- 'LUCKY STRIKE': Stuart Davis' 1924 oil on paperboard, from the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution.
Art lovers will get to swing in Bentonville and take a seat in Little Rock, thanks to major exhibitions that celebrate jazz-inspired art and art-inspired seating this fall.
"Stuart Davis: In Full Swing," which opens Saturday, Sept. 16, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, features more than 80 works by the proto-pop artist who rose to fame in the early decades of the 20th century with his geometric takeoffs on advertising and his Cubist-inspired abstraction. The jazz-loving Davis (1892-1964) sought to make his work convey the modern American spirit in the same way that jazz does, and while he appropriated a bit of French cubist George Braque (see "Lucky Strike," 1924, which features a pack of cigarettes against a newspaper) thanks to time he spent in France, he surely influenced the pop of uber-American masters Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol with his later work (see "Owh! In San Pao," 1951), which bounced flat shapes of intense pure color and words off one another. Prepare for the full swing of vibrant color and hard edges.
The exhibition opens with a lecture by Harry Cooper, senior curator of modern art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which organized the show with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Cooper will talk about Davis' development of style at 7 p.m. Friday night, the evening before the public opening; admission is free. The exhibition runs through Jan. 1. Also on exhibit through October: "Animal Meet Human," 16 works of animal imagery from the collection. "Not to Scale," drawings, models and sketches of Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome on the grounds, is up through March 2018.
In Little Rock, the Arkansas Arts Center is showing "The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design" starting Sept. 29. The show, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Fla., is the "first comprehensive survey of American chair design," a press release says. It traces the evolution of American design with 43 chairs crafted between 1810 to 2010 from the collection of Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Foundation. The chairs reflect their makers' aesthetic as well as the status of the folks they'd seat, from the simple Shaker rocking chair (c. 1840) from New Lebanon, N.Y., to the elaborately carved "Slipper Chair" (c. 1860) by John Henry Belter, which incorporates carved grapes and oak leaves. A Charles and Ray Eames lounge chair (c. 1945) in wood, proclaimed by Time Magazine as the "Chair of the Century," is matched in its sleek and sinuous design by Vivian Beer's handmade steel "Current" (2004), which the Penland designer said she wanted to feel "fast and clean as water."
Other designers whose names visitors will recognize include Sam Maloof, also of wooden rocker fame; the Stickley Brothers; Frank Lloyd Wright; Isamu Noguchi; and Frank Gehry.
On Sept. 28, Diane Jacobsen will give a lecture on the historical, social, economic, political and cultural context in which the chairs were created. The talk will be at 6 p.m., after a 5:30 p.m. wine reception; it's free for Arts Center members and $15 for nonmembers. After the talk, there will be a members' reception and preview of the exhibition in the gallery. The Arts Center has scheduled several related events: Furniture designer Mark Goetz will give the Architecture and Design Network's Art of Architecture talk at 6 p.m. Oct. 3; families will design their "dream chairs" at a Free Family Funday event from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 8; and furniture design students from UA Little Rock will give a gallery talk at noon Nov. 10.
Also in Little Rock: The Clinton Presidential Center is showing "Art of Africa: One Continent, Limitless Vision," artworks, including textiles, wood carvings, paintings and jewelry from the personal collection of President Bill Clinton and from the gifts given the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and owned by the National Archives. The items include a Philippe scarab in gold and copper, a photographic portrait of Nelson Mandela and other photographs, batik and kente fabrics and other works.