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Art & Museums
MFA highlights impressive acquisitions
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At the Grand Prix - Paris (1907) Photogravure by Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973); gift of Larry J. West
ST. PETERSBURG - Recent Acquisitions: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs features more than 40 works and offers a select view of the sweep and diversity of the Museum of Fine Arts’ rapidly growing collection.

Since the Hazel Hough Wing opened in 2008, the collection has grown by more than 1,100 works. In addition, the MFA has received approximately 15,000 photographs from The Ludmila Dandrew and Chitranee Drapkin Collection.

Full of surprises, Recent Acquisitions is on display through Sunday, March 2, 2014 in the second-floor Works on Paper Gallery. The works have been selected by Hazel and William Hough Chief Curator Jennifer Hardin. The Stuart Society provides major support for Museum exhibitions and educational programs, and the Tampa Bay Times is the Media Sponsor.

The earliest works are fascinating prints by Wenceslaus Hollar after Hans Holbein from The Dance of Death series (1651). The most recent is Tampa artist Rebecca Sexton Larson’s large-scale Random Conversations (2011), which brings together photography, painting, and even thread, sewing together thoughts, observations, and memories.

The drawings and prints are by many other significant artists, including Jennifer Bartlett, Leonard Baskin, Jeffrey Kronsnoble, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Milton Resnick, Georges Rouault, and Ossip Zadkine. There is also a lyrical painting, Toulouse Lautrec’s Nephew (1956), by Elaine de Kooning.

Jennifer Bartlett is a gifted contemporary artist whose work combines representation and abstraction. Her powerful etching The Elements: Earth (1992) evokes both the beauty of nature and mortality. The branches and markings create tension and ultimately, a sense of unity.

Milton Resnick’s untitled print with his all-over approach reveals his commitment to Abstract Expressionism. Jeffrey Krosnoble’s brilliant, collage-like Savigny III (1971) has a Pop sensibility, but with an element of foreboding. Geometric sculptural forms move through the center of Barbara Hepworth’s Fragment (1970). The British modernist is especially known for her sculpture.

A number of the works are by or depict African Americans. They complement the exhibition, Mixing Metaphors: The Aesthetic, the Social, and the Political in African American Art, Works from the Bank of America Collection.

Jason Hailey conveys the intellectual intensity of Alex Haley, the author of Roots, in his 1977 photograph. Charles W. White, one of our most accomplished African American and Social Realist artists, explored the expressiveness of the color black in his work, as well as black culture. His Hasty B, a profile of an African American woman, would be at home in one of his noted murals.

George R. Booth spotlights the stunning performer Eartha Kitt, with three African American male singers, in his memorable photograph from the late 1960s. In addition, New Orleans artist George Dureau, who influenced Robert Mapplethorpe, presents a young, handsome African American man, almost like a piece of sculpture, against a spare backdrop.

The MFA has one of the leading photography collections in the Southeast, and this exhibition reflects its scope. The works encompass documentary nineteenth-century photographs of Asian men; a signature image by Edward Steichen of fashionable people arriving for the Grand Prix in 1907 Paris; and a self-portrait of the pioneering Margaret Bourke White with her large-format camera and battered case. Ben Shahn’s Spectators at County Fair, Ohio (1938) is pure Americana.

A photographer whose reputation continues to grow, Ralph Eugene Meatyard staged surrealistic, mysterious scenes, often with young children wearing fantastic masks. The rising young star Shen Wei, born in Shanghai and now living in New York, is represented by the haunting Matt and Emily from his Almost Naked series (2003), an intimate look at a young, seemingly distant couple.

Recent Acquisitions is a treasure trove of works, many on view for the first time. They will encourage visitors to discover other gems in the recently renovated galleries. The MFA and its stellar collection have never looked better.

The MFA at 255 Beach Drive N.E. has a world-class collection, with works by Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Morisot, Cézanne, Rodin, O’Keeffe, and many others. Also displayed are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art. The photography collection is one of the most significant in the Southeast. The galleries, The Junior League Great Hall, and the Marly Room in the original building have just been renovated, completely transforming the experience of the art on view.

The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, until 8 p.m. on Thursday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is only “5 after 5” on Thursday. Regular admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those 65 and older, and $10 for students seven and older, including college students with current I.D. Children under seven and Museum members are admitted free. Groups of 10 or more adults pay only $12 per person and children $4 each with prior reservations.

For more information, call 727-896-2667 or visit www.fine-arts.org.
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