Spring Awakening

A new season of engaging exhibits opens in museums across St. Louis.

 

Curators across the city have been working during the last weeks of winter’s hibernation to prepare for a trio of spring openings at the Missouri History Museum, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Whether it’s exploring the power of Nazi propaganda on a national psyche; contemplating what’s meant by “home” in an ever-transient world or delving into postmortem incarnations of the first Surrealist’s art, there’s bound to be a theme that intrigues and re-awakens the imagination.

The Power of Propoganda

On April 11, the Missouri History Museum focuses its lens on Nazi propaganda between the end of WWI and the end of WWII with “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.” Organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the traveling exhibit is nationally recognized as one of the foundational shows on the topic. Adolf Hitler gained support and maintained power over the German people through an unprecedented use of propaganda, and the exhibit presents a fascinating look into the power of mass communication and psychology on the behavior of a nation.

The exhibit, marking the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust, explores how Nazis controlled information to create a national German identity of exclusion, and how, during the war, it was used to mobilize people within the community to support the war itself, says curator Adam Kloppe. The exhibit also examines the role propaganda played in inciting war crimes by walking the audience through the Nuremburg trials.

“The show challenges people to really consider what propaganda is and to think critically about it, its use and where they see it in their own lives—and the dangers of that,” says Kloppe.

State of Deception” runs until Sept. 2.

Breaking Boundaries

The advent of globalization has opened the door for easier international commerce, circulation of information and worldwide travel—but it’s also opened up a host of new questions regarding socioeconomic inequality, political structure and, on a personal level, where exactly home is in a world of ever-shifting identities and movement.

Neither Here Nor There: Borders and Mobility in Contemporary Art,” which opens April 10 at Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, puts these new dichotomies under the lens by examining work from contemporary artists Yto Barrada, Alan Cohen, David Goldblatt and Allan Sekula. Utilizing both poetic and documentarian approaches, the artists explore these topics from a variety of positions to capture, explore and question the current human condition.

The exhibition is organized by art history majors from the 2014-2015 Arthur Greenberg Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship program, giving them first-hand experience curating an important exhibition.

Neither Here Nor There” runs until Aug. 2.

All About That Bosch

Beginning April 17, Saint Louis Art Museum’s “Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print” exhibit explores how printmakers inspired by the Northern Renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch kept his groundbreaking legacy alive after his death, and—aided by the printmaking revolution—brought art to the masses.

The mastermind was one of the first in the highly religious late 1400s to light-heartedly comment on just how futile and transient earthly life is. In Bosch’s fantastical triptych, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” for example, the fantastical middle panel depicts a metaphorical earthly existence of giant berries, cavorting nudes and hybrid animals.

After his death in 1516, his triptych—and other works—continued to capture the imaginations of his artistic countrymen, who created work inspired by his surrealist landscapes. As printmaking reached new heights, new audiences in the middle and lower classes were exposed to the Bosch-inspired art—and, for some, new ways to consider their place in the world.

“People were collecting images in a new way,” says SLAM’s curator of prints, drawings and photographs, Elizabeth Wyckoff, who solicited the images from a private collector in St. Louis. “They were pasting them on the walls, putting them in albums. We’re living in an age where imagery is everywhere, so this is essentially an earlier iteration of that.”

Beyond Bosch” runs until July 19.

 

6078_1879.jpgPieter van der Heyden, “Big Fish Eat Little Fish,” 1557, “Beyond Bosch.” Photo courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum.

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