last days at the corcoran

Saturday, June 28:  The news about the Corcoran Gallery of Art‘s proposed collaboration with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University seems to mean the demise of the Corcoran as we know it.  According to a New York Times article, the Gallery was “facing mounting debts, a shrinking endowment and tens of millions of dollars in renovations”: The Corcoran Gallery of Art May Cede Control of Its Collection.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art
The Corcoran Gallery of Art

In a February 19 article in The Washington Post, Phil Kennicott says: After decades of erratic and often incompetent leadership, {the Corcoran’s board} has seen the institution through to its demise. They will hand over the art to the National Gallery, which will take the pick of the lot and then distribute the rest through some program yet to be announced. A small “legacy” gallery featuring beloved works closely associated with the soon-to-be-defunct Corcoran brand will be maintained somewhere in the old building, which will be given to George Washington University. GWU will absorb the college and teaching functions. As a legal entity, the Corcoran will continue, although this will consist primarily of an advisory board and a name on the wall of the museum building on 17th Street NW.

Stained glass and reflection
Stained glass and reflection

For more details about the demise of the Corcoran, please see the Post article: The end of the Corcoran.

Since the gallery portion of the Corcoran will only be open until October 1, 2014, and since the Corcoran is offering free admission during Saturdays through the summer, I decide to visit the venerable art gallery one last time.  I’ve been to the gallery numerous times over the years, and was even inspired by a photography exhibit here to write a short story: The Red Star Sky.

According to a Washington Post article, The Corcoran Gallery’s Hidden Gems: In the center of the museum’s Salon Doré, a gilded 1770 French drawing-room designed by Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin, is a contemporary work the museum acquired specifically to display in this spot. Yinka Shonibare’s “Girl on Globe 2” is a politically charged sculpture of a headless African girl wearing a Victorian costume of Dutch wax fabric, which was manufactured in the Netherlands but intended for a colonial market. She is balanced on a globe that maps the effects of global warming.

Girl on Globe 2 by Yinka Shonibare
Girl on Globe 2 by Yinka Shonibare

According to the Arts Observer: “Girl on Globe 2″ by Yinka Shonibare is rife with symbolism. According to the museum, “Fascinated by the culture of 18th century Europe and its aristocrats, Shonibare intends for his headless figures to evoke the beheading of the French aristocracy during the Revolution of 1789-99, as well as to serve as a reminder of our own capacity for mindlessness in contemporary life.”

Girl on Globe 2
Girl on Globe 2

One exhibit is American Journey – Visions of Place.  This is a new installation of the Corcoran’s pre-1945 American paintings and sculptures that conveys the changing notion of place in the history of American art.

A sculpture on the Corcoran’s second floor announces the metal exhibit.

On the 2nd floor of the Corcoran
On the 2nd floor of the Corcoran

Another extensive exhibit here today is titled American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley. Spanning Paley’s 50-year career, the exhibition traces his work as a jeweler and progresses through his recent large-scale sculptural projects to reveal the artist’s unique place in American art.

Finally, the statue of Venus is surrounded by a 360 degree light show.

Venus in string lights
Venus in string lights

I’m sad to see the closing of a great art gallery in Washington.  It seems that bookstores and art galleries are toppling around us.  I can’t help but wonder what will be left in the future.  Will we all sit around staring mindlessly at our computers and phones, withdrawing increasingly from face-to-face and real life interaction?

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11 thoughts on “last days at the corcoran

  1. Lovely to visit it with you Cathy – you picked out some very interesting objects to share with us. I particularly liked the metal animal sculptures and the Girl on a Globe.

  2. Like others, the metal sculpture and girl on a globe stand out. The Corcoran represents an on going trend affecting the arts which will limit one’s ability to see good art. So sad.

  3. Such interesting exhibits and a good looking building, Cathy! What a shame 😦
    I’ll have to come back to read your story later. Run! Run! Run! Someday I’ll catch up 🙂

    1. I know what you mean, Jo, about always being behind. I can’t wait till my life settles back into some kind of routine so I can keep up with my blogging friends, among other things. 🙂

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