Art of Devotion - 1300 – 1800
From the Early Medieval era to the Renaissance and Baroque eras, a large part of artistic production in Europe was in the service of the Roman Catholic Church. Religious institutions commissioned artists and architects to build and decorate places of worship, from cathedrals to monasteries and hospitals. Monarchs and wealthy nobility also employed artists to paint devotional works for domestic settings and design altarpieces for family chapels at parish churches. Devotional images could be intensely personal, like Federico Barocci’s Madonna or Pieter Claeissens’s Virgin of Sorrows with a Family of Donors.
The emergence of the Protestant Reformation, and the subsequent Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church, proved the most momentous turn of events for the development of religious art in Europe and the Americas. The Council of Trent put the Church’s unified strategy into writing in 1563 to stem the flow of worshippers (and entire nations) to Protestantism. The Council stated that the visual arts should educated through narrative clarity, engage the viewer emotionally, and delight the sense to inspire devotion.
Art of East Asia
Art of East Asia vividly animates the philosophical and creative traditions that inspired Asian luminaries and everyday people throughout China, Japan, and Korea. This story begins with a section devoted to Chinese tomb art and develops through Buddhist icons, Daoist visions in the setting of a formal Chinese reception hall, the mixture of Buddhist, Daoist, and Shinto domestic piety embodied by the objects of a Japanese living space, and a much-anticipated display of arts of Korea. Throughout the galleries, hands-on elements offer visitors chances to interact with East Asian art in an uncommonly tactile way. Occupying the space once known as the Asian Court, these galleries have been extensively renovated thanks in part to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Reclaimed teak floors, atmospheric exhibition design, and state-of-the-art lighting all come together to create a unified and powerful environment for these exceptional arts.
Art of the Open Air
Art of the Open Air is an eye-opening source of creative inspiration, showcasing the Museum’s internationally significant sculpture collection in the Plaza de Panama. Visitors will see the plaza gleam with sculptures in bronze, painted fiberglass, and aluminum by great artists including Joan Miró, Auguste Rodin, and Tony Rosenthal. In addition, a work by Alexander Calder will be joining the Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth sculptures in the Museum’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden. Art of the Open Air allows the Museum to offer free access to public art, every day of the week, all year long. Visitors to Balboa Park will find a new experience with every visit, exploring the sculptures from every angle in changing light and seasons. As Henry Moore famously stated, “Sculpture is like a journey—you have a different view as you return.”
Arts of Iran
The modern-day country of Iran, known in ancient times as Persia, has a history of civilization dating back approximately ten thousand years.The first few millennia of its development witnessed the rise of impressive cities such as Susa, Persepolis, and Ctesiphon, from which ruled such fabled monarchs as Cyrus the Great (r. ca. 559–530 BC). At this time the population primarily followed the Zoroastrian religion, and they spoke an ancient form of the Persian language written in cuneiform, and later in the Pahlavi script.
When the religion of Islam took hold in the seventh century, more layers of cultural complexity were added to the region, and new kinds of political ties were fostered with neighboring lands. At times, connections to the Middle East were strong—for instance when Iran was part of the Abbasid Empire (750–1258), a vast entity stretching from North Africa to Central Asia with a capital in Baghdad, Iraq. At other times, such as during the Safavid era (1501–1722), Iran had closer diplomatic and economic ties to Afghanistan and India. Artists and works of art traveled between these areas and certain commonalities can be found in the types of art produced, especially in ceramics, paintings, and Persian-language calligraphy, now written using the Arabic alphabet.
Nick Roth: Fates
Multimedia artist Nick Roth’s installation Fates is a three-panel animation that draws upon classical mythology to represent the tumult of human life and the struggle to come to terms with mortality. Rendered in a semi-abstract, semi-figurative style, the three Fates—Clotho (“the spinner”), Lachesis (“the allotter”), and Atropos (“the unturnable”)—appear, dissolve, and reconstitute themselves as the ten-minute animation unfolds.
Nick Roth began working on multimedia installations in fine arts museums in 2003 with the artist Matthew Ritchie, whose video work was part of the Museum’s 2015 exhibition The Art of Music. Roth has since worked with Ritchie and other artists at a number of institutions including the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.