So Much For Art Lovers in Philadelphia in 2019

PHILADELPHIA, January 8, 2019 - Philadelphia’s celebrated history of dynamic artistic expression shines in a fascinating breadth of art exhibitions in 2019. The lineup features a diverse range of artists and media exploring personal stories and issues of the day.




Major museum shows include the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s multimedia impressionist works in The Impressionist’s Eye. The Barnes Foundation hosts a body of work by contemporary video artist Bill Viola, and the Brandywine River Museum looks at the varied work by N.C. Wyeth in New Perspectives.


Smaller yet just-as-mighty exhibits represent provocative, beautiful work by artists from minority communities. These include a year-long, three-part artistic examination of the legacy of slavery with Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts and Banal Presents at the Institute of Contemporary Art; a retrospective of artist David Lebe, known for his homoerotic photographs, in Long Light: Photographs by David Lebe at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and an exhibit from contemporary artists Sonya Clark and Jacolby Satterwhite that challenges traditional assumptions at The Fabric Workshop and Museum.


Here’s a look at what art fans can look forward to in the year ahead:


Philadelphia Museum of Art, philamuseum.org


• Re-opening of the Galleries of Chinese Art – In tandem with architect Frank Gehry’s overall plan for the museum, the renovation and reinstallation of the Chinese art collection debuts early in 2019. The collection spans 4,000 years and consists of more than 7,000 pieces, including 500 paintings dating from the 12th to the 20th century, plus costumes, textiles, furniture, jades, lacquer wares, cloisonné and contemporary works. February 3, 2019

• The Impressionist’s Eye – The museum’s collection of work in a rich variety of media by esteemed impressionist painters shows the artists’ versatility. Paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculptures by Manet, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Renoir, Morisot, Cassatt, Seurat, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Rodin comprise the exhibit of approximately 70 works. April 16-August 18, 2019

• Yoshitoshi: Spirit and Spectacle – Honouring Japanese master printmaker Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), this exhibit showcases highlights from more than 1,200 prints. Yoshitoshi’s work reflects cultural traditions and the upheavals of the modern world that followed Japan’s opening to the West after 200 years of isolation. The exhibit includes selections from the artist’s final project and his best-known series, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 1885-1992. April 16-August 18, 2019


Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, philamuseum.org


• Long Light: Photographs by David Lebe ¬– David Lebe’s first retrospective features powerful work from his 1994 documentation of his and his partner’s daily struggles with AIDS, images from late-1960s anti-war marches and The Great March on Washington in 1987 for lesbian and gay rights. Born in Manhattan in 1948, the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts)-trained photographer is known for the homoerotic themes in his work that present and examine gay life. February 9-May 5, 2019

• Souls Grown Deep – Works by luminaries Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Hawkins Bolden and Bessie Harvey are part of this exhibit featuring 24 acquisitions from Atlanta’s Souls Grown Deep Foundation. With a focus on art-making with found objects and everyday materials, the artists’ works range in size from modest wall pieces to sculptures more than 12 feet wide. Displaying alongside them: 15 exquisitely made quilts by women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. June 8-September 2, 2019

• Collage and Assemblage from the Collection – Complementing Souls Grown Deep are select examples from the museum’s collection of early- to mid-20th-century Modernist and contemporary art. June 8-September 2, 2019


Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), icaphila.org


• Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts and Banal Presents – A three-part exhibit examines the everyday ways that slavery and colonialism continue to leave marks on American culture. The exhibit’s consecutive shows include Mundane Futures (February 1-March 31), featuring work by contemporary artists Martine Syms, Kevin Jerome Everson, Aria Dean and Dave McKenzie. The second, Quotidian Pasts (April 26-August 11), examines the complexities of collecting and displaying African objects, with artifacts from the Penn Museum displayed alongside new work by Matthew Angelo Harrison. The final installment, Banal Presents (September 13-December 22), features new and recent work by Sable Elyse Smith, Cameron Rowland and Carolyn Lazard. February 1-December 22, 2019

• Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen – The first major solo exhibition of this Chilean-born poet, artist, filmmaker and human rights activist boldly tackles social and political issues. Vicuña’s work flows from concept and craft, text and textile to address economic and environmental disparities and the reclamation of her ancestral traditions. February 1-March 31, 2019

• Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective – This exhibit presents the first large-scale survey of an avant-garde artist whose 1960s groundbreaking work in film and Minimalist music challenged barriers between mediums. A sensory experience that invokes the spirit of Conrad’s participatory and performative approach, this exhibit is a showcase for his far-flung interests in sculpture, painting, film, video and installation. February 1-August 11, 2019


Barnes Foundation, barnesfoundation.org


• Pat Steir Silent Secret Waterfalls: The Barnes Series – In the first installation of paintings on view in the Annenberg Court, the Barnes Foundation presents 11 seven-foot-tall oil paintings by American artist Pat Steir. The works reference the artist’s lauded Abstract-dripped Waterfall series that she began creating in the 1980s. January 12-November 17, 2019

• From Today, Painting Is Dead: Early Photography in France and Britain – Exploring the fertile period in the early history of photography when the medium’s pioneers adapted and transformed this rich and complex medium, the Barnes’s second survey of photography presents nearly 250 early photographs—most of which have never before been exhibited—created by British and French photographers between the 1840s and 1880s. February 24-May 12, 2019

• I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola – This exhibition brings together a selection of major works reflecting on the history of painting by renowned video artist Bill Viola, including screen-based works and large scale installations. June 30-September 15, 2019

• 30 Americans – This exhibit showcases painting, sculpture and photos by influential African-American artists of the past three decades. October 27, 2019-January 12, 2020


Fabric Workshop and Museum, fabricworkshopandmuseum.org:


• Sonya Clark (exhibit name TBA) – The Virginia-based textile and performance artist presents work that weaves together her interests in symbols, history, race and identity. Clark’s previous performance art includes Unravelling and Unravelled, in which she meticulously unravelled the threads of a Confederate flag. March 29-August 4, 2019

• Jacolby Satterwhite (exhibit name TBA) – A multidisciplinary artist embraces the role of provocateur with performance, music and animation. As a queer African-American man, Satterwhite addresses issues that impact his personal experience and explores issues of nostalgia, family and music. September 13, 2019-January 19, 2020


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), pafa.org


• Zanele Muholi & The Women’s Mobile Museum – Acclaimed photographer Zanele Muholi and the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center worked with 10 women in a yearlong paid apprenticeship to create this photographic exhibition that addresses questions such as “Whose portraits are shown in museums?” and “Who is art for?” December 22, 2018-March 31, 2019

• Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde – Appearing at four venues—PAFA, the University of Arts, the Philadelphia Art Alliance and Gershman Hall—this exhibition explores Philadelphia from 1956 to 1976, when the city was a hotbed of Pop Art, architectural and urban-planning innovation and post-war art school expansion. On display: photographs, paintings, films, posters by Ree Morton, Jody Pinto and Hannah Wilkie, along with achievements by architect Denise Scott Brown. March 18-June 28, 2019

• From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic –A scenic tour of the local landscape as captured by Philadelphia painters from the Early American Republic to the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, this exhibit shows how Philadelphia-area artists influenced the Hudson River School. This is the first major exhibit to look at Philadelphia’s role in the development of American landscape painting. June 29-December 29, 2019


Woodmere Art Museum, woodmereartmuseum.org


• Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney – This exhibition of works by Germantown-born illustrator (and Caldecott winner) Jerry Pickney reflects his focus on issues surrounding African-Americans and includes his powerful illustrations for historian Charles L. Blockson’s article, “Escape from Slavery: The Underground Railroad,” which appeared in National Geographic, and watercolours for The Old African, a book Pinkney considers one of his most important accomplishments. February 16-May 12, 2019

• Our Town: A Retrospective of Edith Neff – This Philadelphia artist and leading realist painter used Philadelphia, her friends, neighbours and students (she taught at PAFA until her death) as subjects in work. Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art have acquired some Neff pieces, Our Town will be the first large-scale exhibition of her work in more than two decades. April 13-October 27, 2019


Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, phillymagicgardens.org


• Patterned Paintings by Claes Gabriel and Andrew Chalfen – Two artists present work marked by an ornate expression of design, layering and color play. While Gabriel’s works incorporate Haitian culture with color, folklore and fantasy, Chalfen’s reference cartography, fractal blooms and other complex patterns. March 1-April 28, 2019

• Paintings by Isaiah Zagar – Though more well-known for his mosaics, Zagar is also a painter with an extensive portfolio that informs his work in 3-D. May 3-July 7, 2019

• Stained Glass Works by Justin Tyner – Tyner’s work mixes salvaged and repurposed glass to manipulate light in his distinctive psychedelic style. July 12-September 8, 2019

• Collaborative Works by Martha Clippinger – In this exhibit comprising tapetes (rugs), ceramics, repurposed wood and hand-woven textiles, Clippinger explores artistic collaboration’s potential to break down conceptual barriers between craft and fine art. The tapetes are the centerpiece of the exhibition and were made in collaboration with weavers from Oaxaca, Mexico. September 13-November 10, 2019


Eastern State Penitentiary, easternstate.org


• Hidden Lives, Illuminated – Twenty commissioned, animated short films by artists living or working in prisons look inside the daily life of America’s correctional system. Each film is projected onto Eastern State’s facade and is accompanied by a customized soundtrack. Discussions about criminal justice issues accompany the films. August 17-September 14, 2019


Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, muttermuseum.org


• Bones, Books & Bell Jars – Photographer and physician Andrea Baldeck went behind the scenes and explored the museum’s collection, then selected items and combined them for her still life photographs. As presented in this exhibition, her images capture the fascinating beauty of some of the Mütter’s medical objects. Through May 2019

• Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia – The Mütter opens its most ambitious exhibition to date in a multi-disciplinary recounting of a global pandemic that took thousands of local lives in two years. History, art, science and contemporary issues offer a unique view into the terrifying time. Included in the exhibition is a work by the artist group Blast Theory and digital interactives that allow visitors to explore data from more than 20,000 death certificates from Philadelphia neighbourhoods. October 17, 2019-August 5, 2024


Independence Seaport Museum, phillyseaport.org


• O.T.W. — On the Water: The Schuylkill River – Work by contemporary artists James Lancel McElhinney, Patrick Connors, Tom Judd, Deirdre Murphy, Stacy Levy, Jacob Rivkin and Joseph Sweeney address the Schuylkill as a nexus of American art, science, literature and commerce. Historic images are also included in the exhibition. Through September 2019


Brandywine River Museum of Art, brandywine.org


• American Beauty: Selections From the Richard M. Scaife Bequest – The Brandywine River Museum of Art and The Westmoreland Museum of American Art present 50 paintings from the bequest of their late, longtime trustee, Richard M. Scaife. Featured are 19th– and 20th-century American masterworks by Martin Johnson Heade, John Frederick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, George Inness, William Merritt Chase and Guy Pene du Bois. March 9-May 27, 2019

• C. Wyeth: New Perspectives – This exhibit takes a comprehensive look into the oeuvre of this master 20th-century illustrator. Though better known for his work illustrating classics such as Treasure Island and The Boy’s King Arthur, Wyeth had artistic output that went well beyond, with landscapes, portraits, murals, and still lifes. The exhibit will include about 70 paintings and drawings that reveal a fuller picture of this American icon. June 22-September 15, 2019


Michener Art Museum, michenerartmuseum.org


• The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design – More than 40 chairs chosen for their significance tell the story of American aesthetics from the early 19th century to the present. Designers include John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, Herter Brothers, Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Gehry, among others. February 9-May 5, 2019

• Nakashima Looks: Studio Furniture from the Permanent Collection – Artist Mira Nakashima, daughter of acclaimed woodworker George Nakashima, guest curates an exhibit that showcases some of the stunning work in the museum’s collection by both father and daughter. March 2-June 9, 2019

• The Color of the Moon: Lunar Painting in American Art – More than 50 works of art depict the moon and reveal its prominence in American landscape painting in this unusually themed exhibit. Highlights include work by Thomas Cole, the father of the Hudson River School, and illustrations by Norman Rockwell. June 1-September 8, 2019



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