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New Mexico Museum of Art Presents Cloudscapes: Photographs from the Collection

Storm at La Bajada by Laura Gilpin, 1946

Storm at La Bajada by Laura Gilpin, 1946

Cloudscapes: Photographs from the Collection
New Mexico Museum of Art
Opening February 4, 2011

A new exhibition of photographic luminaries at the New Mexico Museum of Art invites visitors to lose themselves in a variety of cloud formations, from fluffy to enticing to intriguing to menacing. Cloudscapes: Photographs from the Collection, opening Feb. 4, features work by some of the masters of the medium, including Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, and Edward Weston. Also featured are more recent images by Paul Caponigro, William Clift, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, and Jim Stone.

While the landscape of New Mexico holds great attraction for photographers, its skies and their abundance of dramatic cloud formations also draw artists’ eyes. With an emphasis on New Mexico views, the show brings forward more than 25 images of this popular subject while also examining them in the context of Stieglitz’s influential cloud series, Equivalents. Taken during summer visits to his family retreat in Lake George, N.Y., these studies of clouds allowed the artist to explore a more subjective aspect of photography. Photographer Jim Stone, based in Albuquerque, makes humorous reference to the series in his 1976 piece, subtitled Equivalent Alaska Cloud.

Artists have portrayed clouds in their work not only for their interesting and ever-changing shapes, but also as symbols, whether to convey the power and unpredictability of nature or to express human emotions such as loneliness, unrest, freedom, or happiness. An unusual trio of images by Laura Gilpin reflects the time she spent living on a Navajo reservation by depicting the “He” rain, the “She” rain, and a rainbow in between. Eliot Porter used color film to beautiful effect in capturing the sunsets near his studio in Tesuque. The contemporary artistic pair Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison refers to environmental issues in their picture of clouds, Patching the Sky.

“Cloudscapes gives us a wonderful opportunity to remind visitors of the many stellar photographs in the collection,” said exhibition curator Katherine Ware. “Photographs are very light sensitive and cannot remain on long-term view like paintings and sculpture. We hope our guests will see some famous favorites as well as discovering some new images.”

The museum is pleased to present this group of photographs as part of a museum-wide installation of pieces from its permanent collection.

New Mexico Museum of Art

The New Mexico Museum of Art was founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico. Housed in a spectacular Pueblo Revival building designed by I. H. and William M. Rapp, it was based on their New Mexico building at the Panama-California Exposition (1915). The museum’s architecture inaugurated what has come to be known as “Santa Fe Style.” For nearly 100 years, the Museum has celebrated the diversity of the visual arts and the legacy of New Mexico as a cultural crossroads by collecting and exhibiting work by leading artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide-array of exhibitions with work from the world’s leading artists. The New Mexico Museum of Art brings the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico. The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Storm at La Bajada by Laura Gilpin, 1946

Storm at La Bajada by Laura Gilpin, 1946

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One response to “New Mexico Museum of Art Presents Cloudscapes: Photographs from the Collection”

  1. Nick Gregan says:

    Wow how beautiful these images are. we often think of clouds as a somewhat fluffy ephemeral addition to our everyday skys. However when we see the beauty, the power and the menace of some of these images it makes us realize the sky is a beautiful thing of many dimensions.

    There’s a certain natural beauty in the images much like those at http://www.ambiguousmisdirection.com where the photographer uses the female form in a similar way.

    I hope there’s a book coming out soon.

    Most photographers think of the famous Ansel Adams – Moonrise Hernandez New Mexico when we hear about New Mexico but these are truley awe inspiring images.

    Nick