Mary Kate O’Hare, Associate Curator of American Art, Newark Musuem discusses the exhibition Constructive Spirit at the Amon Carter Museum of Art.
This past June I spent a wonderful week at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. I was there to install the exhibition I organized, Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s-50s, which was on view at the Newark Museum, February 17 – May 23, 2010.
My first day there we installed the Newark Museum’s mobile by Alexander Calder, Triple Gong, at the entrance to the Amon Carter. It was a painstaking process to unpack and hang the mobile. In the pictures you will see the excellent team of Amon Carter registrars, designers and installers who were involved in installing the piece. Once it was up the mobile seemed to literally spring to life, happy to be back in the air. It whirled so forcefully that the gongs dinged several times, filling the space with lovely random chimes. It was a great way to start the installation of the show.
One of the really gratifying experiences of this trip was to see the exhibition in new ways. While some of the groupings of works were similar to the Newark installation, there were several key differences. For example, instead of arranging one full wall of urban-themed photographs as I had done in Newark, at the Amon Carter I decided to display the photographs next to paintings that explored a similar theme. While I loved the all-photo wall at Newark, I was very pleased with the way the Amon Carter layout suggested deep resonances between photographers and painters who were inspired by the geometries of their respective contemporary urban environments.
The lay out of the temporary exhibition galleries at the Amon Carter also allowed us to reorder the thematic sections within the exhibition. At Newark the section of Constructive Spirit that considered the influence of indigenous art on North and South American abstraction was the last gallery encountered by visitors, but at the Amon Carter this section comes second. I was thrilled to see how the works in theses two sections really connected and introduced new “conversations;” in many cases a shared interest in the architectonics and structure of the compositions suggested connections I hadn’t focused on in the Newark installation.
If you find yourself in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this month be sure to stop by the Amon Carter! Constructive Spirit closes there on September 5. After that all the works in the exhibition will return to their owners so be sure to checkout the Picturing America galleries this autumn to reconnect with some of your favorite works from Newark’s collection – like Calder’s Triple Gong and Arshile Gorkey’s Aerial Map – when they go back on view.
To learn more about Constructive Spirit, view the exhibition’s podcast.
For more information, visit newarkmuseum.org.