Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum | St. Louis Public Radio

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

Ai Weiwei and museum curator Sabine Eckmann examine "The Odyssey," a massive frieze in his exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum. In the foreground is a detail of "Forever Bicycle," a sculpture made from 720 bicycles. [11/8/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

When does a mirror selfie become high art? 

For artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, it happened in 2008 when he photographed himself inside an elevator. Chinese authorities arrested him to prevent him from testifying in the trial of a fellow activist. 

His now-iconic selfie, “Illumination,” is part of his exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis. The work ranges from delicate ceramics fashioned with ancient Chinese techniques to a carefully stacked pile of rubble. 

The wide-ranging show reflects Weiwei’s deep interest in honoring the past, while reshaping it into something new. 

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum's new facade is 34 feet tall and made of pleated stainless steel.
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum once sat at the edge of a parking lot, shielded from passing traffic by a row of trees. 

Following an expansion project that closed the museum for a year and a half, it’s back open and much more visible. 

A gleaming, 34-foot-tall facade made of pleated stainless steel now calls attention to the museum of modern and contemporary art. Behind that facade are new galleries that increase the museum’s exhibition space by 50%. 

A central feature of the newly opened Weil Hall is a vertical garden. The building is part of a $280 million expansion to Washington University's campus. [9/26/19]
James Ewing

Washington University students and faculty are using new classrooms and workspaces this fall, now that $280 million in construction projects are nearly complete. 

The construction includes new buildings for engineering, art and architecture students. The university also added a major extension to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, a new welcome center, a cafe, an underground parking garage and a public green space.

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 2015 is part of the Ai Weiwei: Bare Life exhibition.
Provided | Ai Weiwei Studio

St. Louis’ Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will reopen this fall with a big artistic bang: an exhibition by celebrated Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.

The Kemper closed last April for a $12 million renovation, part of $280 million campus project. The work significantly increases the museum’s display space.

The Sept. 28 opening will feature three dozen Ai Weiwei pieces, including some created for the exhibition and others never before seen in the United States.

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is celebrating a decade at its permanent home with a first showing of works from its entire collection.

The museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the university with an event Friday that will highlight its paintings, sculpture and other art.  Founded in 1881, the museum’s had a long focus on European art. But in the last decade it has shifted attention to better spotlight political art.

Kemper museum finds art in drone warfare and surveillance

Feb 2, 2016

Drone warfare has spread from the battlefields to TV and movie thrillers. And now it’s spread to the fine art world. The Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is hosting one of the first museum shows critically examining drones. Yet, say the show’s curators, the art isn’t bogged down in political rhetoric. It's visually engaging and firmly grounded in contemporary art.

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

Defeat is not one of the primary words associated with Sir Winston Churchill’s career. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, he gave the prophetic “Iron Curtain Speech” at Westminster College in 1946, and, most importantly, he emerged victorious during World War II as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. What many people don’t know is that Churchill did in fact experience the agony of defeat…and that’s what fueled his second life as a painter.

50 works build Kemper's collection of political art

Apr 6, 2015
Renée Cox, “It Shall Be Named” (1994). Gelatin silver prints, mahogany, and plexiglass, 105 x 104 1/2 x 4 3Ž4"(framed). Peter Norton Collection.
Courtesy of the Kemper Art Museum

A new gift of more than 50 artworks will expand the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum’s collection of politically conscious contemporary art. 

“Most of the works really have a political edge in relation, for example, to racism or feminism. There are also many works that deal with our media and image saturated society,” said the Kemper’s Director and Chief Curator Sabine Eckmann.

Durant Exhibit Challenges History Of Westward Expansion

Jan 25, 2015
Sam Durant's “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.,” 2005  Kemper
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Kemper Museum is hoping an exhibit of sculptures calling for more monuments dedicated to Native Americans at The National Mall in Washington, D.C., will build community engagement over the issue of Native American representation in American culture.

“We really hope to begin a dialogue, taking this work as a point of departure, with the Native American community,” said Kemper director Sabine Eckman.

Three St. Louis Museums Open Major Exhibitions

May 9, 2014
photo by David Johnson / Organized by the Pulitzer Foundaton for the Arts & the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Updated Monday, May 12 to include the fourth exhibition at CAM.

Three St. Louis institutions are opening major contemporary art exhibitions tonight: the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University.

In the hope that St. Louisans will make it an “art night out,” a free shuttle service between the Kemper and Grand Center is being provided from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

David Johnson | PXSTL

 Think of it as your very own performance and gathering space. A former vacant lot, across the street from the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis’ Grand Center, is booked for more than a dozen events through October. But in between, bring your guitar and your friends for a sing-a-long under its floating canopies. Or relocate your book club there for the summer.

“We want people to just respond to the space in ways we haven’t even imaged yet — and neither have they,” Pulitzer executive Kristina Van Dyke told St. Louis Public Radio.

Courtesy of Tokyo Institute of Technology

The Kemper Art Museum is hosting the very interesting “On the Thresholds of Space-Making: Shinohara Kazuo and His Legacy.” The exhibit, which runs through April 20, includes photos, original drawings and sketches. It is the first U.S. museum exhibit on an architect who helped reinvent architecture in Japan.

Alfredo Jaar, The Geometry of Conscience, 2010. A woman standing before silhouettes of heads.
Kemper Art Museum

An exhibit at Washington University’s Kemper Museum — In the Aftermath of Trauma: Contemporary Video Installations —  introduces painful political conflicts to St. Louis museum goers at oblique angles.

Review: Rashid Johnson's Message at the Kemper

Sep 26, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 26, 2013 - In Message to our Folks at Washington University’s Kemper Museum, Rashid Johnson toys with his affection for the Afrocentrism that shaped his family life throughout the 1980s and ’90s.

(Image courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles) / (Courtesy Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz Collection, Miami. )

Although artist Rashid Johnson explores themes of identity and black history in his work, he does not see the exhibition of his work at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum to be an exploration of the black experience.

What it does show is the breadth of his work during the last fifteen years, in multiple mediums and with multiple layers of meaning.

© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

In early 20th century Paris, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were equally well known after they created the Cubist style of painting.  Today, Picasso is a household name while Braque is virtually unknown outside of art history circles.

Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum puts the spotlight on Braque with the opening of the exhibition ‘Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life, 1928–1945.’ 

Review: Kemper offers important glimpse of inspiration

Oct 5, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 5, 2012 - Every so often an exhibit comes around that presents the spark of an idea, displaying the preliminary thoughts captured when an artist grabs hold of pencil and paper. Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, at Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, does just this.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2012After a dozen or so years of marriage, Virginia Benson’s vibrant husband George started asking strange questions.

“What did we do yesterday? We’re going somewhere today -- do I know the people?” Virginia Benson remembered.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 14, 2012 - When you think about good design, do you imagine a couple of hipsters in oversize glasses and skinny jeans sipping mint-infused, simple-syrup cocktails over a table of reclaimed wood?

An exhibit opening at Washington University’s Kemper Art Museum Friday, Sept. 14 turns that image on its head. In “Design with the Other 90%: CITIES,” the smart sipping involves a wide blue straw and swamp water.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 25, 2012 - Public art defines and dots the St. Louis area.

There’s The Arch, obviously, and “The Way,” Laumeier’s enormous red signature piece. Presiding over downtown’s Citygarden is the headless “Big Suit,” along with “Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels,” otherwise known as “the Pinocchio sculpture.”

Review: Stezaker releases meanings in old images

Feb 19, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2012 - The retrospective of British artist John Stezaker’s work at the Kemper Art Museum is nothing short of marvelous. Since the 1970s, Stezaker has collaged, cut up or otherwise intervened in found photographs — old postcards, Hollywood film stills, old travel brochures and the like. His small scale works subvert the original intentions of the images.

Review: Kemper exhibit comments on instability

Sep 13, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 13, 2011 - The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is currently the place to explore artistic takes on the world -- the contemporary state of the world around us as well as a world that could be.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 21, 2011 - On the occasion of "Equilibrium," the March 2011 Southern Graphics Council International conference hosted by the Sam Fox School at Washington University, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum has staged three outstanding exhibits featuring print media.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2010 - "Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other," now at the Kemper Art Museum, is a terrific mid-career survey of the artist's work organized by the New Museum, New York, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 22, 2010 - Preparing for its major fall season opener, the Rivane Neuenschwander survey, the Kemper Art Museum is playing out the summer with “Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate: Postwar Abstraction from the Permanent Collection.” 

Review: Beauty of labor is in the detail

Feb 19, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2010 - Now at the Kemper Art Museum, two fascinating exhibitions come at the subject of labor from divergent starting points.

Allison Smith’s “Needle Work” includes research the artist has done into masks and face coverings of all kinds — gas masks, veils, fashion facewear and sinister costumes — and her “authentic reproductions” of selected examples. The show foregrounds the labor put into recreating these odd, terrifying things, and showcases them with labels in vitrines that recall anthropological exhibition cases.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2009 - The Kemper Art Museum at Washington University continues to offer some of the most interesting and challenging exhibits in the region, and its current offerings bring added distinction to its reputation.

"Chance Aesthetics" is a stunning historical overview of the enormous role that chance operations have played in avant-garde art throughout the 20th century. Along with the show of the work of Gordon Matta-Clark show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, "Chance Aesthetics" is the exhibit of the year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 30, 2009 - We go to art museums expecting close encounters of the aesthetic kind -- that is, direct, one-on-one experiences with objects made by artists. Architectural exhibits are a horse of a different color. Very few of them can display their ostensible subjects: buildings. (The Guggenheim Museum's retrospective earlier this year of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright within one of his masterpieces, the New York museum itself, represents a notable exception.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2009 - Twentieth century art and design are enjoying well-deserved re-appreciation and critical re-examinations nowadays, and this rekindling of serious interest in work from such a dynamic period in our recent history is gratifying.

The 20th century was, after all, a period of cataclysmic change, characterized both by dizzying innovation and unspeakable horror. In the course of its spooling out, manifestations of all sorts of radical, transformative thinking about design, building, painting, sculpture, music, architecture -- what have you -- gained universal currency and popularity.

Review: Take time for 'Chew the Fat'

May 11, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 11, 2009 - "Rirkrit Tiravanija: Chew the Fat" is an exhibition of film interviews the Thai artist made with some of the most influential figures working in the visual arts today: Angela Bulloch, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Douglas Gordon, Carsten Hoeller, Pierre Huyghe, Jorge Pardo, Philippe Parreno, Elizabeth Peyton, Tobias Rehberger and Andrea Zittel.