“Spanish Roma Dwelling,” 1912. John Singer Sargent. Addison Gallery of American Art. Courtesy National Gallery of Art.
John Singer Sargent’s decades-long captivation with Spain yielded a remarkable body of work. Over seven extended visits between 1879 and 1912, he depicted stunning landscapes, detailed architectural studies, local peoples and traditions, dynamic scenes of flamenco dance and everyday moments of Spanish Roma life. He also copied paintings (especially by Velázquez) in museums and was intrigued by art in churches, which influenced his expansive murals for the Boston Public Library. “Sargent and Spain” examines, for the first time, how Sargent artistically engaged with the diversity of people and places of that country. Presenting some 140 oils, watercolors, drawings and never-before published photographs — several almost certainly taken by Sargent himself — the exhibition will be a rich encounter with, arguably, the most virtuosic painter in American history.  

Jacob Lawrence and the Children of Hiroshima 

The Phillips Collection  

Through Nov. 27  

“Hiroshima: Boy with Kite,” 1983. Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy Phillips Collection.

“Hiroshima: Boy with Kite,” 1983. Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy Phillips Collection.
This exhibition provides a lens into the lived experience of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima through two unique bodies of work: a series of silkscreen prints by Jacob Lawrence and drawings by students at Hiroshima’s Honkawa Elementary School. In 1983, Lawrence illustrated John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” a vivid account of six survivors of the atomic bomb. His haunting illustrations depict figures with uniform, skull-like heads, cloaked in dissonant shades of pink, red, yellow and blue. Thirty-five years earlier, in 1947, the children of Honkowa sent a portfolio of drawings to the children of All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C., to thank them for supplies they had sent as part of their peace ministry. The Honkowa children’s vibrant scenes of everyday life are an extraordinary testament to their resilience in the aftermath of the bombing, which killed more than 400 students in their school alone. “Jacob Lawrence and the Children of Hiroshima” reveals the human side of warfare, the strength of the spirit and the possibilities of peace and reconciliation.

Feathered Ink 

National Museum of Asian Art  

Through Jan. 29, 2023   

“Auspicious Symbols: Crane, Rising Sun and Peach” (detail), c. 1850. Okamoto Shuki. Courtesy National Museum of Asian Art.

“Auspicious Symbols: Crane, Rising Sun and Peach” (detail), c. 1850. Okamoto Shuki. Courtesy National Museum of Asian Art.
In Japan, paintings of birds and flowers appeared during the 8th to 12th centuries as a popular motif for portraying the seasons and depicting the majesty of the natural world. Opulent arrangements of bird species, vegetation and landscapes also presented perfect opportunities for Japanese artists — with their deep traditions of ink and brush — to showcase their virtuosic brushwork and techniques. Featuring hanging scroll paintings, folding screens, ceramics and printed books, this exhibition explores how Japanese artists experimented over several centuries with depictions of birds and their environs. The colors and contours of feathers, plumage, flowers and foliage mingle throughout the show in a kaleidoscope of natural wonder.  

Maya Lin working on Civil Rights Memorial, 1989. Photo by Adam Stoltman. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery.
“One Life: Maya Lin” is the first biographical exhibition of the architect, sculptor and environmentalist who catapulted to global prominence at age 21 with her controversial-at-the-time design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. Lin, who has spent more than four decades making work that centers on history and human rights, describes her practice as “a systematic ordering of the land that is tied to history, time and language.” The exhibition traces Lin’s life from her childhood to today through a range of photographs, sculptures, personal ephemera, sketchbooks, architectural models and images of her completed works. An element of Lin’s project “What Is Missing?” — which invites viewers to share memories of natural elements that have vanished during their lifetimes — will also be on view.  
 

John Akomfrah: Purple 

Hirshhorn Museum  

Oct. 28, 2022 – Summer 2023  

Still from “Purple,” 2017. John Akomfrah. Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum.

Still from “Purple,” 2017. John Akomfrah. Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum.
An enveloping, hour-long symphony of image and sound, “Purple” — a major video work by London artist John Akomfrah — weaves together original film with archival footage against a hypnotic score, surveying a variety of disappearing landscapes, including parts of Alaska, Greenland, the Tahitian Peninsula and the South Pacific’s volcanic Marquesas Islands. Akomfrah’s striking images mingle with historical recordings of coal mines, polluted lakes and factory labor, set against a resonant soundtrack of original music, archival recordings and spoken word. The video will play across six large screens arranged in an arc, mirroring the Hirshhorn’s curved architecture. Carpet in a deep shade of purple — the color of mourning in Ghana, Akomfrah’s country of origin — will blanket the floors and walls, reminding viewers of the losses brought about by environmental devastation. In Akomfrah words: “I think there is a special significance of the Hirshhorn’s proximity to the major center of power on our planet — the spaces in which key decisions need to be made in environmental policy in the United States — and I hope the questions that ‘Purple’ raises about the environmental crisis we are living through today are ones that can be understood and appreciated by all without partisanship.”  
 

More Clay: The Power of Repetition 

American University Museum at the Katzen Center  

Through Dec. 11  

“Orange Ring,” 2022. Bean Finneran. Photo by RR Jones. Courtesy AU Museum.

“Orange Ring,” 2022. Bean Finneran. Photo by RR Jones. Courtesy AU Museum.
Curated by Rebecca Cross of Cross MacKenzie Gallery — a longtime fixture of the Georgetown community — “More Clay” features eight artists building powerful ceramic sculptures using innovative feats of construction, transcending the structural limitations of clay and abandoning the material’s traditional association with function. The exhibition features a handful of the artists that Cross represented at her Wisconsin Avenue and Cady’s Alley gallery locations, such as Walter McConnell and Bean Finneran. 
 

Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition 

National Building Museum  

Through Oct. 9  

Rose window projection from “Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition.” Courtesy National Building Museum.

Rose window projection from “Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition.” Courtesy National Building Museum.
See it before it’s gone! Visually stunning, “Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition” is an augmented reality immersion into the history and restoration of the revered cathedral. Visitors can relive the cathedral’s extraordinary saga, from its medieval construction through key historical events — such as the coronation of Napoleon and the marriage of Henri IV — up to the ongoing reconstruction following the 2019 fire. The exhibition features previously unpublished giant photographs of the cathedral, 3D models of a gargoyle and a cathedral statue, faux stone tile flooring and stained-glass windows replicating the cathedral’s décor, including a projection of the rose window that miraculously survived the fire, along with audio of Notre-Dame’s organs and tolling bells.  
 

Also of note and currently on view …  

Grace of Monaco: Princess in Dior 
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens  
Through Jan. 8, 2023  
 
Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience 
National Geographic Museum  
Through Feb. 6, 2023  

Fall openings and reopenings…

The Peacock Room, a London dining room designed and decorated by James McNeill Whistler, reopened at the National Museum of Asian Art on Sept. 3 after a major conservation project. The new ceramics display suggests how the room looked when it was part of Charles Lang Freer’s Detroit mansion, prior to its 1923 relocation to Washington, D.C., to become part of the Freer Gallery of Art (now the NMAA).   

The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery of the National Museum of Asian Art on the National Mall. Wikipedia.

The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery of the National Museum of Asian Art on the National Mall. Wikipedia.
The first eight galleries of the transformed National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall will reopen on Oct. 14 with free timed-entry passes. Additional galleries will reopen in phases.  
The Rubell Museum DC, located at 65 Eye St. SW in the former Randall School, will open on Oct. 29 with the exhibition “What’s Going On.” Referencing the seminal 1971 album by Marvin Gaye, who graduated from Randall Junior High in 1954, the exhibition will feature nearly 200 contemporary works from the collection of Don and Mera Rubell by artists including Maurizio Cattelan, Richard Prince, Hank Willis Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems.  

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