Flashback Exhibit

In 2014, I got the opportunity to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Let me take you back to the wonderful things I saw there.






One of my favorite artists — Jean Michel Basquiat. He is in my top ten list of artists I love. Got an opportunity in April of this year to see a retrospective of his journals, paintings and drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art.   I adore his mix of a graffiti- primitive-childlike style. It’s beautiful.

Free Fall II

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This piece in on loan from the Pizzuti Collection. It is one of my favorites in the Contemporary Art wing at the Columbus Museum of Art.

I did a docent research paper on this piece. You can read the abridged version  below —



Artist – Antony Gormley (British, 1950)

Title of Work – Freefall II (2007)

Stainless steel bars

On loan from the Pizzuti Collection

Description – fractal-like geometric steel pieces, part of the Drift series (2007-2012). According to the artist:

The bodies are free, lost in space, weightless, and with no internal determination—they are not ‘acting.’ They appear as emergent zones: you cannot be sure whether the bubble matrix is produced by the body zone or the zone by the matrix. (Gormley’s website)

Style – Contemporary sculpture. Gormley is characteristically known for his work with life-sized human forms that have ambiguous features and are made of metal visibly soldered together in static poses.

They are casts of the artist’s own body. He is wrapped in cling film, then cloth, then coated with wet plaster, which dries. He is then cut out of the resulting mold, which is reassembled and lead or other metal is pressed into void, or beaten to take his form, and the pieces are welded together (Cumming, p.103)

Gormley was born in 1950, the youngest of seven children to a wealthy family. His father was an avid art lover and would regularly take his children to art museums.  Gormley studied anthropology, archeology and art history at Cambridge (1968-71). It was during a trip to India where he decided to become an artist. Afterwards, he pursued his artistic endeavors at Central, Goldsmiths and Slade Schools of Art, London, 1974- 77.

Significance – Artist deals with the relationship between humans and their environment. Received  the Turner Prize in 1994 for his Fields projects. Most known work is the Angel of the North (1998) in Gateshead, England.

Gormley’s oeuvre is steeped in social theory, anthropology and philosophy.  He is always conscious of space, environment and human form and more importantly, their relationship together. He deliberately exposing the “process by which the work itself was made and the relating it very closely to his own body and existence” (The Guardian, p. 8).

In an article written by Gormley, he discussed the idea of the dualistic nature of sculpture. It is considered a “thing,” it occupies space, and it also can provoke feelings and experiences from the viewer. He continued  to explain this idea,” sculpture itself is an act of liberation…the shape of the thing…are combined with…our experiences of abstract space into something concrete” (Gormley, p.1513)

According to Gormley, sculpture deals with mass and space on a large scale. He invites the beholder to feel their own scale and movement as compared to the sculpture, from this dynamic, emotions arise (Interview Magazine, p.3).



Boström, A. (2004). The encyclopedia of sculpture. Fitzroy Dearborn.

Brookner, J. (1992). The Heart of Matter. Art Journal, 51(2), 8-11.

Cumming, R. (2001). Art: A Field Guide. Alfred A. Knopf.

Kuiper, K. (2014). Antony Gormley – British Sculptor and Draftsman, Encyclopedia Brittannica. Retrieved January 11, 2017 from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Antony-Gormley

Gormley, A. (2007). Feeling into form. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 362(1484), 1513-1518.

Wilson, R. (2016). The Body of Antony Gormley. Interview Magazine. Retrieved January 11, 2017 from http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/antony-gormley-constructs#

Wroe, N. (2005). Leader of the Pack. The Guardian. Retreived January 11, 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/jun/25/art


Students from local schools like this piece too.













Symbolism Movement

Symbolism in Late 19th Century Art_updated

Above is the presentation my fellow docents and I put together in our study group for the upcoming exhibit —

Paris, Fin de Siecle: Signac, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec and Their Contemporaries

And below is the supplemental material I used for my presentation on Odilon Redon.

ODILON REDON – PARIS , FIN de SIECLE Exhibition –  By Sandy Dueker

Brief Background

  • Born in Bordeaux in 1840. At the age of ten he began to draw. At 15 y/o – met first mentor, drawing teacher Stanilas Gorin who pressed upon him to use imagination & be sensitive to his personal feelings
  • 2nd mentor he met in 1861 named Armand Clauvad, a botanist and Darwinist/introduced him – to the works of writers like Poe & Baudelaire; to lectures in anatomy and studies at the natural history museum
  • As an amateur, Redon submitted a few pieces for Bordeaux art show- wasn’t well received
  • Decided to try and study sculpture and architecture/Failed to get into the Beaux art school
  • Afterwards, he attempted to study at an art school in Paris, but he became frustrated with the strict traditional mimetic style
  • In 1863, he met his 3rd mentor- Rodolphe Bresden /introduced him to engraving and lithography (Bresden liked fantastic landscapes with hyper rich detail)
  • About 1865-1866 Redon’s etchings were unimpressive showing no striking ability, until one point he decided to alter a piece
  • Crucial turning point for Redon – Willing to sacrifice representational design for a fantastical design to suit his whim in the moment. His inner eye was stronger that his real eye
  • At this time he struggled with figuring out a way of expressing realistic images and his imagination
  • How does he finally reconcile this outer and inner life dilemma? Charcoals/Noirs!




  • Why charcoals? It fits Redon’s oeuvre
  • As he described — it was an agent of the mind (agent de l’esprit)
  • Versatile medium -constructive/evanescent, has duality, sharpness and density yet diffusing effects that could suggesting openness
  • Quote – “black is the most important color…nothing can prostitute it”/First collection of plates appeared in 1879 (Dan le Reve)
  • Subjects for his noirs: Romantic literature (the art of words – not their literal meaning- the words were a starting point); dream faces (curious, shallow forehead, large staring eyes and mouth like a slit); mysteries, terrors, monsters; hallucinations, daydreams, myths; human forms, animals (horses/winged horses);plants and animals combined; inanimate objects are animated; bodies are distorted
  • He eventually gave up etching b/c the medium lends itself to extraneous details
  • Charcoals allowed him to model his designs in tremendous contrasts


Spider (1887)

Smiling, ballerina like w/delicate arms and legs, winking at us – almost, drawing us in, including us in its forbidden underworld

This spider is enormous compared to most house spiders – w/ its upturned eyeballs, flared nostril, and toothy smile. And in the middle, a flurry round body. Real spiders don’t grin – they have fangs and no teeth. Why would Redon give this spider 10 legs when spiders have 8? We know he studied @ the natural history museums. The reason was b/c he was happiest when he was creating improbable beings with careful observation and some sense creepiness

What do these creatures mean? Redon created his monsters based on science, observing / researching @natural history museum, attending lecture in anatomy & physiology @ school of medicine. He had a way of marrying the real with the fantastic. There is debate as to the origins and meaning of these creatures. They’re not quite subject or object b/c of their mixed nature. It’s unsettling to our identity, our sense of self. Redon embraced the unclassifiable wh/ went against the new science taking hold at the time, called teratology the science of classifying abnormalities (like monsters).

It brings up such questions – What does it mean to be human? What is it not? What is attractive? What is repellent? We now have a new way of seeing things.  Redon’s works represent the extreme of breaking codes/laws and the very limits in the order of things (i.e. Frankenstein – gentle/hideous, etc.) Some things can’t be interpreted or explained – blowing our paradigms, types.



  • Around 1895 he begins to use pastels and oils, eventually, abandoning noirs and lithographs for pastels and oils (around 1897)
  • Why did he do this? There is some debate – It could‘ve been his long waited success, financial stability, happy family life, or the fact that he pushed charcoals as far as he could go
  • Subjects are still the same with some new ones added: flowers & boats
  • A figure, a face, a bouquet are shown to us only in the instant, in an ephemeral apparition, outside of time and we expect them to suddenly disappear
  • W/ regard to his flowers – He wasn’t aware of the imaginary form w/wh/ he endowed his flowers (someone called to his attention to the idea that one of his bouquets included flowers that didn’t exist in nature, he was surprised by this and said he didn’t invent them—he saw them that way)
  • Backgrounds: he had a way of making us see something without showing us anything
  • Every object in this uncertain space becomes and object of uncertainty



  • Rembrandt – how to use deep shadow to evoke mystery
  • Scientific precision of Leonardo
  • Fantastic realism like Brueghel


Style – Shows fantastic mixed in with the real; nebulous and mysterious atmospheres to describe a gamete of other worldly creatures; transformations and metamorphosis; representations of dreams; mysterious powers in the tension between the real and fantastic


Key Terms

  • Chiaroscuro
  • Correspondences
  • Arabesques
  • Suggestive art


The Art of Redon – Fantastic art’s role – Debate between fantasy and reality/imagination and mimesis

How does or should one make art? Through imitation? Invention? What is the role of observation? The place of fantasy? At the time, fantasy art was considered a lesser art form b/c it was considered comical or b/c it was associated w/decoration. It undermines the seriousness of work and deviates from the faithful reproduction of nature.





Visiting the Dayton Art Institute

In August,  I visited the Dayton Art Institute for the very first time. There was a general admission fee to the museum as well as a fee for the current exhibit –  The Antartic Sublime & Elements of Nature: Water.  

Unfortunately, I have sad news.  The Antartic Sublime exhibit was disorganized and underwhelming. My reasons for these criticisms are: first, there weren’t many pieces to the exhibit as compared to other exhibits I’ve seen recently (such as  30 Americans in Cincinnati or The Great War Experimentation and Change in Columbus); and second, there was a physical sense of disjointedness to the exhibit. Unlike normal exhibition spaces  -where the rooms sort of flow together cohesively in a loose maze as you walk through them- the Antartic Sublime was shown in three separate rooms on two different floors of the museum. The combination of these factors created a negative experience for me with this exhibit.

Even though their Antartic exhibit was disappointing,  the permanent collection at the Dayton Art Institute and the museum  itself was quite impressive. It’s a beautiful old building  with an extensive Asian Art and Oceanic collection, decorative arts collection and numerous other ambitious pieces. Shown below are some of the main features from the museum.



Alison Saar’s Lost and Found (2003) [Painting on wall, behind Saar’s work, is by artist Janet Fish]



Pat Steir’s Border Lord (1972)



Dwindell Grant’s Red Circle (1938)



Bodhisattva Guanyin – Chinese, 11th century


Amida Buddha – Japanese, 13th Century


Elephant Mask Costume – Bamileke people, 20th century

30 Americans



Late last month I went to the Cincinnati Art Museum for the first time. While I was there I saw  an exhibit called 30 Americans. The collection was composed of  African-American artists from the past thirty years. Read more about the show here.

Below are some of the high points from the show. (And, may I say, there were A LOT.)



Untitled (1985-1999) by Purvis Young



Bird On Money (1981) by Jean-Michel Basquiat



Non je ne regrette rien (2007) by Wangechi Mutu



The Seven Prisoners of the Abyss (2008) by Noah Davis


Soundsuit (2009, 2008) by Nick Cave


Whore in the Church House (2006) by Mark Bradford  [Top – Two close-up photos of the work. Bottom – The entire piece.]

Columbus Museum of Art – Contemporary Collection

While attending the Picasso The Great War Experimentation and Change exhibit early this past June at the Columbus Museum of Art, I had the opportunity to see the new Contemporary wing of the museum. The wing’s grand opening was in the fall of 2015.

The new wing adds over 50,000 square feet to the museum using 1,500 copper panels on the exterior of the addition.  In my humble opinion, here are some of the gems from the contemporary collection.

Nocturne Navigator by Alison Saar


Paranirvana (Self Portrait) by Lewis deSoto





Side note — The Picasso exhibit, by the way, goes from 6/10/2016 to 9/11/2016.

It’s all in the details

Google came up with a great idea on how you can truly appreciate art in close detail. A new technology called Art Camera, a robotic camera, can take high resolution images of objects. The results are amazing  finely detailed close-ups of artwork.

port of rotterdam

(Above Image – Port of Rotterdam by Paul Signac)

Read more about Google’s Art Camera here.