A Beautifully Broken Virginia

Come experience a unique photographic journey through the beautifully decaying rural places within our state with which so many Virginians have become fascinated. Photographer John Plashal has commemorated these abandoned gems by capturing their beauty and delivering them to you in a presentation full of powerful imagery and emotional stories. Experience the “unseen” side of…

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From Photographs to Fabric Patterns

Biology, art and activism merge in this presentation.  Dawn Flores, Creative Director for The Forest Project, tells the story of how she collaborated with other artists to document a 60-acre urban forest clear-cut for development.  Dawn has created over 1,000 fabric patterns from photographs she took, of the now clear-cut property, and works with quiltmakers…

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Depictions of the American Landscape

Although activists often pinpoint its genesis in the 1960s, the environmental movement in the United States has roots in 19th-century American landscape painting. Beginning with the Hudson River School, artists, predominately painters, have depicted the environment as an allusion to such disparate ideologies as manifest destiny, environmental concerns, gendered places, or literary devices. Looking at…

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Sally Mann’s Photographs

A nearly lifelong resident of Rockbridge County, Virginia, photographer and writer Sally Mann developed her first photograph in April 1969. During the 1970s, Mann took photographs of women, the Virginia countryside, still lives, and nudes. In 1983, Mann turned her camera almost exclusively to adolescent girls and then began taking photographs of her own children in…

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New Materials, New Message: Glass and Bronze Work

Explore the art of several 20th and 21st century Native American artists who have employed modern technology and materials to create works that are distinctive combinations of new mediums and traditional ideas.  This lecture will review the glass work of Preston Singletary (Tlinglit) and Susan Point (Salish), collaborative works by Chris Tarpley (Choctaw/Chickasaw/Cherokee) and Nathan…

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Gesture: Abstract Expressionists

From brushstrokes to drips and palette knives to spray cans, this lecture explores the role of the artist’s mark in several iconic paintings from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s 20th- and 21st-century collection. While abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, whose bold, energetic, and seemingly messy applications of paint are best…

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Armchair Adventures: Henri Rousseau and His Fantastical Landscapes

Join Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Manager, Statewide Programs and Exhibitions, as he explores the unique life and work of the French artist, Henri Rousseau. The essentially self-taught painter created cityscapes and portraits as well as dream-like exotic jungle scenes without stepping out of the city. During his lifetime his work was ridiculed by…

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The Duchamp Effect: Assemblage, Combines and Collage

Modern art changed forever with the French artist Marcel Duchamp’s submission ofFountain, a literal porcelain urinal, to the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. Inspired by the European Dada movement, Duchamp’s use of play, chance and everyday objects changed art-making in America. We will begin by exploring how Duchamp’s ideas were disseminated through American musician John Cage’s work. Then we will look at how Cagean aesthetics filtered into assemblage, combines and collage works of the 1950’s through 1970’s. We will consider examples from the VMFA’s permanent collection, including those by: Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, John Chamberlain, Richard Stankiewicx, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Wallace Berman, Arman, and Ed Ruscha.

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Audio Visual: Music in Art

Enter the world of music in art! This visual presentation delves into the unique depictions of musicians, instruments, notes and musical ephemera in a variety of works and media. From Picasso’s framed collages to Man Rays iconic photographs, the audio has greatly influenced the visual in 20th century 2-D and 3-D works of art.

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Why is that Art?

Looking at modern art can often be challenging. It always raises questions, even amongst the most knowledgeable viewers: What is an abstract painting “of”? How do you determine if something is “good”? A close look at the history of modern art, dating from roughly 1870 through 1950, demonstrates that the changes that occurred, chiefly that art became more abstract, were not arbitrary but rather developed along deliberate paths. Artists were not working in a vacuum but were responding to changes in technology like the development of photography, cultural moments like the industrial revolution and WWI and WWII, as well as the artists and movements that preceded them. Using works from VMFA’s collection, this chronological telling of important moments in modern art provides the context in which to answer questions like those above.

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