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Upcoming Schedule of Exhibitions through Fall 2022

Waiting for Tear Gas
March 12–July 17, 2022 
Lynne and Harold Honickman Galleries (156,157) 

Allan Sekula’s Waiting for Tear Gas [white globe to black] is a monument of politically engaged art created in the wake of the anti-globalization protests that rocked Seattle, Washington, in late 1999. The piece consists of eighty-one 35mm color slides that document Sekula’s participatory observation of the protest, sequenced and projected at nearly life-size scale on a continuous loop. Viewers of the slide show confront a procession of the various people Sekula met in the crowd that day. According to the artist, the resulting work represents “a simple descriptive physiognomy” that illustrates how “the alliance on the streets was indeed stranger, more varied and inspired than could be conveyed by cute alliterative play with ‘teamsters’ and ‘turtles,’” a reference to the highly visible coordination between organized labor and environmentalists at the event. 

The installation takes Sekula’s complex negotiation of politics, portraiture, and most importantly, protest, as its starting point. The act of public dissent has long appealed to artists for a variety of reasons as protests contain moments of great intensity and periodic stillness. Protests highlight coordinated masses as well as exemplary individuals. They appear, in turn, both organized and chaotic. The theme of protest offers up visual possibilities for artists to transform into a compelling picture of public expression. 

Waiting for Tear Gas will be featured in context with approximately 35–50 works that explore representations of protest to not only convey an important piece of politically engaged art, but to also provide an opportunity to reflect on our own cultural moment and the museum’s role as a prominent backdrop to many of the city’s most iconic moments of protest. 

Samuel Ewing, former Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography 

Pictures in Pictures 
March 12–July 17, 2022 
Jaimie & David Field | Marie & Joseph Field Galleries (154,155) 

Pictures in Pictures poses the deceptively straightforward question: why are images within images so captivating? The exhibition does not provide a clear answer, nor does it present a shared rationale for why artists incorporate other pictures within their compositions. Instead, it offers an opportunity for visitors to consider an exciting array of examples of this phenomenon from across the museum’s collection and explore this question for themselves.  

Assembled objects range from Jan Brueghel the Younger’s 1660 Allegory of Sight, a painting that depicts an idealized gallery of other artworks, to LaToya Ruby Frazier’s 2007 photograph of her grandmother’s refrigerator covered in family photos. The exhibition mixes emerging and established artists, and places canonical works alongside lesser-studied pictures by unknown artists. The exhibition’s approximately 60 objects are primarily drawn from the department of prints, drawings, and photographs, but also include paintings, stained glass, hanging scrolls, and furnishings. 
The exhibition embraces an expansive definition of what a “picture in picture” can be, ranging from the expected—canvases, photographs, and drawings—to the surprising or immaterial—illusions, reflections, and shadows. Reflections on glass and trompe l’oeil imagery cast doubt on our very ability to discern the real from the fictive. Self-portraits of artists mid-sketch or the mirror reflection of a photographer behind a camera remind viewers that every image they encounter is a constructed illusion. In other cases, pictures within pictures gather incongruous objects, people, and ideas that otherwise could not occupy the same space, enabling visions and ghosts to manifest in the physical world and ancestral figures and artifacts to comingle with the living. Together, the works in this exhibition show how artists have used “pictures in pictures” to make the imagined real, the absent present, or the lost remembered. 

Amanda N. Bock, Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs 
Laurel Garber, Park Family Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings 
Jun Nakamura, Suzanne Andree Curatorial Fellow 

Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas
April 11–July 31, 2022 
Press Preview: April 7, 2022
Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, and Korman Galleries (221-224) 

This comprehensive fifty-year survey exhibition features the artist’s most significant works from the 1970s to the present. It will closely examine his contribution to the history of abstract art and his mastery of technique by focusing on the various mediums, motifs, and scales that have defined the artist’s practice over time. The exhibition will center on paintings, drawings, prints, and pastels, demonstrating the integral relationships between works in various media, which are rarely exhibited together. Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas premiered in June of 2020 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. 

Scully (American, born in Ireland in 1945) is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and poet. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Harkness Fellowship, as well as a two-time Turner Prize nominee. Scully’s works are in numerous private and public collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. In 2015, Scully participated in the Venice Biennale with his solo exhibition Land Sea at the Palazzo Falier. The upcoming retrospective will be the artist’s first of this scale in the United States since Sean Scully: Twenty Year, 1976–1995, which was presented in 1995 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. The artist divides his time between New York, England, and Germany.

See full press release 

A new publication accompanies the exhibition, authored by Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO, with Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. It is the first to thoroughly examine Sean Scully’s art within a biographical context. Co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press, the catalogue presents an in-depth account of Scully’s work and his most significant bodies of work informed by extensive and recent interviews with the artist. The book begins with a preface by Marla Price, Director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and author of Scully’s multivolume catalogue raisonné, and an essay by the poet and art critic Kelly Grovier on the unique contribution Scully has made to the history of abstraction. Featured contributions include reprints by which historically contextualize Scully’s work by William Feaver, Deborah Solomon, Donald Kuspit, Arthur C. Danto, and Michael Auping. 256 pages. ISBN: 9780876332955. Now available at store.philamuseum.org

Timothy Rub, George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer 
Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art 

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, June 20–October 10, 2021. 
Philadelphia Museum of Art, April 11–July 31, 2022. 
In Philadelphia, Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas is made possible by John J. Hannan, Jennifer Rice and Michael Forman, Robbi and Bruce Toll, Waqas Wajahat, and Constance and Sankey Williams, and with support from the museum’s endowment through the Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, and the Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky Installation and Exhibition Fund.

The accompanying publication has been generously supported by Lisson Gallery, which also provided support for the exhibition.

Credits as of January 12, 2022

Martine Syms: Neural Swamp / The Future Fields Commission
Spring 2022 
Gisela and Dennis Alter Gallery (276) 

This exhibition is the first in the United States to feature the artist's newly commissioned work, Neural Swamp, which has recently been acquired by the museum. For this presentation, Syms is creating an immersive video installation that will build upon the artist’s interest in the proliferation, circulation, and consumption of images, as well as her continued research into machine systems and technologies that deprive, and at times erase, Black bodies, voices, and narratives. Neural Swamp premiered at the Fondazione Sandretto de Rebaudengo in Turin in November 2021, after which it will travel to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Spring of 2022.  

Martine Syms (American, born 1988) is a Los Angeles-based artist who has developed an interdisciplinary approach that bridges the mediums of film, performance, installation, and publishing. Investigative in practice, her works employ multiple technologies to explore and reveal the ways in which identity, history, and power are constructed, performed, packaged, and consumed. This new commission has provided support during a pivotal moment in Syms’s career, allowing her to extend her multi-faceted approach towards new and increasingly experimental techniques while deepening her investigations into the representations of Blackness across generations, geographies, mediums, and traditions. 

Martine Syms is the second recipient of the Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media, which supports the production and acquisition of a new video, film, sound, or performance work every two years. It is a joint initiative between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy. 

See full press release

Fondazione retto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy. On view through January 30, 2022. 

A new publication co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, and Yale University Press will accompany the exhibition. Featuring texts by curators Irene Calderoni and Amanda Sroka, as well as a commissioned essay by Christina Sharpe, this publication will document Syms’s new work, while also offering in-depth critical analysis and a visual essay that reflects the specific approach to images that characterizes the artist’s practice. 50 pages. ISBN: 9780876332979 

Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art  
Irene Calderoni, Curator, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo  

Martine Syms: Neural Swamp has been made possible by the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art and the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions. 

River of Forms: Giuseppe Penone’s Drawings
September 22, 2022 –January 2, 2023
Daniel W. Dietrich II Galleries

Internationally renowned Italian artist and sculptor Giuseppe Penone (Italy, 1947) has built an expansive body of work over five decades including sculpture, performance, works on paper, and photography. This exhibition will celebrate the artist’s extraordinary and recent gift of drawings to the museum, comprising more than 300 drawings and 5 artists books from the late 1960s until today. River of Forms examine the central role that drawing plays in his practice and how it has informed many large sculptural works throughout the years. Also included in the exhibition will be a selection of the artist’s related sculptures.

Nature and its relationship to human experience has offered deep inspiration for the artist throughout his career. One of the youngest members of Arte Povera, the art movement in Italy in the late 1960s, Penone continues to incorporate natural materials in his work, such as wood, stone, and clay. His drawings reflect a range of artistic techniques and processes in pencil, biro, watercolor, coffee, India ink, graphite, charcoal, adhesive tape, and leaves, and other media.

Among the highlights of the exhibition, which will include approximately 200 works, are drawings from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, among them preparatory sketches for installations and sculptures. Works such as Project for the Exhibition at G. Enzo Sperone, 1969, appear as fleeting impressions on paper accompanied by text. Other drawings reflect aspects of related works, such as Project for mirroring lens – to look at the street, 1970. One section of the exhibition includes the monotype Sculpture, 1974, which contains the imprint of human skin on graphite that resembles thin branches or tangled spider webs, spreading over the composition in an irregular pattern. The large-scale Untitled, 1992, consists of six sheets of watercolor with ink that mimics the stream of a river, the growth of a branch, or perhaps calligraphy.

About the Artist’s Gift

See press release  from June 2020 announcement 

The related publication will include an introductory essay by Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, as well as the first translation into English of the text “Pensieri e Linfa” (Sap and Thought ) by Penone. This text corresponds to the long frottage that will be displayed in the corridor alongside the gallery. Dr. Lara Demori, Research Associate, will situate Penone’s work within the Minimalism and Post-minimalism movements, while Jacklyn Chi and Thomas Primeau will focus on the materiality of Penone’s poetic drawings. 

Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, with Research Associate Dr. Lara Demori

On View

Fault Lines: Contemporary Abstraction by Artists from South Asia
Through April 10, 2022 
Gisela and Dennis Alter Gallery (276) 

Spanning the period from the 1960s to the present, this exhibition features four artists whose works uniquely embrace and reconfigure the visual language of Minimalism to address questions of home, memory, and belonging. The artists are Tanya Goel (b. 1985, active in New Delhi), Sheela Gowda (b. 1957, active in Bangalore), Prabhavathi Meppayil (b. 1965, active in Bangalore), and Zarina (b. 1937–2020, born Aligarh; active in New York). 

In the selection, lines vibrate in and out of focus—some thick and overdrawn, some faint and tenuous, and others punctuated by the scribbles of the artist’s notations. Across the mediums of painting, sculpture and works on paper, the line becomes a map and a metaphor for moving through physical, temporal, and psychological landscapes. This exhibition interweaves disparate geographies and shared formal vocabularies to offer new definitions of abstraction while investigating fundamental concerns about our human condition and the fractured worlds we inhabit. This presentation has been organized collaboratively between the museum’s departments of Contemporary Art and South Asian Art. 

See full press release

Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art 

This exhibition has been made possible with support from the museum’s endowment, through the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art. 

Credits as of March 7, 2020. 

Circus: Bouroullec Designs
Through May 30, 2022
Collab Gallery 219

This exhibition features the work of leading contemporary designers and brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec (b. France, 1971, and 1976), who will be recipients of the Collab Design Excellence Award. The title of the exhibition is inspired by their lively design sense and creative spirit: Circus is a visual parade of designs for furniture, lighting, textiles, glass, ceramics, and room partition systems. These qualities illuminate the brothers’ minimal and refined visual language, combined with their thoughtful approach to materials that merges traditional methods with the possibilities of modern engineering.  

Among the highlights will be a special large-scale installation of the “Cloud” system, made by Kvadrat, and a work made from their new “Bloc” ceramic bricks, produced by Mutina. Also included are original models for recent projects that explore striking interconnections between urban settings, architecture, and nature, such as the balletic set of fountains at the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées in Paris, which consists of six 42-feet-high illuminated bronze and crystal structures that slowly revolve as their vertical forms cascade water into the basins below; the dramatic interventions around the new Bourse de Commerce, home to the Pinault Collection in Paris; and Le Belvédère, in the River Vilaine, Rennes. 

Born in Quimper, Brittany, the brothers completed their studies at the École supérieure des Arts décoratifs in Paris and École nationale supérieure des Arts in Cergy and started their joint practice in the late 1990s. Based in Paris, their practice encompasses furniture, lighting, textiles, jewelry, ceramics and glass, drawings and photography, room partition systems and architecture. Their works have been widely disseminated in production with manufacturers including Alessi, Artek, Cassina, Established & Sons, FLOS, Glas Italia, HAY, Iitalla, Kvadrat, Magis, Mattiazzi, Mutina, Samsung, Vitra, and WonderGlass. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, this year’s Student Design Competition will challenge students at local colleges to submit original designs related to key themes in the exhibition.

See full press release  

Jack Hinton, Henry P. McIlhenny Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture 

This exhibition is made possible by The Lisa S. Roberts and David W. Seltzer Endowment Fund in Support of the Collab Design Excellence Award Exhibition. Additional support provided by Collab. In-kind support provided by Mutina and Vitra, Inc. 

Credits as of October 13, 2021.

Expanded Painting from the 1960s and 70s 
Through June 2022 
Edna and Stanley Tuttleman Gallery (274) 

From Sam Gilliam’s suspended, draped canvas, to Lynda Benglis’s torqued and glittered form, these works speak to an upending of barriers—be they artistic, ideological, racial, or rooted in gender stereotypes. By rethinking and systematically probing conventions associated with the painted canvas, these works ultimately speak to the desire for a deeper, more fundamental connection to nature, the body, movement, and light. 

Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art 

This exhibition has been made possible with support from the museum's endowment, through the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, 

Credits as of September 26, 2021.  

Ghosts and Fragments 
Through June 2022 
Gallery 270 

Ghosts and Fragments includes works by Nick Cave, Lonnie Holley, Glenn Ligon, and Susan Rothenberg that conceptually speak to the haunting absences and fractured presences of marginalized bodies. In this installation, disembodied artifacts—fragments of limbs, fractured objects, and haunting words—yield poetic, political, and subjective interpretations of the self, invisibility, and otherness. 

Erica F. Battle, John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art 

This exhibition has been made possible with support from the museum's endowment, through the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art. 

Credits as of March 10, 2021. 

Marisa Merz 
Through June 20, 2022 
Gallery 271 

This installation celebrates the life and legacy of pioneering Italian artist Marisa Merz (1926–2019). Occupying a unique and pivotal position in postwar European art, Merz’s work combines keen attention to materials with a deep personal symbolism. Coming of age in Italy in the turbulence of the 1960s, she is the sole female artist affiliated with Arte Povera—a term coined in 1967 to describe a group of artists whose work emphasized process and the use of unconventional materials to connect art and life. Imbuing the ordinary with redemptive and revelatory qualities, Merz’s sculptures, paintings, and drawings employ malleable materials like copper wire, wax, and unfired clay. As these elements are knotted, woven, and recombined—techniques often linked to craft and female labor—she insistently subverts antiquated stereotypes of the feminine and the maternal through the incorporation of heavy metals and industrial paints. 

For many years Merz refrained from both dating her artwork and presenting it in traditional exhibition settings. This selective participation in the larger art system stemmed from her conception of art as inseparable from and entwined with daily life. Equally inspired by Byzantine religious icons, Renaissance painting, and domestic interactions with her husband, Mario Merz, and daughter, Beatrice, her work reflects an ongoing exploration of the tensions between the private and the public, the spiritual and the profane. 

This gallery features a number of the artist’s recurring visual motifs, such as the female head, the flowing fountain, and musical instruments whose sounds are heard only in the viewer’s mind. With their delicate and textured surfaces, Merz’s works beckon us into a cosmos all her own. 

Carlos Basualdo, Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art 
Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art 

Marisa Merz was organized in collaboration with the Fondazione Merz, Turin. It has been made possible with support from the museum’s endowment, through the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art. 

Credits as of March 10, 2021. 

Authentic: Truth and Perception in Chinese Art
Through July 3, 2022 
Osagie and Losenge Imasogie Gallery (325) 

In the first of a series of installations highlighting selections from the Chinese collection, this presentation demonstrates that our  understandings of authenticity are not universal, and notions of copying are viewed differently within the Chinese cultural sphere. Thematic groupings explore various facets of what is considered ‘authentic’—from copies created in response to particular fashions in the West, to antiquarian-inspired pieces made in imitation of historic works, to prints about the Sino-Japanese war made by both Chinese and Japanese artists that present differing viewpoints on the same conflict. By providing the intention behind the creation of a work of art, and drawing attention to motifs and details, the installation compares our contemporary understandings of authenticity to how they have been viewed in the past. 

The installation is part of China and the World a three-year project exploring universal human themes—including authenticity, connectivity, and diversity. Led by Hiromi Kinoshita, the Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Curator of Chinese Art, each installation is on view for a year, during which there will be K-12 teaching and adult programming designed around every theme. 

Hiromi Kinoshita, Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Curator of Chinese Art 

Authentic: Truth and Perception in Chinese Art is made possible by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Credits as of June 23, 2021. 



Credits as of June 23, 2021. 

Elegy: Lament in the 20th Century 
Through July 24, 2022 
Morgan Galleries and Jane and Leonard Korman Galleries (150–153) 

An elegy is a song or poem expressing sorrow, especially for one who has died. This exhibition explores how artists have created visual elegies, using their work to convey grief and commemorate those who have passed. All the works of art on view are from the museum’s collection, with most created between 1900 and 2000. This chronological distance allows us to step away from our present moment of collective grief and trauma to see how artists of the last century worked to keep people, events, and states of being alive in memory. 

Throughout the exhibition, painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and textiles approach grief and commemoration from various perspectives, including personal loss, historic tragedies, and specific acts of violence and injustice. Several of the works evoke remembrance of individuals who died under tragic circumstances, including His Reward, Emmett Till by Clarence Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr. by John Woodrow Wilson. Other works refer to events in which many died, such as Ben Shahn’s painting Miners’ Wives, inspired by the Centralia No. 5 coal mine disaster of 1947 in Illinois. 

“The Elegiac Gesture” section of the exhibition focuses on work by artists who represent grief with age-old forms of human expression, such as clasped hands, closed or sunken eyes, and bowed heads, as in Leonard Baskin’s Mourning Mother, Jose Clemente Orozco’s Mural Detail Grief, or Charles White’s Black Sorrow. The sections “Symbols of Lamentation” and “Rituals of Grieving” offer themes from various cultures and religions viewed through modernists’ perspectives. Christ is lowered from the cross in Bob Thompson’s The Deposition. Mourners participate in a candlelight Day of the Dead ceremony in a photograph by George Holton, or express their grief over an open casket, as in Carlos Faz’s lithograph Funeral. Rituals of grieving can inscribe themselves on the body, as explored in the section “Wearing Grief,” which looks at the tradition of mourning attire and how the body can be clothed to convey and to obscure emotion. A final section explores how artists distill and convey deep emotion through abstraction, as in Robert Motherwell’s monumental Elegy to the Spanish Republic.  

Elegy is intended to elicit a range of experiences and questions for visitors. For some, the works on view may prompt the consideration of the different roles of the visual arts in the grieving process, from emotional catharsis to behavioral catalyst to inspiration to seek justice. For the others, the exhibition may offer a sense of comfort and commiseration as they grapple with grief of their own. The invitation of Elegy is to create a space for thinking about these powerful conditions and emotions. 

Jessica Todd Smith, Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art, and Manager, Center for American Art 

Elegy: Lament in the 20th Century has been made possible by the Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, the Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky Installation and Exhibition Fund, Ellen and Ronald Caplan, Marsha W. Rothman, Boo and Morris Stroud, and other generous donors. Additional support provided by the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Credits as of January 19, 2022.


Through April 11,  2022 
Norman and Sarah Keyes Family Gallery (256) 

Inspired by the marine paintings by Édouard Manet as well as by seascapes by Gustave Courbet and Eugène Boudin in the collection, this small installation of works on paper explores the role the sea has played for artists working in the nineteenth century and beyond. The installation includes prints that feature the sea as a powerful force of nature, a scenic location of leisure and relaxation, and a vehicle for connection in an increasingly globalized world, including the transatlantic slave trade. Among the highlights are Kara Walker’s no world from the series An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters from 2010, as well as prints by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Alfred Stieglitz, Hiroshige, among others. 

Theresa A. Cunningham, Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 

Art in Public Spaces

In the new and newly renovated spaces created by the Core Project—Lenfest Hall, the North Entrance, the Vaulted Walkway, the South Hall, North Lobby, and the Forum—the museum is exhibiting contemporary works of art that highlight a diversity of artists within the collection. For the first installation in the Williams Forum, Teresita Fernández has installed a large-scale installation titled Fire (United States of the Americas) (2017). This three-dimensional rendering in the shape of the United States and its territories is composed of in over sixty pieces of charcoal. Born in Miami to Cuban immigrants, Fernández uses nature and landscape to explore questions around place and identity. Martin Puryear’s wall sculpture titled Generation, 1988, is prominently displayed on the wall that separates Lenfest Hall from the Forum. A large-scale work made of stainless steel that takes the form of a human head titled Nuria by Spanish artist and sculptor Jaume Plensa greets visitors in the South Hall, and nearby are Sol LeWitt’s colorful and irregular forms entitled Splotch (2003). Visitors can encounter Barbara Chase-Riboud’s bronze, rayon, and cotton sculpture, Malcolm X #3, as they walk further into the South Vaulted Walkway. In the North Vaulted Walkway, a stainless-steel work, Two Box Structure, by David Smith is on view, and nearby, a contemporary sculpture made of light bulbs, porcelain, and an extension cord by Cuban-born American visual artist, Felix González Torres, Untitled (Petit Palais) (1992), is on view in the North Lobby. 

Recent Installations 

Rodin’s Hands 
Through December 2023 
The Rodin Museum 

“Rodin is the sculptor of hands—furious, clenched, rearing, damned hands,” wrote the French critic and poet Gustave Kahn, describing Auguste Rodin’s talent for concentrating emotion and storytelling into this body part. The exhibition invites visitors to consider how the artist’s modelling gives hands a tension and vitality that may be more expressive or dramatic than a figure’s face. Rodin almost obsessively explored the expressive power of hands, using them to convey an infinite variety of emotions and experiences. 

The exhibition highlights fifteen bronzes and plasters—many of them rare or unique to the Philadelphia collection—to discuss Rodin’s process. Drawing on a vast stock of sculpted hands in his studio, the artist reused, reoriented, and repurposed hands in his sculptures to create unexpected juxtapositions and infuse works with new meaning. It was not lost on Rodin or his contemporaries that sculptors are first and foremost modelers reliant on their hands. 

Enlarged hands or those distended by age or disease were vital components of figural sculptures such as The Burghers of CalaisThe Three Shades, or The Helmet-Maker’s Wife. Later in Rodin’s career, works like The Cathedral or The Hand of God are comprised of hands, cut at the wrist or forearm, that offer symbolist essays on humanity and creation. 

Exhibition highlights include The Cathedral, a sculpture modelled in 1908 that depicts two over-life-size right hands whose fingertips are about to touch. The sculptor published a book on the Gothic cathedrals of France in 1914 and renamed this piece, formerly known as The Arch of Alliance, after the rib vaulting found in Gothic churches. 

Rodin almost obsessively explored the expressive power of hands, using them to convey an infinite variety of emotions and experiences. It is thought that he conceived The Clenched Hand and The Left Hand as studies for The Burghers of Calais but rejected the hands as being too animated. Recently, Stanford University scientists have proposed that the model for The Clenched Hand suffered from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a nerve disorder that causes muscle contractions. Rodin’s desire to study nature and represent it truthfully inspired him to study medical specimens at the Dupuytren Museum in Paris. 

A piece unique to the Rodin Museum is the bronze sculpture of clasping hands titled Two Lovers. The plaster model for it at the Musée Rodin in Paris is inscribed: “Hands of Rodin and Rose Beuret,” suggesting that the hands are those of the sculptor and his mistress and partner. 

In Rodin’s vision of creation, The Hand of God emerges not from heaven but from earth and cradles a rock from which male and female figures emerge. The divine hand with its open, curving palm and outstretched index finger is identical to a right hand that appears twice in The Burghers of Calais: once on the figure of Pierre de Wissant, who raises it to his face in a gesture of acceptance and offering, and again for his brother Jacques de Wissant, from whom the hand hangs in a gesture indicative of hesitation and doubt. 

Jennifer Thompson, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection

New Galleries of Early American Art 
The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Galleries (100–108) 

A major re-installation devoted to the presentation of the museum’s extensive holdings of American Art spanning 1650 through 1850 inaugurates the museum’s new 10,000 square foot suite of galleries for American Art—a distinctive feature of Frank Gehry’s Core Project of the Facilities Master Plan—which also includes new galleries for Contemporary Art, together adding more than 20,000 square feet of gallery space within the museum’s footprint. The opening of these galleries represents the first major expansion and reinterpretation of the museum’s renowned collection of American Art in over 40 years. Arranged chronologically and thematically, this new installation showcases the rich diversity of cultures and creative traditions that contributed to the formation of early American artworks. New interpretations of this collection explore the artistic ties linking the Americas to Asia; the role of enslavement in the production and financing of art throughout the period; Philadelphia's role as an influential cultural capital; and the stories and works of Black, women, and Indigenous artists, promoting the museum’s vision to bring the collection to life and advancing scholarship in the field. 

See full press release

Curatorial Team 

Kathleen A. Foster, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Senior Curator of American Art and Director, Center for American Art; David Barquist, The H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., Curator of American Decorative Arts; Alexandra Kirtley, The Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts; Carol Soltis, Project Associate Curator; John Vick, Collections Project Manager; Rosalie Hooper, Interim Head of Interpretation and Project Curatorial Assistant. 

Academic Advisors 

The following individuals offered advice on the planning of the new Early American Art galleries, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Zara Anishanslin, Associate Professor of History and Art History, Director, History of American Civilization Program, University of Delaware; Dennis Carr, Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; Deirdre Cooper Owens, The Charles and Linda Wilson Professor in the History of Medicine, Director of the Humanities in Medicine Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Director, Program in African American History, The Library Company of Philadelphia; John Demos, Samuel Knight Professor Emeritus of History, Yale University; Leslie M. Harris, Professor of History, Northwestern University; Kelli Morgan, Ph.D., Independent Curator; Jami Powell, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Native American Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Daniel K. Richter, Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania; Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair and Associate Professor, Department of the History of Art University of Pennsylvania; Page Talbott, Ph.D., Director of Museum Outreach, Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships, Drexel University; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Emerita, Harvard University; Denise L. Valentine, Professional Storyteller, Educator, and Historian. 


The installation of the new Early American Art galleries has been made possible with lead support from the Henry Luce Foundation, and by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, The Richard C. von Hess Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy Demands Wisdom, an anonymous donor, The Davenport Family Foundation, Edward and Gwen Asplundh, Dr. and Mrs. Robert E. Booth, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. James L. Alexandre, The Americana Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. S. Matthews V. Hamilton, Jr., The McLean Contributionship, Lyn M. and George M. Ross, Dr. Salvatore M. Valenti, the Wunsch Family, Donald and Gay Kimelman, Boo and Morris Stroud, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald C. Anderson, Matz Family Charitable Fund, Marsha and Richard Rothman, and other generous donors. 

Additional support for the museum’s building project, including the construction of the new Early American Art galleries, was provided by Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, Laura and William C. Buck, Kathy and Ted Fernberger, Joan and Victor Johnson, John and Christel Nyheim, Lyn M. and George M. Ross, National Endowment for the Humanities, Marshaand Richard Rothman, and other generous donors. 

Ongoing support for American Art initiatives and programs is provided by the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, established by Robert L. McNeil, Jr. 

Credits as March 10, 2021. 

Reinstallation of Nineteenth-Century European Art Galleries
Galleries 250–265

The museum has renovated and reinstalled fourteen of its galleries dedicated to European art of the nineteenth century, creating engaging new dialogues among the painting, sculpture, and decorative arts on view. Thematic presentations focusing on Impressionism, Art Nouveau, and other movements, are interspersed with displays dedicated to single artists or rooms exploring the role of industry and design in the period. On view are many of the museum’s most acclaimed works of art, including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by Mary Cassatt, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, and their contemporaries, as well as furniture by such celebrated designers and artisans as Charles-Guillaume Diehl, Hector Guimard, Edward William Godwin, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The reinstallation provides an opportunity to explore a range of 19th-century European narratives through a fresh contemporary lens. 

Gallery 253 titled “Painting Nature” explores the growing appeal of Realism and how artists turned to nature for inspiration in rendering scenes of everyday life. Work by Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899), one of the most famous female artists during the nineteenth century, is installed alongside those of Gustave Courbet (1819–1877), who vowed only to paint what he could see. In this arrangement focused on artists who depicted scenes of ordinary life, Courbet’s seascape Marine: The Waterspout (1870), is installed near Jean-François Millet’s realistic portrayal of French peasants using torches in a nighttime hunting scene titled Bird’s-Nesters, dated 1874. The installation explores how these artists’ styles and choice of subject matter differed from the practices set forth in art academies and demonstrates how they helped to chart a path for the Impressionists. The majority of works on view in this gallery are from the collection of the distinguished Philadelphia lawyer and art collector, John Graver Johnson (1841–1917), and reveal his astute eye for the art of his time and his generosity to his native city. 

Grand paintings in the Academic style characterized by idealized subject matter and a refined touch are the focus of works on view in Gallery 255, titled “Academic Art.” These paintings and sculptures boast polished surfaces, skillful lines, and subjects that were designed to educate and appeal to a wide variety of audiences. Key works include Eduard Charlemont’s Moorish Chief (1878); Marcello’s Pythian Sibyl, Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s classically inspired painting, A Reading from Homer (1885); the newly acquired Vase of the Titans; a sculptural ceramic by Auguste Rodin and Albert Carrier-Belleuse; and other examples that reflect the ideals cultivated in art schools and official salon exhibitions throughout Europe. Beyond France, national art academies sprang up in England, Austria, and Germany. 

Another gallery is devoted to artists who challenged the academic system. French landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and urban scenes by artists Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, and Claude Monet, are all presented in a large room dedicated to Impressionism, Gallery 252. Blended colors, visible brushwork, and dynamic compositions are visible in celebrated canvases, installed alongside sculptures of galloping horses and elegant ballet dancers by Degas, as well as bronzes depicting the athletes and fragments of the human body by master sculptor Auguste Rodin. The installation illuminates how these artists revolutionized painting as well as sculpture, choosing to capture the fleeting natural effects of the world around them in ways that felt like lived experience. 

Gallery 259, “Beyond Paris,” features artists who responded to the effects of French Impressionism throughout Europe. Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s Mermaid, 1896, is surrounded by paintings and sculpture to evoke the painting’s original setting in a house in Norway and demonstrate how Munch and his fellow Scandinavian, French, and American artists adopted and adapted the color, light, and brushwork of Impressionism. This gallery brings together well-known paintings by artists John Singer Sargent, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Frits Thaulow, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Antonio Mancini, Viggo Johansen, Emilio Sanchez Perrier, among others, to show how different locations served as sources of inspiration and influenced painters leading into the twentieth century. 

An intimately scaled gallery is devoted entirely to works by Paul Cézanne, highlighting his distinctive brushstroke and the ways in which he explored color and light to convey shapes and the solidity of forms. Fruit on a table, several portraits of his wife, and scenes from secluded groves in Aix-en-Provence fill the walls of Gallery 260. The new arrangement brings together some of his most important work in the collection to underscore the artist’s intense study of form, structure, and shape. The installation also draws attention to works by Cézanne in other nearby galleries and makes connections with other examples that are housed at the Barnes Foundation, suggesting that the artist’s work is perhaps better represented in Philadelphia than anywhere else. 

In the late 1800s, many artists brought modernity to the female nude. Visitors can compare and contrast this theme in painting and sculpture by artists ranging from Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir to Francis Picabia and French sculptor Aristide Maillol in Gallery 264 titled “Modernizing the Bather.” In addition, Gallery 256 is devoted to works on paper and presents rotating displays of photographs, prints, drawings, and pastels revealing the ways that artists brought innovation to each of these media. 

The Resnick Rotunda houses the museum’s renowned collection of works by Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Gauguin. Installed together for the first time in Gallery 261, the museum’s Post-Impressionism collection highlights the diverse ways in which these artists developed new stylistic devices to render personal and expressive scenes of everyday life. Four Van Gogh paintings: Rain (1889), Sunflowers (1889), Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin and Baby Marcelle (1888), and Portrait of Camille Roulin (1888), hang side-by-side, allowing visitors to consider the artist’s use of color in a range of subjects painted over a single year. Other walls in this space contain Toulouse-Lautrec’s vibrant depiction of dancers and customers mingling in the Moulin Rouge nightclub and Henri Rousseau’s mysterious scene of two monkeys and a milk bottle, The Merry Jesters (1906). 

A sequence of rooms explores design revolutions occurring at the same time. The Arts and Crafts movement that flourished in Britain in the 1880s was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, favoring handmade craftsmanship over machine-made products. On view in Gallery 258 are works by William Morris and decorative wallpapers and furniture designs by other British makers that exemplify Morris’ advice to: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Gallery 262 is dedicated to Art Nouveau—the expressive style that emerged in the late 1890s in response to more historical artistic styles—and its modernist variants in Austria and Germany that evolved toward abstract styles and repeating patterns. Notable works that define this movement include pieces by Émile Gallé, Hector Guimard, and Edward William Godwin. 

The scope of the recent renovations includes intensive cleaning, resurfacing the walls, fresh wall colors, refinishing floors, as well as adding new casework, window treatments, and seating for visitors. 

The curatorial team includes Jennifer Thompson, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection; Kathryn Hiesinger, the J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700; Curatorial Fellow Olivier Hurstel; and Research and Exhibition Assistant Eileen Owens. 


Support for the reinstallation of the galleries of nineteenth-century European art has been generously provided by Robert and Lynne Pollack, an anonymous donor in honor of Williamina and Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, John and Gloria Drosdick, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart A. Resnick, Harriet and Ron Lassin, Maxine de S. Lewis, Katherine Sachs, and Martha McGeary Snider. 

Support for both the exhibition The Impressionist’s Eye and the reinstallation of the galleries of nineteenth-century European art has been generously provided by Lyn M. Ross, Joan F. Thalheimer and Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky. The Impressionist’s Eye was made possible by presenting sponsor Bank of America. Contributions to the exhibition were also made by The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Fund for Exhibitions, and an anonymous donor. 

Credits as of October 28, 2019. 

Chinese Art Galleries 
Main Building, Third Floor 

The presentation showcases art in all media, including paintings, sculpture, porcelain, ceramics, carvings, metalwork, costume and textiles, furniture, and contemporary works. 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses one of the country’s earliest Chinese art collections, initially established through purchases made at the Centennial International Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. Today it includes more than 7,000 works in a wide range of media spanning more than 4000 years. Strengths include Tang dynasty (618–907) tomb figures, Song dynasty (960–1127) ceramics as well as Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasty (1644–1911) imperial art and Buddhist sculpture. The collection includes more than 500 paintings, dating from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries, as well as costumes and textiles, furniture, jades, lacquer wares, and cloisonné. It also features three remarkable architectural interiors: an early 15th century coffered ceiling from an imperial Buddhist temple, a seventeenth-century painted wood reception hall, and an eighteenth-century scholar’s study that provide context for the collection and an exceptional immersive experience. 

This renovation and reinstallation of the Chinese galleries is part of an ongoing series of reinstallations of the museum’s collection that began with the Rodin Museum in 2012 and continued with the renovation of its galleries of South Asian art in 2016. The reinstallation is led by project director Dr. Hiromi Kinoshita, Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Curator of Chinese Art, who’s interpretive plan is arranged around key themes through which four thousand years of art can be understood. 

Coinciding with the reopening of its galleries of Chinese art, the museum has published Chinese Art: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in association with Yale University Press (256 pp.) This illustrated book features highlights ranging from antiquity to the present day. It includes an introductory essay by Dr. Kinoshita about the collection’s formation, illuminating its unique character and importance. The volume is available for purchase in the Museum Store or online via store.philamuseum.org

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Hiromi Kinoshita, Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Curator of Chinese Art 

The reinstallation of the museum’s galleries of Chinese Art was made possible by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Hannah L. Henderson, Marguerite Lenfest, Maxine de S. Lewis, June and Simon K.C. Li, Joan F. Thalheimer, Andrea Baldeck, M.D., Sueyun and Gene Locks, Peter A. Benoliel and Willo Carey, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cynthia L. Johnson, Frank S. Bayley, Suzanne F. Boda and George W. Grindahl, Dr. Alan M. and Deena Gu Laties, Peggy Wachs, two anonymous donors, and other generous donors. 

South Asian Art Galleries 
Main Building, Third Floor 

One of the world’s most significant collections of art from a vast area including India, Iran, Tibet, and parts of Southeast Asia is presented in a complete transformation of our renowned South Asian galleries. Highlights include a stone temple hall from southern India, courtly Indian miniature paintings, ornate Buddhist works from Tibet and Nepal, colorful textiles, and lively temple sculptures. The galleries also feature significant physical improvements, such as state-of-the-art lighting, flooring, and casework that enhance the presentation of storied objects. 

Works added to the collection include Shahzia Sikander’s video animation Disruption as Rapture (2016), which reimagines the Museum’s rare 1743 manuscript titled Gulshan-i-Ishq (Rose Garden of Love), and two large piccawai, or shrine hangings. 

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Darielle Mason, Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art 

The reinstallation of the Museum’s galleries of South Asian Art was made possible by the Estate of Phyllis T. Ballinger, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Gupta Family Foundation Ujala, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and The McLean Contributionship. Generous donors to this initiative include Steve and Gretchen Burke, Sailesh and Manidipa Chowdhury, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Kimelman, Mr. and Mrs. Shantanu RoyChowdhury, Pamela and Ajay Raju, the Jones Wajahat Family, Paritosh M. and Srimati Chakrabarti, Drs. Julia A. and Eugene P. Ericksen, Ira Brind and Stacey Spector, Lyn M. Ross, Dennis Alter, Andrea Baldeck M.D., Tushar and Amrita Desai, Shanta Ghosh, David Haas, Dr. Krishna Lahiri, David and Jean Yost, and other generous donors. Additional support for the Museum’s building project is provided by Hersha, Shanta Ghosh, and Osagie and Losenge Imasogie. 

Credits as of October 2016. 

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