Kay Sage’s Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool is a key acquisition of the Mint’s ongoing Collections Initiative
The Mint Museum was the high bidder at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale Thursday for American Surrealist Kay Sage’s 1947 oil on canvas Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool.
The purchase was the third made possible by a Charlotte philanthropist who made a significant cash gift in 2013 as part of the museum’s ongoing Collections Initiative ; the funds were devoted specifically to the acquisition of 20th century painting. Earlier that year, the same philanthropist’s foundation provided funds for the Mint to acquire the painting Trumpet Flowers by the American artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973). The painting is on view at Mint Museum Uptown. This year the museum purchased Alson Skinner Clark’s important canvas, In the Lock, Miraflores, one of the stars of its recent exhibition focusing on the centennial of the Panama Canal . In the Lock, Miraflores is currently on loan to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for an exhibition celebrating the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and will be back on view at the Mint in spring 2016.
Sage’s powerful work was last on view at the Mint for its groundbreaking 2012 exhibition Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy , co-curated by the Mint’s Senior Curator of American, Modern, and Contemporary Art Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman, who is one of the leading experts in the world on Sage’s art. That exhibition was the first major museum exhibition devoted to Sage since the 1970s.
The vast majority of Sage’s work was donated to museums upon her death; therefore, only the handful that sold during her lifetime now appear on the market. No others in private hands from this critical period of Sage’s career feature the same combination of scale, quality, and personal resonance found in Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool. “This is very likely the best painting by Sage that will ever appear on the market, particularly at this scale,” said Stuhlman.
Along with Dorothea Tanning, Joseph Cornell, and photographer Man Ray, Sage (1898-1963) was one of the leading American Surrealists, and perhaps the American painter most closely allied with the original group of French Surrealists given her marriage to Frenchman Yves Tanguy. Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool is a prime example of Sage’s signature style, which incorporates her interest in haunting, desolate landscapes, beautifully-rendered yet enigmatic forms, and sophisticated variations in tone and hue. It is also an early work in which she is has begun to explore ways to incorporate her unique “scaffolding” – a compositional element that scholars have argued set her work apart from that of her peers. The Mint’s Stuhlman was the first scholar to decode the work’s title, which he believes refers to the traditional anniversary gifts for a couple’s sixth and seventh anniversaries – 1947 was the seventh anniversary of the couple’s wedding and the sixth of their move from New York to Woodbury, Connecticut.
Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool is the second major American Surrealist painting to enter the museum’s collection, following the gift of Gordon Onslow Ford’s The Love Knot in 2013, which represents a very different take on Surrealism and has a very different aesthetic. “It is well in line with the museum’s desire to add significant works of art from the modern era to its collection, as well as its efforts to bolster its holdings of work by women artists,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint.
Staff reporter Kelly Crow of The Wall Street Journal noted the significance of the Mint’s purchase minutes after it occurred, tweeting out : “Kay Sage, the long-overlooked surrealist because she’s a she, gets a nice boost when her ‘Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool’ sells for $1 million, 10 times high estimate.”
Significant acquisitions to continue
“Not only will this gift enhance the experience of visiting the Mint for both Charlotte residents and our global visitors, but it will elevate the Mint’s role in cultural and economic development for the region,” said Jameson.
The prior acquisition, Trumpet Flowers, an oil on canvas created in 1919, is a rare example of Synchromism, a movement developed by Macdonald-Wright and his colleague Morgan Russell in Paris in 1913 that attempted to synthesize art and music through the use of color. It was acquired by the museum at Sotheby’s 2013 spring auction of American Art. The canvas by Clark had been on long-term loan to the museum from a private collector since the opening of Mint Museum Uptown in 2010. It is the first example of Clark’s paintings of the Canal to enter a museum collection.
In 2013, the museum announced the launch of its three-year Collections Initiative with the help of Bank of America, which donated Untitled (Seafirst) 1979 (38 x 19 feet) by California artist Sam Francis to the museum.
Other major gifts of works of art credited to the Initiative include the large abstract canvas Scotland (1960) by American artist Grace Hartigan, currently on view in the same gallery as Trumpet Flowers; and the video installation Orbit 12 by Jennifer Steinkamp, on view in the Level 4 Media Gallery, both given by the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Other announced gifts include Hoss Haley’s White Ripple, funded by the Windgate Foundation, and Jens Praet’s Shredded Side Table, donated by the artist.
Kay Sage (1898-1963)
Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool
signed and dated ‘Kay Sage ’47’ (lower right); signed and dated again, titled and inscribed ‘SAGE 1947 RING OF IRON RING OF WOOL WOODBURY CONN.’ (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
54 x 37 7/8 in. (137 x 96.2 cm.)
Painted in 1947
CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2015
Museum announces upcoming slate, including ‘Fairytales, Fantasy, & Fear’ and ‘Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection’
More will be added to this list in coming months, so keep checking back at mintmuseum.org for updates!
Surrealism and Beyond
Mint Museum UPTOWN
11 February – 13 May 2012
This project brings together three groundbreaking exhibitions and comprises the largest and most significant examination Surrealism and Surrealist-inspired art ever presented in the Southeast.
Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy explores the exchange of ideas that informed the work of the important Surrealist artists Kay Sage (American, 1898-1963) and Yves Tanguy (French/American, 1900-1955) during their 15-year relationship. It is the first exhibition to examine Sage and Tanguy’s work from this perspective, the first significant exhibition of Tanguy’s art organized by an American museum since 1955, and the first major gathering of Sage’s paintings since 1977. Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy is made possible through support from The Mint Museum Auxiliary and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. Exhibition organized by The Mint Museum and Katonah Museum of Art.
Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s focuses on the remarkable paintings and drawings created by the American artist Charles Seliger (1926-2009) during the first decade of his career. It is made possible through support from The Mint Museum Auxiliary and awards from the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Dedalus Foundation, Inc. Exhibition organized by The Mint Museum.
Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary is the first retrospective of the British-American Surrealist painter’s work organized by an American museum in more than 30 years. Featuring approximately 30 paintings by the artist, it is drawn entirely from his family’s collection. It is made possible through support from The Mint Museum Auxiliary and organized by The Mint Museum. For a complete news release about these exhibitions, visit mintmuseum.org and click on “News/Press Releases.”
Fairytales, Fantasy, & Fear
Mint Museum UPTOWN 3 March – 8 July 2012
Fairytales, Fantasy, & Fear brings together the work of several internationally acclaimed artists, including Mattia Biagi, Mark Newport, Kako Ueda, Tom Price, and Kate Malone. Known for his work in tar, Italian artist Biagi reinterprets icons of lost innocence, such as Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella’s carriage. Newport, an American fiber artist, creates hand-knit acrylic re-creations of heroes’ costumes, which combine their heroic, protective, and ultra-masculine yet vulnerable personas. Ueda, a Japanese paper artist, uses unsettling imagery, such as insects and skeletons, in her detailed cutouts to represent the fine line between beauty and decay. Price, a British furniture designer, is known for his use of polypropylene tubing to create spiky shapes that evoke forms from the natural world. And Malone, a British ceramic artist, is known for her sensual Neo-Baroque forms and mastery of crystalline glazes.
This thematic exhibition, generously supported by the Mint Museum Auxiliary, also includes selections from the Mint’s permanent collection and loans from private collections, and utilizes flat-screen televisions for a one-of-a-kind experience. For a complete news release about this exhibition, visit mintmuseum.org and click on “News/Press Releases.”
Sophisticated Surfaces: The Pottery of Herb Cohen
Mint Museum RANDOLPH
7 April 2012 – 6 January 2013
Organized as part of the Mint’s celebration of its 75th anniversary, this exhibition focuses on the ceramic creations of Herb Cohen, a master potter and seminal figure in the museum’s own history. Sophisticated Surfaces: The Pottery of Herb Cohen brings together approximately 60 works, including selections from the Mint’s permanent collection and loans from numerous private collections. Many of Cohen’s works feature intricate, abstract patterns carved into the clay surface, along with innovative experimentations in glazing, which harmoniously blend purity of form with sophisticated surface decoration. Following the evolution of his seven-decade-long career as an award-winning potter, this exhibition demonstrates in a variety of forms that range from the functional to the sculptural the inimitable skill and style for which Cohen has become known.
Born in Manhattan, Cohen first learned to throw on the potter’s wheel at the remarkably young age of 6, a craft he has continued to practice throughout his life. After earning his MFA from the prestigious New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Cohen worked as a designer for Hyalyn Porcelain Company in Hickory, N.C. He eventually settled in Charlotte in the late 1950s, where he joined the staff of The Mint Museum and served as its acting director from 1968 to 1969. In the 1970s he moved to Blowing Rock, N.C. to establish his own studio, but returned to Charlotte in 2010, where he remains active in the local arts community.
The American Art Tile, 1880-1940
Mint Museum RANDOLPH
7 April 2012 – 6 January 2013
The popularity of art tiles for embellishing American architectural settings dates to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. For the remainder of the nineteenth century, many middle-class and wealthy consumers incorporated the latest fashions of art tiles in their homes. Mass-produced tiles with refined details often featured famous portraits or vignettes. By the turn of the century, trends shifted to favor the handmade aesthetic of the Arts & Crafts Movement. American art tile companies enjoyed success for about 50 years, until the Great Depression and World War II forced many out of business. The Mint Museum will present approximately 40 tiles from its permanent collection in the American Decorative Arts Gallery, including the permanently installed fireplace surround, Arkansas Traveler, modeled and designed circa 1916 by Henry Chapman Mercer of Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
RANDOLPH Opens 31 May 2012
From its inception as the first art museum in North Carolina in 1936, The Mint Museum has been an innovator and leader, a theme illustrated in the inaugural installation of the Heritage Gallery at Mint Museum Randolph. It will feature works of art, archival documents, and photographs documenting the growth and evolution of the museum, from its beginnings as the original branch of the U.S. Mint to its founding as an art museum to the present and beyond.
Mint Museum UPTOWN
28 April-19 August 2012
Matthew Weinstein, a visual artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, N.Y., has achieved notoriety in the art world as the first artist to focus exclusively on 3D animation. Beginning with a self-written dialogue or lyrics, Weinstein uses musical scores and written text to develop characters which he then renders by means of the animation program MAYA. Weinstein then casts actors to vocalize the dialogue, and musicians to create an auditory backdrop for the already visually-developed environments. Using precision airbrush techniques and single-hair paintbrushes, Weinstein also creates paintings, essentially abstractions of his animated worlds. These paintings accompany the digital installations and enable the artist to explore the often-tenuous boundary between the real and the virtual in contemporary culture.
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra commissioned Weinstein to create a digital accompaniment to debut with their performance of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero on May 4. The Mint Museum has organized a spotlight exhibition of Weinstein’s art, including four paintings and two videos. Weinstein’s Chariots of the Gods features a mechanized female koi, voiced by Tony-award winning actress Natasha Richardson, who dangles from a golden chain in an empty restaurant. While she seems to carelessly meander through her environment with a smiling disposition, she offers discourse on such weighty subjects as the future, devolution, technology, aliens, and the impossibility of progress. A second video, Cruising 1980, is an homage to writer-director William Friedkin’s iconic film “Cruising” (1980). This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum.
Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection
Mint Museum UPTOWN
30 June – 23 September 2012
During her career in public service, Madeleine Albright famously used her jewelry to communicate diplomatic messages. Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection reveals an intriguing story of American history and foreign policy as told through Secretary Albright’s jeweled pins. The exhibition will be on display during the Democratic National Convention, which will be in Charlotte September 3-6, 2012.
Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the exhibition features more than 200 pieces of jewelry. The collection that Secretary Albright cultivated is distinctive and democratic — sometimes demure and understated, sometimes outlandish and outspoken — and spans more than a century of jewelry design and fascinating pieces from across the globe. The works on view are chosen for their symbolic value, and while some are fine antiques, many are costume jewelry. Together the pieces in this expressive collection explore the power of jewelry to communicate through a style and language of its own.
Through this traveling exhibition and the accompanying book “Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box” (2009), Secretary Albright has given the world an opportunity to explore American history and foreign policy through the lens of jewelry. For a complete news release about this exhibition, visit mintmuseum.org and click on “News/Press Releases.”
Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial
Mint Museum UPTOWN
30 June – 30 September 2012
Thornton Dial is a keen observer of the human spectacle and its narratives of corruption and moral strength, folly and triumph. As an artist, he has spent the last two decades exploring the truth of American history and culture in all its complexities and contradictions. This exhibition presents a major survey of Dial’s work, an epic gathering of over fifty large-scale paintings, sculptures and wall assemblages that address the most compelling issues of our time. Born and raised in the rural South, Dial spent his childhood toiling in the farm fields of western Alabama, followed by decades spent as a laborer in the region’s factories and heavy industry. A working-class man whose art was weaned in the unheralded expressive practices of the black vernacular South, Dial speaks in a voice long overlooked in the canons of modern art and culture.
Since his discovery in the late 1980s, critics have likened Dial’s complex and tumultuous creations to the renowned works of such artists as Jackson Pollock and Anselm Kiefer. To create his art, Dial employs a vast universe of symbolically charged materials — from plastic grave flowers, child’s toys, bed springs and carpet scraps to cow skulls and goat carcasses. Salvaged from garbage cans and trash heaps, these items reappear in dense accumulations amidst the artist’s fields of dripped paint and expressionistic brushworks. Over the years, Dial has tackled a wide range of social and political subjects in his art, from gripping commentaries on the homeless, the abuse of the environment, and the failings of global capitalism to haunting meditations on the War in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the tragedy of 9/11.
Concerned with representing those otherwise rendered invisible within the contours of history, he has also created many works on the plight of women, labor, the rural poor, and the impoverished underclass. Still other paintings and sculptures examine the long history of racial oppression in America. Recounting the atrocities of slavery and Southern sharecropping, the aspirations of the Great Migration, the flight for Civil Rights, and other episodes in black memory, these pieces form a powerful anthology on the human struggle for freedom and equality. Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design
Mint Museum UPTOWN
1 September 2012 – 27 January 2013
This exhibition will examine woodworking in contemporary art across a broad spectrum of practices and concepts. It will engage aspects of art, craft, and design that have been characterized as “performative” and critique the traditional art/craft/design divide. There will be approximately 80 works in the exhibition including vessels, furniture, sculptures, paintings, installations, and works by an international roster of artists, crafts persons, and designers such as Alexandre Arrechea, Martin Baas, Sandford Biggers, David Ellsworth, Hugo França, Maria Elena Gonzalez, Robyn Horn, Donald Judd, Mel Kendrick, Silas Kopf, Sherrie Levine, Mark Lindquist, George Nakashima, Sarah Oppenheimer, Martin Puryear, Jean Shin, Bob Stocksdale, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Woods. Objects from the Mint’s wood art collection will be included.
This timely exhibition addresses a heavily debated topic in the field: As the boundaries between art, craft, and design increasingly overlap, should these categories be redefined, and if so, how? Against the Grain uses the versatile medium of wood to address this issue, highlighting several artists represented in The Mint Museum’s collection, such as Mark Lindquist and Robyn Horn, as well as several that have been identified as artists to collect in the future, including Hugo França and Matthias Pliessnig.
Against the Grain will debut at The Mint Museum during the Democratic National Convention, followed by a presentation at Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York (March-May 2013). The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Arts and Design.
The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art
Mint Museum UPTOWN
20 October 2012 – 20 January 2013
This is the first major exhibition to examine collectively the paintings of the American artists Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889) and his two sons, John Ferguson Weir (1841-1926) and Julian Alden Weir (1851-1919). It traces the trajectory of American art across the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, exploring the wide range of styles in which Robert and his sons worked, as well as the way in which their transatlantic encounters helped to shape their art.
Robert Weir was one of the first American artists to study in Italy, working there from 1824-27. Upon his return to America, he became an associate at the recently-founded National Academy in New York in 1829 and, a few years later, an instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was renowned for his talent as a portraitist and a history painter.
Robert’s first son John trained with his father as well as in Europe. He then taught at Yale University for forty-four years, establishing the first academic art program at a university in this country. Early in his career, he painted history and genre scenes, but was also an adept society portraitist.
John’s younger brother, Julian, was educated at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris from 1873-77. Although he initially expressed disdain for Impressionism and worked in an academic style, he later embraced the new movement and became one of the country’s leading Impressionist artists.
This exhibition was organized by the Brigham Young University Museum of Art and supported in part by the Henry Luce Foundation and by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. It will bring together between 60 and 70 paintings drawn from public and private collections, and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. It opened at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art and will travel to the New Britain Museum of American Art before making its final stop in Charlotte.
The Mint Museum will once again break new ground by bringing together three exhibitions comprising the largest and most significant examination of Surrealism and Surrealist-inspired art ever presented in the Southeast.
– The Mint Museum will once again break new ground by bringing together three exhibitions comprising the largest and most significant examination of Surrealism and Surrealist-inspired art ever presented in the Southeast. Surrealism and Beyond opens to the public at Mint Museum Uptown on February 11 and runs through May 13.
Organized by The Mint Museum and overseen by Jonathan Stuhlman, the Mint’s curator of American art, the project consists of three fascinating shows examining the work of four artists: Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy; Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s; and Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary.
“I am certain that the public will enjoy this rare opportunity to see more than 100 works of art by these four important painters. There is a remarkable synergy between these exhibitions, each of which reveals a different aspect of Surrealism and its impact on 20th century art,” said Stuhlman.
The project illustrates the Mint’s commitment to being a leader in scholarship and education on all forms of art and design. “Surrealism and Beyond is an undertaking many years in the making for the Mint and for its curator, Jonathan Stuhlman,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of The Mint Museum. “It is an exciting opportunity to introduce our audience to these important Surrealist artists and their works, some of which have never been exhibited before.”
Details on each exhibition:
Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy
Double Solitaire explores the exchange of ideas that informed the work of the important Surrealist artists Kay Sage (American, 1898-1963) and Yves Tanguy (French/American, 1900-1955) during their 15-year relationship. It is the first exhibition to examine Sage and Tanguy’s work from this perspective, the first significant exhibition of Tanguy’s art organized by an American museum since 1955, and the first major gathering of Sage’s paintings since 1977.
By intermingling Sage and Tanguy’s paintings, this exhibition of approximately 50 works of art tells the fascinating story of the couple’s complex personal and artistic relationship and, more importantly, elucidates the commonalities and ties between each artists’ work, which historically has been kept separate. Visitors will see firsthand the impact each artist had upon the other as they explored and developed their own unique visual languages. While many of the paintings in the exhibition are drawn from prominent public collections, a number of privately-held works will also be included—some of which have never before been exhibited, and some of which the artists dedicated to each other.
Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy is organized by The Mint Museum and Katonah Museum of Art, and has also been shown at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA (where it is running through January 22 before traveling to the Mint). It is made possible through support from the Mint Museum Auxiliary and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s
This captivating exhibition focuses on the remarkable paintings and drawings created by the American artist Charles Seliger during the first decade of his career. Born in 1926, Seliger quickly acquired a strong working knowledge of early 20th century modernism. But it was the fantastic imagery, inventive processes, and creative freedom of Surrealism that truly captured his attention and inspired him to develop his own mature aesthetic between 1942 and 1950. Although his work was rooted in the same basic principles and ideas as that of the Abstract Expressionists, many of whom he exhibited alongside in the 1940s, Seliger found a distinctly personal voice and artistic vocabulary. Because of this, he was given his first solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s “Art of this Century” gallery in 1945, when he was just 19. By the end of the decade, Seliger had narrowed his focus and further honed his style, resulting in an approach that defined his work until his death in 2009.
Seeing the World Within is the first exhibition to focus on the groundbreaking paintings Seliger created during the first decade of his career, and the first museum-organized exhibition of Seliger’s work in 30 years. It brings together approximately 35 of his best works from the 1940s, drawn from public and private collections as well as his estate.
Following its debut at the Mint, Seeing the World Within will travel to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (June 9-September 16, 2012), and the Munson-Williams Proctor Art Institute, Utica, New York (October 20-January 20, 2013). (Please note that this part of Surrealism and Beyond closes at the Mint two weeks prior to the other exhibitions, on April 29, to facilitate its travel to Italy). This exhibition is made possible through support from the Mint Museum Auxiliary and awards from the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Dedalus Foundation, Inc., and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary
This is the first retrospective of the British-American Surrealist painter’s work organized by an American museum in more than 30 years. Featuring approximately 30 paintings by the artist, it is drawn entirely from his family’s collection. Many of the objects in the exhibition were either created specifically for Onslow Ford’s sister, Elisabeth, or were given to her for such special occasions as her birthdays. Because of the closeness and longevity of their relationship, the exhibition will offer visitors a look at the full range of Onslow Ford’s career – from early, more traditional canvases from the 1920s and 1930s, to his first experiments with Surrealism in the late 1930s and 1940s, to his later work from the 1950s forward, which took a more cosmic, symbolic approach to abstraction.
It is a particularly apt companion for the Sage and Tanguy and Seliger exhibitions, as it reveals another dimension of Surrealism and its impact, and features an artist who knew and worked alongside Sage and Tanguy in the 1930s and 1940s and who wrote a book on Tanguy’s artistic process in 1980. Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary is accompanied by a selection of ephemera and works by family-member artists who were inspirational to Onslow Ford early in his career.
This exhibition is exclusive to The Mint Museum and is made possible through support from the Mint Museum Auxiliary.