent additions to the collections include Rembrandt van Rijn’s Portrait of a Young Woman (1633), the Heiting Collection of Photography, a major suite of Gerhard Richter paintings, an array of important works by Jasper Johns, a rare, second-century Hellenistic bronze Head of Poseidon/Antigonos Doson, major canvases by 19th-century painters Gustave Courbet and J.M.W. Turner, Albert Bierstadt’s Indians Spear Fishing (1862), distinguished work by the leading 20th- and 21st-century Latin American artists, and The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art.

MFAH Hours and Admission

Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:15–7 p.m. The museum is closed on Monday, except for holidays. Admission to this exhibition is included with general admission to the museum. General admission is $7 for adults and $3.50 for children 6-18, students, and senior adults (65+); admission is free for children 5 and under. Admission is free on Thursday, courtesy of Shell Oil Company Foundation. Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday for children 18 and under with a Houston Public Library Power Card or any other library card.

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