UMMA's smaller exhibitions still make a big impact

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

UMMA's Japanese posters

Left: Shigeo Fukuda, Kyogen, 1981, offset print. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, 2017/2.88. © Shigeo Fukuda, 2017. Right: Kazumasa Nagai, Ueno Zoo, 1993, silkscreen. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, 2017/2.71. © Kazumasa Nagai, 2017.

The main draw at the University of Michigan Museum of Art right now is Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection.

And rightfully so since it features little-seen works by two masters. (John Cantu raved about the exhibition in his Pulp review.)

Meanwhile, Aftermath: Landscapes of Devastation is a breathtaking collection of "images of the aftermath of events spanning over 2,000 years of human history -- from ancient Pompeii to September 11, 2001."

But there are several other UMMA displays worth your time, even if there's not enough there there for a full review. 

Here's a look at some of the smaller exhibits currently at UMMA.

UMMA's Japanese & Paul Rand posters

Left: Ikko Tanaka, Nihon Buyo (Japanese traditional dance), 1981, offset print. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, 2017/2.25. © Ikko Tanaka/licensed by DNPartcom, 2017. Right: Paul Rand, EYE–BEE–M (Rebus), 1991, offset lithograph. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo and Maria Phillips, 2016/2.202.

Red Circle: Designing Japan in Contemporary Posters
through May 6
In Focus: Paul Rand
through April 15
Japan's currency and trade surplus were so strong in the 1980s that other countries started to complain. To help change perceptions, Japan hired the artists Ikko Tanaka, Shigeo Fukuda, and Kazumasa Nagai to create posters for cultural festivals, exhibitions, trade fairs, and sporting events to influence perceptions about the country. Paul Rand was also a master of crafting positive identities for large entities. But rather than creating designs for the U.S. government, Rand worked with some of America's largest companies, from ABC and IBM to UPS and Westinghouse. UMMA was gifted a lithograph of Rand's EYE–BEE–M (Rebus), his 1991 promo poster for IBM's THINK campaign.

Tin Noble and Sue Webster's The Masterpiece

Tim Noble and Sue Webster, The Masterpiece, 2014, solid sterling silver, metal stand, light projector. Courtesy the artists and Blain Southern.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster: The Masterpiece
through May 13
British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster have been creating shadow sculptures since the 1980s, and even after three decades of tricks of the eye, their work still surprises. The duo's 2014 creation The Masterpiece casts a shadow self-portrait of the artists -- but the parts that make up the sculpture are metal casts of dead vermin welded together into a horror ball.

Patricia Piccinini's The Comforter

Patricia Piccinini, The Comforter, 2010, silicone, fiberglass, steel, fox fur, human hair, clothing, edition 3 of 3. Courtesy Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco. Photo: David Stroud.

Patricia Piccinini: The Comforter
through April 15
At first glance, Patricia Piccinini's hyperreal sculptures seem to capture everyday moments. But a closer look at the Austrailian artist's works shows mutated creatures that evoke both horror and awe. The Comforter (2010) presents a hairy young girl cuddling what appears to be a hybrid of two babies -- or something. Is one a human? A pig? And what's that udder doing there?


Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.


The University of Michigan Museum of Art, 525 S. State St., Ann Arbor, is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 am–5 pm, Sunday 12–5 pm, and closed Mondays. Visit umma.umich.edu for more information.

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