Friday, August 1, 2008

Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) presents ~ Hail to the Chief: Images of the American Presidency

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) presents an exhibition on our nation’s presidential history through art and artifacts. Featuring paintings, sculpture, prints, photographs, posters, manuscripts, and decorative arts, “Hail to the Chief” represents our country’s presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. This exhibition is organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This exhibition will be on view at the MIA from August 2 through September 21.

“This presidential-themed exhibition is fitting for an historical moment for our state and country,” said Brian Palmer, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. “We want to welcome the thousands of people from around the world who will be here in September for the Republican National Convention—delegates, media, and others--in a way only this museum can offer.”

Envisioned as a non-political, bipartisan exhibition, “Hail to the Chief: Images of the American Presidency” draws from major private collections of American presidential material and the museum’s varied permanent collections. More than seventy objects will bring together the artistic and historical focuses of these collections.

“We applaud the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for embracing its role as one of the region’s most important cultural institutions during a time of historical significance,” said Cynthia Lesher, President of the 2008 Minneapolis-Saint Paul Host Committee for the Republican National Convention. “This will compliment CivicFest as another way to give Minnesotans an opportunity to join in the festivities around the Convention.”

John Frederick Peto (American) Reminiscences of 1865, after 1900, oil on canvas, The Julia B. Bigelow Fund by John Bigelow Highlights from the private collection include an excellent example of the United States President’s flag believed to be from the Kennedy-Johnson administration. Recently restored and mounted, this flag is richly embroidered with the American presidential seal and is trimmed in gold and silver bullion fringe. Also featured will be an assortment of political convention badges from the past 100-plus years, each a work of art in itself. An exceptional example is a gold delegate pin probably dating from the late nineteenth century, in the form of an eagle holding banners reading “Republican National Convention.” This pin was made by prominent silver firm of Mermod, Jaccard and Co. of St. Louis, whose work was featured in the 1893 and 1904 World’s Fairs.

Material from the MIA’s permanent collection includes John Frederick Peto’s Reminiscences of 1865 (after 1900), which features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Others are significant works rarely on view, including Hiram Power’s Bust of George Washington (1853) depicting our first president in Neoclassical drapery. This sculptural portrait graced the interior of the obelisk-shaped Foshay Tower, Minneapolis’s architectural homage to Washington, when the building was finished in 1929.

Showcasing the power of presidential appeal during wartime are a selection of posters from the First and Second World Wars, culled from the museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings. Various photographs, including works by Edward Steichen and Arnold Newman, of modern presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1938) and John F. Kennedy (1953), respectively, show both contemplative and personal sides of our nation’s Commanders-in-Chief.

Curators for this exhibition are Dennis Michael Jon, Acting Co-Curator of Prints and Drawings at the MIA, and Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Associate Curator of Architecture, Design, Decorative Arts, Craft and Sculpture at the MIA.

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