Frye Art Museum Announces Winter/Spring 2018 Exhibitions and Programs

SEATTLE, WA, November 28, 2017

For its winter and spring 2018 season, the Frye Art Museum is pleased to announce three special exhibitions that reflect the Museum’s dedication to showcasing global contemporary art alongside the work of emerging Pacific Northwest artists, and situating our Founding Collection within broader historical contexts. Additional special programming is planned around significant community events.

Tavares Strachan: Always, Sometimes, Never

January 27–April 15, 2018

Always, Sometimes, Never brings the work of New York-based conceptual artist Tavares Strachan to Seattle for the first time. Strachan incorporates science, art, and the environment to create works that are ambitious in scale and scope. Many of his projects investigate the nature of invisibility, calling into question the conditions that frame and legitimize certain information and histories while obscuring and erasing others. This exhibition places his sculptures, collages, and neon works within and alongside pools of water, echoing the ways Seattle has been shaped geographically and culturally by its rainfall and waterways. By symbolically flooding the museum, Strachan brings submerged histories to the surface and transforms the gallery into a space of actual and conceptual reflection.

Strachan aims to build and connect communities through his work by making visible networks of power that prompt viewers to reconsider their relationships on a local and global level. One of the works in the exhibition, A Children’s History of Invisibility (2017) chronicles topics—including figures, narratives, objects, and languages—often overlooked by society. Each of the twenty-six panels that comprise the work corresponds with a letter of the alphabet, interweaving imagery and texts in an A-to-Z index of underknown histories. The perceived authority of language is also the subject of Us, We, Them (2015) and I Belong Here, (2011), neon sculptures that question declarations of affiliation, location, and identity.

Overlooked histories are also brought forward in a series of collaged portraits, including that of the nineteenth-century Korean empress, Queen Min (2016–17), and twentieth-century musical innovator, Butch Morris (2015–16). The biographies of these figures remain largely unknown, yet their cultural influences have been broad and complex.

The pools that serve as a setting for these works enhance as well as distort each piece, complicating viewers’ ability to see and discern. Water, as a mechanism of both flow and hindrance, is an apt symbol within the artist’s relentless scrutiny of perception and the definition of reality. With each element, Always, Sometimes, Never points to what remains unseen, extending an invitation to dig deeper and explore what lies beyond what we already know.

Tavares Strachan was born in 1979 in Nassau, Bahamas. He received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied glass, and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University. His focus on absence and presence led to his staging Seen/Unseen in 2011, an exhibition of past and new work in an undisclosed location never open to the public. In 2013 Strachan represented the Bahamas in the nation’s inaugural pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale.

Tavares Strachan: Always, Sometimes, Never is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by Erica Barrish and Tavares Strachan. Generous support is provided by Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax, ArtsFund, the Frye Foundation, and Frye Art Museum members.

Ko Kirk Yamahira

February 17–June 3, 2018

For Seattle-based artist Ko Kirk Yamahira, the finished painting is a beginning rather than an end. Painstakingly removing individual threads from the weave of the canvas, he deconstructs his paintings, turning surface into form. He often disrupts the geometry of the support as well, cutting out sections of the wooden stretcher bars to create detached segments bound by loose thread. These remain unfixed and without prescribed orientation, free to be reconfigured over time. Each individual (untitled) work, in turn, functions as a facet of a single project that can never be finished, part of what Yamahira sees as a continuous, daily process of becoming through undoing. This exhibition, Yamahira’s first solo museum presentation, samples the artist’s recent output—including several pieces made for the occasion—to offer a meditation on identity, duality, and the relativity of perception.

Several works in the exhibition are obverse pairs, such as two pieces with the same image—two smiling young women posing for a snapshot—repeatedly silkscreened in a grid over the entire canvas. Yamahira has removed all the vertical threads from one and all the horizontal threads from the other, testing the ways in which such alterations effect the legibility of the image, and allowing the viewer’s gaze to pass through it to the wooden crossbars behind. This line of inquiry is continued in a new suite of four works in which Yamahira adheres the paint-stained threads removed from other works directly to the stretcher bars, fusing the disintegrated image surface and the interior support that it typically conceals. Each of these paintings appears as a four-paned window suspended in front of the wall, literalizing the illusionistic “window on the world” of traditional, representational painting.

Marking, which is usually an additive process, becomes reductive in another new pair of works, puncturing through the surface in an all-over pattern of seemingly spontaneous swirls and curlicues. These works sit on the floor and lean up onto adjacent walls, projecting into the viewer’s space and occupying the space behind with shadow images—a negative of the canvas surface in which the “markings” are visible as light. In these ways and more, the exhibition subtly probes the essential nature of painting, distilling a simultaneity of object and image; the function of contrast in the definition of form; and the time-based aspect of both creation and reception.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Tokyo and London, Ko Kirk Yamahira moved to Seattle from New York in 2015. Individually and as a member of the artist collectives The ConArtist and ART BEASTIES, he has exhibited in galleries across the US and in Japan.

Ko Kirk Yamahira is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by Amanda Donnan. Generous support is provided by ArtsFund, the Frye Foundation, and Frye Art Museum members. Media sponsorship provided by KUOW.

Towards Impressionism: Landscape Painting from Corot to Monet

May 12–August 5, 2018

Towards Impressionism traces the development of French landscape painting from the schools of Barbizon and Honfleur up to Impressionism, featuring over forty works from the extraordinary collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Reims. The Frye Art Museum is one of only two venues in the United States to host the exhibition and selections from the Museum’s own holdings will be incorporated into the show, making this a unique opportunity to situate masterpieces from the collection within their original context.

The Reims museum has one of the world’s foremost collections of landscape paintings by artists associated with the Barbizon colony—artists like Théodore Rousseau, Charles-François Daubigny, Jean-François Millet, and Constant Troyon who gathered in the village of Barbizon between 1830 and 1855 to paint in and around the nearby Forest of Fontainebleau. Fascinated by the mysteries of the forest and rural tradition, the Barbizon artists rejected urban life and the teachings of the French Academy. Where previously landscape had served only as backdrop for allegorical or historical tableaux, the Barbizonists painted landscape for its own sake, working from observation but often infusing their subjects with an emotionality reminiscent of Romanticism.

One of the most significant artists to frequent Fontainebleau, Camille Corot, is a particular focus of the exhibition. Corot’s long life (1796–1875) coincided with the period in which idealized, classically-inflected views of foreign lands like Italy—executed in the artist’s studio and composed according to Academic principles—gave way to native French landscapes painted out-of-doors in direct response to the scenery. Corot also traveled frequently to the Normandy coast, painting in the seaside environs of Honfleur. Later, from about 1850 onwards, a circle of artists would converge in the village around Eugène Boudin, whose preoccupation with light, reflection, and “instantaneity”—most often applied to nautical scenes painted entirely en plein air—would influence the work of visitors like Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet.

Tracing the development of French plein air painting through these seminal figures and their favorite locales, Towards Impressionism witnesses the century-long cultural shift away from the Academy that legitimated landscape as a subject, elevated the subjective experience of the artist, and ultimately gave rise to Modernism.

Artists: Antoine Barye, Jean-Victor Bertin, Eugène Boudin, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Gustave Caillebotte*, Charles-François Daubigny, Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña, Jules Dupré, Henri Joseph Harpignies, Charles Jacque, Stanislas Lépine, Georges Michel, Jean-François Millet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste-François Ravier, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Théodore Rousseau, Alfred Sisley*, Constant Troyon, and Félix Ziem. (*Represented by works from the Frye collection only)

Towards Impressionism: Landscape Painting from Corot to Monet is curated by Suzanne Greub and organized by her team at Art Centre Basel in collaboration with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims and the City of Reims, France. Generous support is provided by Meriwether Advisors LLC, Bonhams, Clark Nuber, USI Kibble & Prentice, and the Frye Foundation.

The Frye Art Museum is a living legacy of visionary patronage and civic responsibility, committed to artistic inquiry and a rich visitor experience. A catalyst for our engagement with contemporary art and artists is the Founding Collection of Charles and Emma Frye, access to which shall always be free.

The Frye Art Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

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