Fall at The Nelson
Chances are, you’ve noticed one of two changes in the air recently: (1) the mornings are blissfully crisp and cool and (2) the entire Starbucks menu is pumpkin or apple-flavored. Fall is officially upon us. You might be lamenting the onset of sweater weather or maybe, like me, you are ready for sportsball (Go Chiefs/Royals/ [insert team name here]!), crafting the perfect Halloween costume, and seeing all the amazing exhibitions coming up at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. So without any further ado whatsoever, here’s how you can fall so hard at the Nelson (not sorry for that pun):
1. What Lies Beneath: Rediscovering Hieronymus Bosch and Albrecht Bouts (closes May 27th, 2018):
Last year, our Bosch panel The Temptation of St. Anthony (c. 1500-1510) had a starring role in the documentary Hieronymous Bosch: Touched By the Devil (now streaming on Netflix, it’s the perfect thing for cozy nights in), which went on display in Europe to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the painter’s death. The Dutch research team featured in the film discovered, much to everyone’s joy, that our panel is one of the relatively small number of authentic Bosch paintings in the world. The What Lies Beneath exhibition celebrates this discovery through looking at underdrawings and x-rays …and in case conservation research isn’t your thing, then stay for the creepy crawly critters Bosch is so famous for. You may even find inspiration for your Halloween costume!
2. Perspectives on The Gates of Paradise (opened September 8th):
No less otherworldly than our Bosch, is the contemporary cast of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise. This exhibition, focusing on how this work helped usher in the Renaissance and impacted artists’ use of perspective and narrative story-telling ever since, is now open to the public! It’s the trip you’ve always wanted to take to Florence, but now you can take for free. Thanks to a promised gift from KC’s own Paul DeBruce and Linda Woodsmall-DeBruce, one can experience the splendor of the Gates of Paradise right here in Kansas City. The doors on view at the Nelson-Atkins are authorized casts of the originals, which were removed from the Florence Baptistery in 1990 for conservation. Ghiberti’s original Gates can be seen in their restored state at the Museo dell’Opere del Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore. At17 feet tall and weighing 4 ½ tons, the gilded doors feature intricate scenes from the Old Testament designed by true Renaissance man Lorenzo Ghiberti and his workshop. The project took 27 years to realize and stands out as the highlight of the artist’s career. While you’re marveling at all the lifelike details in the doors, keep an eye out for Ghiberti’s selfie visible opposite the third panel down from the left, among the portrait busts.
3. Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism (closes October 29th):
Featuring Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943) and Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 126 (1965-75), this exhibition plays with the word “legend” and aims to help visitors rethink preconceived ideas about Abstract Expressionism. You may have heard that Pollock cut off part of his immense canvas (his biggest ever) or that AbEx artists always worked quickly and spontaneously. These hunches and many more are explored in this show. Pollock’s Mural was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim to hang in the front hallway of her Manhattan townhouse, for what we can only imagine was a wild and colorful experience in such a narrow space. To feel how Peggy would have felt walking past this work, start on the right side of the canvas and walk toward the left-hand side. Voila! Living the New York socialite dream!
4. Through the Eyes of Picasso (Opens October 20th):
The museum is really buzzing with excitement about this fall’s exhibition highlight (and we’re not the only ones, The New York Times included the show in their piece on autumn’s hottest exhibitions). On loan from Paris’ Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, a venue once frequented by the artist himself, this show puts a fresh twist on Picasso’s story, emphasizing his passion for African art. The exhibition combines Picasso’s paintings and sculptures with the African and Oceanic pieces that inspired his revolutionary approach to abstraction. He owned several of the pieces highlighted in the show, so this an exciting look into an artist’s process as much as it is an opportunity to experience a little bit of Paris in Kansas City.