Mickalene Thomas in In Dialogue: Unexpected Visual Conversations: Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, FL
Featuring eleven major works from the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, and an additional painting from the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, St. Petersburg, Florida, this exhibition juxtaposes modern and contemporary pieces with paintings and sculptures from the Museum of Fine Arts. Installed throughout the MFA Collection galleries, In Dialogue creates unexpected visual combinations that inspire contemplation and conversation. Although these pairings bring together paintings and sculptures from different time periods, stylistic movements, and artistic approaches, at the same time these juxtapositions touch upon larger questions—ranging from societal changes and political movements to ideas about how artistic styles evolve and ways of approaching self-expression.
For instance, Thomas Moran’s evocative Florida Landscape (1877), showing the state before it was overwhelmed by development, is hung adjacent Chuck Forsman’s Lizard (1987), a painting that focuses upon a grand mountain vista dominated by dams and roadways. This combination allows visitors to consider how the natural landscape continually changes due to human intervention and how this in turn impacts our lives. Similarly, Al Held’s monumental and boldly abstract Untitled(1964) is installed adjacent Carroll Cloar’s nuanced, small-town Pool Room (1960). This combination explores how we tend to think of the second half of the twentieth century as being the realm of abstraction, even though many artists continued to work in a realist mode. Throughout the museum such visual confrontations will appear, offering a chance to rouse our visitors’ perceptions, making them look more closely, question more deeply, and hopefully causing them to see even familiar paintings differently and more fully.