Saint Louis Art Museum

In 1983, the Saint Louis Art Museum was bequeathed the largest private collection of the work of German artist Max Beckmann in the world. Part of that collection now lives in the museum’s Grigg Gallery, but few people may know what the meaning of the artist’s work is.

Image courtesy of Kyrle Boldt III

Modern art, architecture and decorative arts created in the middle of the 20th century were swamped by the reactionary ruckus of the late 20th century post-modernist movement. 

Given the quality and originality of so much of the mid-century’s aesthetic industry, its relegation to obscurity was a big mistake and a now recognized lapse of taste. However, all wasn’t lost. A new exhibition opening this weekend at the St. Louis Art Museum joins other scholarship and exhibitions dedicated to setting the record straight.

Photo courtesy of the artists.© Steven and William Ladd, All rights Reserved, 2015.

When William and Steven Ladd were 15 years old, they could often be found in the Delmar Loop, buying beads and doing macramé. Though they now work out of a bustling studio in Chelsea, New York, the same childhood collaboration that could be found outside of Blueberry Hill is still at play in their works of contemporary art.

Kali greets his visitors.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Update: This article has been updated to include a State Auditor's approved recoupment of $.0001 for each of the Zoo Museum District institutions.

The Zoo Museum District board is lowering tax rates for the coming year. This will amount to St. Louisans paying a fraction of a cent less per one hundred dollars of taxable property.

Images from zoo museum district entities
File photos and Wikipedia

The debate over charging nonresidents of St. Louis and St. Louis County for admission to the various free Zoo-Museum District institutions was reignited in St. Louis this month. “A small entrance fee of, say, $8 for non-city, non-county people would be fair and would help institutions terrifically,” said Ben Uchitelle, the former chairman of the board of the Zoo-Museum District.

Unidentified artist, Helmet mask, wood. length of 30 and one-half inches. The Arti Institute of Chicago, African and Amerindian Purchase Fund, 1963:842
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

“Senufo Unbound: Dynamics of Art and Identity in West Africa,” an exhibit of extraordinary interest that opened recently at the St. Louis Art Museum, is the rare bird that flies between two branches with grace and a keen sense of intelligent direction.

Mathias Gasteiger, German, 1871-1934; Hercules and the Hydra, 1921-30; bronze; 95 ½ x 77 x 56 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given anonymously 1:1930
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The 15 year-long renovation of the St. Louis Art Museum has finally reached completion. Museum director Brent Benjamin said he hopes the completed sculpture garden will be as well received as the rest of the museum’s changes.

Beyon Bosch exhibit print
Courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum

Did you ever read the description next to a museum painting and scratch your head? The St. Louis Art Museum and Washington University students worked together to combat that head-scratching moment for a new exhibit.

Art museums are working to avoid jargon, or art speak. In this case, the topic is a bit more obscure than Picasso or Rembrandt. It's the influence of 16th century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch on the common culture of his time.

rc)Left to right. Drew Battles (Serge), John Pierson (Ma and Larry Dell (Yvan) talk and laugh about "Art" and life
Nancy Fowler

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter,” poet Khalil Gibran wrote. Nowhere is laughter between companions more important than in the Tony Award-winning play, “Art,” presented by the St. Louis Actors’ Studio, beginning tonight.

But wait, shouldn’t a play called “Art” be about art? Well, it is — and isn’t.

The City & The City: Cotton Belt Freight Depot, 2015
(Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York ©Mariam Ghani)

Mariam Ghani came to St. Louis with the idea of an already divided city.

“There’s a lot of long and complicated history that goes into making St. Louis what it is today,” Ghani said.

Charles Valier, left, and Robert Powell listen to presentation of the ZMD's proposed 2015 Preliminary District Administrative Budget
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Zoo Museum District board member Robert Powell has resigned because of connections with two subdistricts.

“After reflecting on it, I just thought I should resign and not belabor this issue,” said Powell.

Floris M. Oosterveld | Flickr | cropped

Selfie sticks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here; and they seem to be getting more popular.

This week, the Smithsonian Institution — the world’s largest collection of museums, which includes the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum and Portrait Gallery — banned the use of selfie sticks.

George Caleb Bingham painted 'The Jolly Flatboatmen' in 1846. The oil-on-canvas painting is part of the St. Louis Art Museum's Bingham exhibit.
Courtesy of the St. Louis Art Museum

A new exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum tackles the personal interests of a Missouri painter known for his depictions of 19th century elections and politics.

“They are the most spectacular paintings he did,” said Melissa Wolfe, the new curator of American art at the museum.

George Caleb Bingham drawing
Provided by The Saint Louis Art Museum

This Sunday the St. Louis Art Museum is launching a new exhibit focused on an influential Missouri painter whose St. Louis legacy once teetered on the abyss. In 1975, the St. Louis Mercantile Library's collection of George Caleb Bingham drawings was almost sold off to private collectors.

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Belinda Rathbone, the youngest of three children of the late Perry Townsend Rathbone, a former director of the St. Louis Art Museum, placed her father under a magnifying glass that brought into view a revelatory picture of a man and a profession that is at once impartial and exulting.

George Caleb Bingham, Jolly Flatboatmen in Port, St. Louis Public Radio
Provided by the St. Louis Art Museum

At a press briefing this morning, Director Brent Benjamin stressed the museum’s dedication to providing exhibits that highlight St. Louis’ influence on national and international arts. The shows for 2015 draw from Missouri-based collectors, artists and designers.

St. Louis Art Museum East Building
Jacob Sharp/Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems

St. Louis Art Museum board member Barbara Taylor and her husband Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, Inc., recently donated $5 million dollars for a new sculpture garden at the museum. Carl Ham, head of development for the museum, praised the Taylors for their foresight and said the gift would fund both construction and an endowment for maintenance.

“It’s the rare exception and real benefit to organizations when people like the Taylors make a gift that makes possible both,” Ham said.

Flickr | ChrisYunker

Three years after her death, Edith Spink, Ladue's longest serving mayor, continues to shape the area's culture.

Tuesday the St. Louis Art Museum announced a bequest of 225 artworks from her and her husband, Charles Claude Johnson Spink, the onetime publisher of the national sports paper "The Sporting News."

The gift, which is valued at more than $50 million, includes work by famed American painters Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth as well as Chinese and Japanese jade, bronze and porcelain pieces valued at more than $5 million apiece. 

Nick Cave's Soundsuits are assembled from objects found throughout the country
Willis Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri-born artist Nick Cave's Soundsuits are known for vibrant colors and incorporating found objects as costume. The suits straddle the line between dance costume and soft sculpture. This weekend the St. Louis Art Museum opens Currents 109: Nick Cave, a multimedia solo show presenting Soundsuits, video, and additional work. Cave spoke with St. Louis Public Radio's Willis Ryder Arnold about his work as social commentary and creative influences.

Courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum's "Atua: Sacred Gods From Polynesia" exhibition takes a closer look at sculpture and religion, but it's not the first time the museum has explored art from the region.

"The museum's been collecting Pacific art since the 1900s," said Nichole Bridges, associate curator in charge of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the museum. "Most of the permanent Pacific arts collection comes from Melanesia; we have very little that comes from Polynesia. This is a nice complement to our collection."

Work by Edo Rosenblith
Provided by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

First – remember First Friday. The tradition of art galleries being open in the evening on that date is well established in Grand Center and spreading. For instance, Space at 4168 Manchester, will be opening "Visions of a city: A solo exhibit" by Timothy Wagner from 6-9 p.m.

Flickr | ChrisYunker

The St. Louis Art Museum is facing a possible deficit of $9 million as a result of an unfunded liability in the city’s Employees Retirement System (ERS). That amount is nearly one-third of the museum’s $29 million 2014 budget.

via Wikimedia Commons

For its contribution to the 250th anniversary of St. Louis, the St. Louis Art Museum is planning an exhibition showcasing the influence of Louis IX on the world of art. Louis IX, also known as St. Louis, is the city’s namesake.

At the heart of the exhibit will be a folio out of a picture Bible on loan from the Morgan Library in New York.

“We believe that the king, Louis IX, actually commissioned this Bible,” said St. Louis Art Museum curator Judy Mann.  “It is of such outstanding quality it had to have been a royal commission.”

via Wikimedia Commons

How did a French king born in 1214 become the namesake of a city founded in the heart of the Americas 550 years later? The answer is woven into the fabric of St. Louis’ identity even now, as we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding.

Friday marks the 800th anniversary of the birth of the city’s namesake: Louis IX, the only French king to become a saint.

A new exhibit by installation artist Won Ju Lim opened Friday, April 11 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. A mix of sculpture, photography, film and drawings, her exhibition “Currents 108: Raycraft is Dead” is an exploration of privacy and paranoia that was inspired by personal experience with a nosy neighbor.

Lim was an architect before she became an artist, and her work reflects a continued fascination with the field, particularly the psychology of space.  As an artist she is not limited by practicalities such as building codes and can instead focus on broader ideas.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917, Cat. 1050

For the next four months, the East Building of the Saint Louis Art Museum is home to a major exhibition on the changing French identity during the 19th century, as shown through paintings, photography and travel objects of the time.

“Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet” is curated by Simon Kelly of the Saint Louis Art Museum and April M. Watson of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. 

St. Louis Art Museum, looking to the west
Provided by the Art Museum

Visitors to the St. Louis Art Museum will see some changes in the museum's Panorama restaurant.

The museum is looking closely at the menu, service and kitchen operations after a six-month review observed a $260,000 loss. The red ink was noted in a Zoo-Museum District audit of the museum, released last week.

Night view of art museum (2008)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A draft of an audit of the St. Louis Art Museum has turned up no significant issues at that institution, according to board members of the Zoo-Museum District.

Previous audits ordered by the ZMD — for the Science Center and the Missouri History Museum — revealed information that led to shakeups in leadership and changes in governance.

(Via Flikr/Derringsdo)

Commissioners of the Zoo-Museum District, on September 30, voted to raise the property tax rate that funds five St. Louis cultural institutions to the highest level permitted by state law.  Those institutions are the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and Missouri History Museum.

St. Louis Art Museum East Building
Jacob Sharp/Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems

The East Building of The Saint Louis Art Museum, designed by Sir David Chipperfield, world class architect, has been open for only a month and the crowds are still overwhelming the staff, volunteers ,and particularly the docents who have been training harder than ever to give exciting and informative tours of not only the new building, but the beautiful reinstalled galleries of the Cass Gilbert West Building.

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