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MFAH

Beyond Craft: Decorative Arts from the Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Beyond Craft Decorative Arts exhibition Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Beyond Craft: Decorative Arts from the Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
February 23 - May 26, 2014

In February, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will present the first major exhibition of the Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection, a remarkable group of 170 artworks—ceramics, fiber work, furniture, glass, jewelry and works on paper—acquired by the Museum in 2010. Beyond Craft: Decorative Arts from the Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection will showcase 85 objects by 50 artists—including Olga de Amaral, Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, Sam Maloof, Richard Marquis, Albert Paley, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos and Toshiko Takaezu—and highlight important studio objects made from the mid–1960s to the 2000s with a focus on the 1960s–80s, the collection’s great strength.

“Lee and Mel Eagle were adventurous collectors at a time when the boundaries between high art and studio craft were challenged by cognoscenti and prescient dealers; the result is a distinctive collection that reflects the technical innovations and shifting tastes of the last half century,” said Museum director, Gary Tinterow.

“Since the Museum acquired the collection in 2010, many of the works have been featured in permanent collection presentations, providing glimpses into its riches,” said Cindi Strauss, curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design. “Now, for the first time, the Museum will present the collection and visitors can experience the power of these individual objects while appreciating the Eagles’ vision as collectors.”

Leatrice and Melvin Eagle began by collecting works of clay in 1960 and the medium remains at the heart of their collection to this day. Lee’s early training as a ceramist led to a lifetime devotion to clay, a passion that Mel has shared with her over the years. As the couple became sophisticated observers of the field and their preferences took shape, they successfully assembled a museum-quality collection of ceramics, fiber art, furniture, jewelry and prints, paintings and drawings. Their passion grew beyond living with objects to encompass a deep respect for art and artists, as well as a lifelong commitment to promoting and supporting their work through institutional and personal involvement.

Beginning with the 1973 establishment of Eagle Ceramics—a business that provided the resources to make and teach ceramics—the Eagles immersed themselves in the art community and began forming relationships with many prominent artists. From 1979 to 1983, Montgomery College, Eagle Ceramics and the American Hand Gallery in Washington, D.C., collaborated to present of a series of workshops, lectures and exhibitions called “Making It in Clay.” These events enabled the Eagles to meet prominent artists and the couple started collecting their works in depth. Ralph Bacerra, Don Reitz, Adrian Saxe and Michael Cardew have remained touchstones for the Eagles and lasting friendships with the artists resulted from these initial meetings. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Eagles were inspired to acquire collection subsets in jewelry, fiber and furniture and expand their significant holdings in West Coast ceramics, particularly those made in the 1960s and 1970s during the heyday of the Funk movement.

The Museum’s embrace of craft as an art form led to the Eagles’ choice of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as the new home for their collection in 2010. Since that time, the Eagle Collection has been a great asset to the permanent collection, enhancing its strengths in ceramics, glass and jewelry, and filling major gaps in fiber and furniture.

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  • Scandinavian Design / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Scandinavian Design / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Scandinavian Design / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    August 26, 2012 – January 27, 2013

    Scandinavian Design, drawn from the MFAH collection of decorative arts, showcases furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, and lighting from the 1920s to the 1970s. The MFAH first acquired examples of modern Finnish glass in 1954, and in recent years the museum has built on this history by acquiring outstanding objects by architects, designers and manufacturers such as Georg Jensen, Orrefors, Alvar Aalto, Bruno Mathsson, Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva, Tapio Wirkkala, Poul Henningsen, Finn Juhl and Verner Panton.

    The objects created by designers active in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway during the 20th century embody a distinctive aesthetic typified by an emphasis on high-quality design distributed widely through mass production. Often Minimalist, and characterized by clean lines, the Scandinavian design movement originated with a 1950s design show that traveled to the United States and Canada to showcase Nordic designers and the “Scandinavian way of living.” Scandinavian design influenced the development of Modernism in North America and Europe, and it continues to shape decorative arts today.

    This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Generous funding is provided by Dr. Marjorie G. Horning.

    Entrance to this exhibition is included with the museum admission. MFAH Members receive free general admission.

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  • Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection exhibition at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    March 4 - June 3, 2012

    New York-based scholars and gallerists Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio have been leaders in the ceramics field for three decades, assembling one of the most important private collections of contemporary ceramics in the world. In 2007, the MFAH acquired the Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection of some 475 artworks, as well as the accompanying library and artist archive.

    Shifting Paradigms presents nearly 160 objects—ceramics and works on paper—from this richly diverse collection, which includes major international figures such as Kenjiro Kawai, Jean-Pierre Laroque, Adrian Saxe, Peter Voulkos, and Beatrice Wood, many of whom are represented in depth, as well as examples by Anthony Caro, Lucio Fontana, Claes Oldenburg, and Grayson Perry.

    The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, copublished by the MFAH and Yale University Press.

    Generous funding is provided by:
    Sara and Bill Morgan
    Friends of Contemporary Ceramics
    Michael W. Dale
    The Schissler Foundation
    The Susan Vaughan Foundation
    Supporters of Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio

    The Shartle Symposium is also presented in conjunction with the exhibition Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection.

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  • Shartle Symposium - Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Shartle Symposium - Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Shartle Symposium - Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Saturday, March 03, 2012
    1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

    Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection.

    Welcome and Opening Remarks
    - Cindi Strauss, MFAH assistant director, programming; curator, modern and contemporary decorative arts and design; organizing curator of the exhibition

    Sealed Capsule
    - Garth Clark, scholar, gallerist, and collector
    Is the 20th-century ceramics movement over? In the 21st century, is ceramics a fully accepted fine-arts material but no longer an autonomous discipline? If so, is this a good thing? Garth Clark examines a turning point in this millennia-old medium.

    On Conscripting Mugs and Other Ceramics into Life’s Battles for Independence
    - Ezra Shales, associate professor of art history, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University
    In the field of ceramics, a distinction is often made between “functional” objects and “art” objects—a binary opposition that is both reductive and misleading. Ezra Shales critiques the validity of the term “functional” and investigates how drinking vessels remain key tools in the assertion of one’s identity.

    The Well-Wrought Urn
    - Jenni Sorkin, assistant professor, contemporary art and critical studies, School of Art, University of Houston
    This talk reconsiders Garth Clark’s groundbreaking exhibition American Ceramics, 1876 to the Present against the backdrop of mid-20th-century formalism, in particular Cleanth Brooks’s The Well-Wrought Urn (1947), Herbert Read’s criticism on modern sculpture, and the Syracuse Annuals exhibition series.

    From Postmodernism to Postindustrialism
    - Jorunn Veiteberg, professor of curatorial studies and craft theory, Bergen National Academy of the Arts, Norway
    A re-evaluation of the decorative and a reuse of historical forms were central to ceramics in the 1980s, the key decade of Postmodernism. But what has happened since? Are contemporary ceramics still Postmodern, or have new paradigmatic shifts taken place?

    Panel Discussion
    - Mark Del Vecchio joins the speakers. Moderated by Cindi Strauss.

    Reception
    - The audience is invited to a wine reception with the speakers in the lobby of the Beck Building, and to view the exhibition.

    This event is open to the public. Seating is limited. Free with general museum admission. MFAH Members always receive free general admission.

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