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January 2006 Visual Arts Calendar

January 1, 2006 | by Judy Moore

Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. The museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and noon to

5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Monday. Admission to the museum is free; unless noted, admission to all programs is also free.

For information regarding Block Museum exhibitions, programs or location, phone (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Museum Web site at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.

The Block Museum will be closed to the public from Dec. 12 through Jan. 2, 2006, for winter break. The museum will reopen with the following Winter 2006 exhibitions:


  “The Anatomy of Gender: Arts of the Body in Early Modern Europe,” Jan. 3 to March 12. Alsdorf Gallery. This Northwestern faculty-curated project presents a historical overview of anatomical illustrations from the 16th through 18th centuries, focusing on how the human body’s gender and sexual characteristics were represented in early modern scientific and medical texts.

Male and female anatomical differences seem to be self-evident, neutral truths of biology. And yet, throughout Western history, male and female bodies have been continuously subjected to diverse social, religious and cultural characterizations that are anything but neutral. Bringing together images in diverse media -- prints and printed books, small sculptures in ivory and wax -- this exhibition will explore the complex attitudes toward visualizing sexual differences in early Modern elite and popular culture.

“The Anatomy of Gender” is curated by Lyle Massey, assistant professor of art history, Northwestern University, and organized by the Block Museum with loans from the Alabama Museum of Health Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University, Evanston; Galter Health Sciences Library, Special Collections, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; Science Museum, London; University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

  “Comic Art: The Paris Salon in Caricature,” Main Gallery, Jan. 20 to March 12. In 19th century Paris, weekly illustrated journals published scores of caricatures of both Parisian everyday life and special events. The exaggerated language of caricature and its satirical bite were integral to the modernity of the visual culture of the big city and the definition of its characteristic social types. The art world was a frequent target of these humorous publications, especially the annual Salon --  the huge juried art exhibition sponsored by the French government. Salon reviews in pictorial form poked fun at the yearly exhibition, from its dizzying and massive display of paintings and sculptures, to the self-importance of viewers and the prevailing mediocrity of the works. The “Comic Art: The Paris Salon in Caricature” exhibition, organized by The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, examines the wit and scathing commentary of these graphic satires during their heyday.

To complement “Comic Art,” Northwestern University Art History Professor Hollis Clayson and 12 Northwestern University graduate and undergraduate students have organized two other exhibitions exploring modern European caricature -- “Charles Philipon’s La Caricature (1830-1835) and the Street” and “Political Currents Across the Channel: James Gillray’s Caricatures of France.”

 “Charles Philipon’s La Caricature (1830-1835) and the Street,” Jan. 20 to March 12, Main Gallery. Charles Philipon’s scathing and scandalous journal La Caricature first appeared in 1830 and ran until 1835, when government censorship presented too many obstacles to continue publication. This exhibition, drawn from the holdings of Northwestern’s Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, presents a selection of caricatures from Philipon’s publication examining Parisian street and political life. The complete accessibility of the street to all of the city’s inhabitants provided the meeting ground for rich and poor, republican and royalist, aristocrat and bourgeois. Artists and intellectuals recognized the increasing importance of the Parisian street to the functioning and character of the city and began to view it as a personality in its own right. Caricaturists seized upon the satiric potential of the street as an arena for public interaction, entertainment and political commentary.

  “Political Currents Across the Channel: James Gillray’s Caricatures of France,” Jan. 20 to March 12, Print, Drawing and Photography Study Center. British artist James Gillray (1756-1815) was one of the most popular and prolific satirists of his time. During his career, Gillray produced more than 800 single-sheet caricatures addressing the political figures and social foibles of his time. The outrageous humor and brilliant color of his prints make them as trenchant and powerful today as when they were first shown 200 years ago. Also featuring works from Northwestern’s Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, “Political Currents Across the Channel” examines Gillray’s take on French politics, Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and difficult Anglo-French relationships in the wake of the 1789 French Revolution.

  “Jeanne Dunning: Making Boys and Girls,” Jan. 20 to March 12, Howard C. Katz and Ellen Philips Katz Gallery. This winter, the Block Museum will premiere the latest work by internationally celebrated artist and Northwestern University Art Theory and Practice Professor Jeanne Dunning. This video installation examines young children’s conceptions of gender differences. Produced in response to a psychological study Dunning read in a scientific journal, the exhibition features video of boys and girls aged 3 to 5 assembling “puzzle dolls” with detachable body parts and photographs of the dolls the children created.


 “Theo Leffmann: Weaving a Life into Art,” Theo Leffmann Gallery, ongoing exhibition through March 12. Theo Leffmann is recognized as a rich contributor to the American fiber art movement in the late 20th century. For more than 30 years, she liberated textiles from practical and decorative applications by using them as a means of personal expression. The Theo Leffmann Gallery highlights selections from the more than 75 fiber constructions by Leffmann in the Block Museum’s permanent collection through the generous gift of Paul Leffmann.


 “The Anatomy of Gender” Symposium, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, Block Museum. Art historians, science historians and cultural theorists will gather for the daylong symposium organized by Lyle Massey, assistant professor of art history, Northwestern University Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, to discuss the impact of anatomical images across disciplines and other issues raised by the exhibition “The Anatomy of Gender: Arts of the Body in Early Modern Europe,” open to the public from Jan. 3 to March 12 in the Block Museum’s Alsdorf Gallery. Professor Massey is expected to be joined by Daniel H. Garrison, professor of classics, Northwestern University, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; Monica H. Green, history professor, Arizona State University, Tempe; Rebecca Messbarger, professor of Italian language and literature, Washington University, St. Louis; and Katharine Park, professor of history of science and women’s studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. The symposium is organized under the auspices of the Northwestern University department of art history and the Myers Foundations.


 Weekend Docent-Led Tours, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from Jan. 21 through March 12. Block Museum docents will lead free tours of the galleries that begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are not necessary. Docent-Led Group Tours, by appointment. The Block Museum offers free docent-led tours to groups of eight or more. The 45-minute to hour-long tours are available each day the museum is open. Scheduled tour requests should be made at least four weeks in advance by calling (847) 491-4852 or by completing the Group Visit Registration Form at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/visit/guided-tours.html.


The Sculpture Garden of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art constitutes one of the most significant groupings of modern sculpture in the region. In 1987, Leigh Block, one of the museum’s inaugural donors and a preeminent collector of modern art, bequested a large group of outdoor bronze sculptures to the museum. These pieces formed the core of the collection, which now features monumental sculptures by some of the 20th century’s most renowned European and American sculptors. They include Barbara Hepworth, Jacques Lipchitz, Joan Miró and Henry Moore. In 1989, the Block Museum opened its Sculpture Garden with nine of the monumental bronzes donated by Block. The Sculpture Garden was designed by Chicago architect John Vinci and has grown to 22 pieces through donations and acquisitions. It is open year-round. Sculpture Garden tours are available by appointment by calling (847) 491-4852.


Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston campus.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The Dittmar Memorial Gallery places emphasis on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows. For information, call (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or go to the Norris Web site at www.dittmar.northwestern.edu.

The Dittmar Gallery will be closed from Dec. 5 through Jan. 2, 2006, for winter break. It will reopen for the Tomiyama Taeko “Remembrance and Reconciliation” exhibition (Jan. 3 to Feb. 12).


 Tomiyama Taeko, “Remembrance and Reconciliation,” Jan. 3 to Feb. 12, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Artist Tomiyama Taeko’s work engages themes of war and imperialism, beginning with her 85 years of life experience, first as a girl in Japanese-controlled Manchuria, and then in wartime and postwar Japan. She asks viewers to remember the suffering of those whose lives were destroyed and whose stories were “silenced by history,” particularly wartime forced laborers. Drawing on multiple histories and artistic traditions, mostly Asian but also Scytho-Siberian, her work imaginatively travels the world. A noted painter and printmaker, Taeko also collaborated with musician and composer Takahashi Yuji to create multi-media slide presentations of her work. The Dittmar Memorial Gallery’s winter 2006 exhibition presents some of her most recent pieces, reconstructed around the theme of “Remembrance and Reconciliation.” Two of these collaborative projects are included: “Voices of the Sea,” which focuses on gender and forced sexual labor, and “Harbin: Requiem for the Twentieth Century,” a meditation on the attitudes that protect perpetrators from recognizing their own cruelty.

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