Mennello Museum of American Art and Orlando Museum of Art awarded grant through partnership with Art Bridges to create a first of its kind, dual exhibition featuring the works of Edward Steichen.
Together, the museums were awarded $81,500 in funding and an additional $38,000 in in-kind support by the pioneering foundation, Art Bridges.
EDWARD STEICHEN: IN EXALTATION OF FLOWERS presents paintings and photography from the collections of Art Bridges, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, George Eastman Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view from September 20th 2019 – January 12th, 2020 at the Mennello Museum of American Art in partnership with Orlando Museum of Art. Opening reception will take place at both the Mennello Museum and OMA on Friday, September 20th starting at 5:30pm – shuttles will be provided between museums.
Co-organized by the Mennello Museum of American Art (MMAA) with Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) and in partnership with Art Bridges, a pioneering new foundation dedicated to dramatically expanding access to American art across the country, this exhibit includes 20 photographs and a rare large-scale mural by groundbreaking, turn-of-the-last century artist Edward Steichen.
Through fashion and flowers, Steichen presents portraits of the cultural luminaries of the day: actors, writers, dancers, and singers of the early 1920s in intimate black and white photography and seven stunningly grand, large-scale gold-leaf mural paintings filled with portraits of his friends (the creative icons) and their floral counterparts.
The murals, In Exaltation of Flowers, had not been seen in over 100 years, until Art Bridges purchased them from MoMA, who was gifted the murals from the Meyer family, who commissioned them from Steichen in 1910. Art Bridges supported their conservation at Dallas Art Museum where they were unveiled again in 2018.
Executive Director of the Mennello Museum, Shannon Fitzgerald stated, “I am delighted that this innovative shared exhibition and partnership with collection-rich museums is creating a new standard for museum experimentation and shared resources, and that both our museums are part of this national dialogue moving the dial forward on how museums can truly come together – in this instance, a significant first in the cultural community that I hope will be part of a lasting model in national museum practice, with gratitude to Art Bridges for such leadership.”
This pioneering collaboration between MMAA and OMA is only made possible by Art Bridges’ visionary mission to make collections of American Art more accessible through the forging of collaborations and partnerships with collection-rich museums and our smaller museums in Orlando. Speaking on the collective efforts needed to make this exhibition a reality, Director and CEO of OMA, Glen Gentele, said, “The opportunity for the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) to collaborate with the Mennello Museum of American Art (MMAA) on co-organizing this important exhibition featuring the photography and painting of Edward Steichen, one of the most celebrated artists of the early 20th century, is extraordinary and would not be possible without the support of Art Bridges.”
The exhibition, Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers brings the multi-disciplinary art of Edward Steichen to our communities in Central Florida for the first time, through a tightly-focused consideration of his masterpiece painting, In Exaltation of Flowers (1910-13; Art Bridges Foundation) and related photographs from 1906-1923 handpicked for their close association with the murals. The seven-panel mural will be shown at OMA and twenty photographs from the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, George Eastman Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be presented at the MMAA. The two presentations together explore the important relationship between the artist’s painting and his early photography, and give an in-depth look at the world in which Steichen made his art.
The murals tell the story of philanthropists Agnes Ernst Meyer, Eugene Meyer, Jr. Charles Lang Freer (Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art), the mezzo soprano and dancer Mercedes de Cordoba, the artists Katharine Rhoades and Marion Beckett, and the dancer Isadora Duncan, along with their floral counterparts, inspired in part by the Symbolist writer Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1907 book The Intelligence of Flowers. The photographs feature the same friends along with multiple images of Steichen’s wife, his most beloved muse, Dana Steichen.
Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers shares multiple facets of Steichen’s early work as a photographer and painter while also sharing a symbolic narrative about his circle of friends in both intimate and grand iterations. The exhibition seeks to celebrate Steichen’s genius in both mediums.
Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers is co-curated by Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Mennello Museum and Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, Associate Curator, Orlando Museum of Art.
This exhibition and education programs are made possible with the generous funding support of Art Bridges.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer echoed his support for the project, stating, “As a city, we are grateful for the continued support of Art Bridges, who has already provided the Mennello Museum of American Art with leadership that helped secure the valuable loans from three outstanding museums in our country; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the George Eastman Museum. This partnership not only further distinguishes our museum, but also allows the various audiences of the
Mennello and Orlando Museum of Art to further share in programming and engage more of our community in the vibrant arts and culture offerings of Orlando.”
This is a new program with a new foundation representing the first dual museum project for Art Bridges, that reflects a pioneering national model they are employing with collection-rich museums across the nation.
The leadership of MMAA and OMA have been working with Art Bridges leadership on this project for nearly two years – in a complex development and defining of the program, and it has only been possible because of a true sharing of resources and working across museums and departments. The funding includes support for shipping, crating, museum loans fees, installation materials and labor, education, and marketing that otherwise would have been too cost prohibitive for either museum.
Art Bridges, is a nonprofit founded by Alice Walton in late 2017 and is dedicated to sharing outstanding works of American art. The murals are owned by Art Bridges which maintains a separate collection of art from the Walton-founded Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.
Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers at the Mennello Museum of American Art is also generously supported by the City of Orlando and the Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art. Funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.
Funding for the Orlando Museum of Art is generated through earned income, the Board of Trustees, OMA Ambassadors, Council of 101, Acquisition Trust, Friends of American Art, and contributions from generous individuals, corporations and foundations. Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program, sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the City of Orlando, the Clive Foundation, A Friendsʼ Foundation Trust, Bank of America, the Warren and Augusta Hume Foundation, Rita and Jeffrey Adler Foundation, Walt Disney World Company, the Chesley G. Magruder Foundation, the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation, United Arts of Central Florida with funds from the United Arts Campaign, Williams Family Foundation, Celebrity Cruises, UCF Foundation, Advent Health, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, CNL Charitable Foundation, Hunter Vision, PNC Foundation, Sam Flax Art & Design Supplies, Sun Trust Foundation, and anonymous donors.