Twin Cities art museums are overflowing with Japanese art, Russian culture, contemporary ideas, historic photos and more this season.
Even as 2013 rolls into a new year, there are places to go and things that will bring cultural sparkle to your life. Here’s a sampler from around the Twin Cities.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
There’s great pleasure in simply strolling the museum’s marble halls and stopping to enjoy whatever catches your eye, be it a gallery of arts and crafts furniture, a contemporary photo of songbirds tucked among 17th-century Dutch still lifes, or a display of modern African fashions. Everything from American Indian beadwork to Impressionist paintings and French porcelain is on display. And then there are the special exhibitions:
“The Audacious Eye: Japanese Art From the Clark Collection,” closing Jan. 12, features highlights from an amazing collection of Japanese art that the museum acquired in June from California collectors Bill and Libby Clark. Valued at an estimated $25 million, the art spans more than 1,000 years and every aspect of the culture, from delicate ink paintings of rugged mountains, wild birds and life-size bulls, to folding screens depicting aristocrats at work and play under skies filled with golden clouds. The 19th-century paintings include images of monsters, ghosts and even a demonic nightclub. The contemporary art is astonishing, especially a cone-shaped porcelain bowl nearly 3 feet tall and a knife-edged porcelain column glazed in translucent celadon. Traditional and modern materials, ancient literature and whimsical diversions, introduce aspects of Japan rarely seen in the West. ($12 Tuesday-Fridays, $14 on Saturdays and Sundays.)
“31 Years: Gifts From Martin Weinstein,” through Aug. 31, samples about 70 of the more than 500 photos given to the museum by Weinstein, the Minneapolis art dealer whose eclectic taste ranges from boxing matches to union rallies and Paris street scenes, from informal portraits of musicians (Louis Armstrong, Little Richard) to politicians and nudes.
2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. • 612-870-3000 • www.artsmia.org •
free unless noted
Walker Art Center
“Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties” (closing Jan. 12): Though Oldenburg’s popular “Spoonbridge and Cherry” fountain is shut down for the winter, the Walker has an amusing survey of the artist’s early work, including grainy videos of zany happenings, big vinyl and canvas sculptures of food, clothing and appliances (desserts, burgers, light switches), and a walk-through collection of toys and trinkets that inspired him.
“Nine Artists” (through Feb. 16): Provocative and free-ranging, the eight (yes) artists use films, videos, sculpture, paintings, even a tombstone, to challenge accepted ideas about everything from Polish anti-Semitism to gay marriage, the American surveillance industry and collectible kitsch. Some pieces are amusing, others disturbing, all provocative. The best is “And Europe Will Be Stunned,” a three-part faux documentary video about an idealistic young Pole who entreats his countrymen to welcome Jews back to Poland, where more than 3 million of them died in the Holocaust or were subsequently expelled. Its pitch-perfect meld of fact, fiction, idealistic hope and bitter recrimination is compelling and memorable.
1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-375-7600 • www.walkerart.org • $8-$12; free for 17 and younger, and for all on Thursday evenings.
Museum of Russian Art
“The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost” (through March 23): Founded in 1613, exactly four centuries ago, the Romanov dynasty ruled Russia with enlightened self-interest and sometimes despotic caprice. The aspirations and personalities of various Romanovs are sympathetically but unsentimentally captured in this sweeping show of royal memorabilia — paintings, documents, porcelain, clothing and even coronation menus. Organized by TMORA, “Romanovs” is an extraordinary display of intimate treasures, including a petticoat belonging to Anastasia and home movies of the last czar’s family hunting, touring and even roller skating on the royal yacht.
5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls. • 612-821-9045 • www.tmora.org • $9 adults
Weisman Art Museum
“WAM@20 Choice” (through Jan. 5): To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its jazzy Frank Gehry-designed Cubistic building overlooking the Mississippi River, the Weisman is showcasing paintings, photos, ceramics and other art acquired in each of the past 20 years. The stylish displays highlight the smallest, oldest and longest acquisition for each year, plus the favorite pieces chosen by the museum’s tour guides and by its director. Their eclectic picks range from an Annie Leibovitz photo of Bruce Springsteen to beautiful drawings, pottery and paintings.
333 East River Rd., University of Minnesota East Bank campus, Mpls. • 612-625-9494 •
www.weisman.umn.edu • free