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items tagged with Figge Art Museum

Sean O’Harrow’s Exit Interview: Figge Executive Director Accepts University of Iowa Museum Position
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2010-08-18 11:02:27

Sean O'Harrow in 2008In Sean O'Harrow's telling, the Figge Art Museum is gaining an ally as much as it's losing an executive director.

It was announced last week that O'Harrow has accepted the directorship of the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), at which he'll start on November 15. A national search for O'Harrow's replacement is expected to take at least four months.

"It is my faith in this region that is keeping me here," O'Harrow said in an interview Friday. "I think there's a lot that eastern Iowa can achieve. There are a lot of great museums and great cultural offerings which I think need to be better promoted, to a certain extent organized, maybe coordinated."

And he said that after three years as executive director, he's leaving the Figge in good shape. "It's a very stable institution right now, and it's offering some very high-quality programs," O'Harrow said. "And if I can help the UIMA, I think that would be a very powerful pairing ... . It was important for me to offer my services."


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Frank Lloyd Wright at the Figge: A Conversation
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Feature Stories

2009-11-24 16:47:00

The Figge Art Museum will soon open its Frank Lloyd Wright gallery, a collection of eight pieces showing the architect/designer's "Prairie" and "Usonian" styles, documenting his shift toward ever-simpler forms.

The Figge describes the gallery as "a significant group of Wright's works that provide a chronological overview of his decorative arts and furniture designs.  Although Wright is a notable architect, he was also an innovative designer of art glass, domestic interiors and furnishings, an aspect of his career that is less well-known to the general public."

Below is an edited audio discussion about the new gallery. Participating are Figge Senior Curator Greg Gilbert and Figge Art Museum Director Sean O'Harrow; asking questions are River Cities' Reader Managing Editor Jeff Ignatius and Quad-City Times Entertainment Editor David Burke.

Download Embed Embed this video on your site Download audio file (mp3, 27 minutes).


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A Look at the Figge's "Paper Trail"
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Feature Stories

2009-07-29 18:30:41

The Figge Art Museum exhibit Paper Trail: A Decade of Acquisitions from the Walker Art Center (running through January 3) is "a very significant show" from "one of the premier contemporary-art museums in the United States," said Figge Executive Director Sean O'Harrow.

But it's clear that O'Harrow's interest in bringing the show here is not limited to its importance. After accessible exhibits featuring duck decoys and the work of John Bloom, O'Harrow is not shy about provoking people with Paper Trail: "This show is really meant to push people further to the other extreme. ... This show is really meant to push our audience. ... We as an institution have to do this."

Some content is politically aggressive, while other works will baffle audiences. One piece, for example, instructs its audience to put a provided sweater on in a certain way. And Laylah Ali's two untitled drawings will certainly prompt plenty to claim that their children could do that. Many people will love the show, O'Harrow said, and many will hate it.

A retrospective featuring the work of roughly 20 artists, Paper Trail was not meant as a traveling exhibition, but O'Harrow convinced the Minneapolis museum to let a scaled-down version come to the Quad Cities - at this point, its only destination.

Students, he said, "can see every big name [in the art world] in the last 20 years." For a lay audience, the biggest name is Raymond Pettibon, who provided the cover art for Sonic Youth's 1990 album Goo.

For more information about the Figge exhibit, click here.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Laylah Ali, 'Untitled'

Paul Chan, 'Worldwide Trash (thanks for nothing Hegel)'

Chuck Close, 'Self-Portrait/Woodcut'

Santiago Cucullu, 'Architectonic vs. H.R.'

Amy Cutler, 'Hen House'

Thomas Hirschhorn, 'Body Mass Index B.M.I.'

Glenn Ligon, 'Self Portrait at Eleven Years Old'

Rivane Neuenschwander, 'Carta Faminta (Starving Letter)'

Raymond Pettibon, 'No title (He allowed her)'

Sigmar Polke, 'Experimente I-IV (Experiment I-IV)'

Edward Ruscha, 'Country Cityscape'

Piotr Uklanski, 'Summer Love Saddle Bag'



Modern Art in a Modern Space: “A Legacy for Iowa,” April 19 Through August 2 at the Figge
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Feature Stories

2009-04-09 14:16:08

Pamela J. White speaks about the painting like it's a pet.

"It doesn't like to travel," she said.

She's talking about Ad Reinhardt's Abstract Painting, which is the work most likely to get blank stares in the Figge Art Museum exhibit A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's Mural & Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

Sam Gilliam - 'Red April'Abstract Painting doesn't like to travel because it's the most fragile work in the University of Iowa Museum of Art's collection, said White, the museum's interim director. When you get close to the piece, you can see that the paint in the corners is cracked. And because of the nature of the work, there's no obvious way to restore or conserve it.

It initially looks like a black square. On closer inspection, it reveals itself as nine black-ish squares.

Figge Executive Director Sean O'Harrow explained the painting this way: "It's about the nature of color, the nature of squares. It's about texture. It's about a general feeling that you get from the work."

But just as important for this exhibit, Abstract Painting represents the challenges of modern art; this is the sort of theoretical work that baffles and frustrates many people -- in a My kid could do that way. "Whether or not you understand it, for people it's modern art," O'Harrow said. "And people recognize that this is what modern art looks like."

Max Beckmann - 'Karneval'Don't run away. Even if you dislike modern art (or think you dislike modern art), A Legacy for Iowa -- which technically opens April 19 even though the paintings can be viewed by the public now -- is a great opportunity to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the Figge: It's an ideal match of modern work and modern venue, facilitated by last year's flood in Iowa City.


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Walking the Talk: The Figge Reaches Out
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2009-01-28 19:42:12
Jackson Pollock's Murual

When the River Cities' Reader profiled Figge Art Museum Executive Director Sean O'Harrow in March 2008, he was, by virtue of having just seven months on the job, mostly talk. There wasn't much of a track record to cite, but he spoke with passion about enhancing the Figge's educational and community missions.

Ten months later, O'Harrow seems poised to deliver on many of his promises.

For example, a March exhibit of Michaelangelo sculptures will be the first time those have been seen outside of Florence, Italy, O'Harrow said.

More importantly, those Michaelangelo sculptures - newly cast in bronze from the fragile originals, which were scanned with a laser - can be touched, and O'Harrow is working to bring in sight-impaired people to feel them.

"Art museums normally ignore these communities," O'Harrow said in an interview Monday. "My view is: Bring everyone in sometime, somehow, for some reason. ...

"I'm really keen to have people experience things in different ways," he added. "No one living has ever been able to touch a Michaelangelo work."

The announcement on Friday that the Figge would be housing most of the University of Iowa Museum of Art collection (nearly all of which is being stored in Chicago following the summer flood in Iowa City) was further confirmation that O'Harrow is serious about education.


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