Press release: Museum announces 2017 exhibitions

By | December 7, 2016

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 7, 2016—The Saint Louis Art Museum’s 2017 schedule of ticketed exhibitions include Impressionist depictions of hats and hat making, the evolution of men’s fashion and the photography of German artist Thomas Struth. In addition, free exhibitions throughout the year will celebrate a major gift of old master sculptures and prints, explore the history of modern Japanese printmaking, and include new work by contemporary artists.

The exhibition season opens in February with a groundbreaking exploration of Edgar Degas’s fascination with high-fashion hats and the young women who made them. Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade will feature an array of period hats and 60 paintings and pastels, including key works by Degas that have never been exhibited in the United States.

Main exhibitions

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade (Feb. 12 through May 7, 2017)

Degas’ fascination inspired a visually compelling and profoundly modern body of work that documents the lives of what one fashion writer of the day called “the aristocracy of the workwomen of Paris, the most elegant and distinguished.” Yet despite the importance of millinery within Degas’s oeuvre, there has been little discussion of its place in Impressionist iconography.

The Saint Louis Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will bring new light to the subject with the groundbreaking exhibition Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade. In addition to works by Degas, the exhibition explores his influence by including millinery-related works by his peers—including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—as well as 40 exquisite examples of period hats.

“This groundbreaking exhibition will provide a stunning experience for visitors while advancing scholarship of a little known but important part of Degas’ legacy,” said Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade will complement Impressionist works in our permanent collection, while giving proper context to Degas’ The Milliners, which the Saint Louis Art Museum acquired in 2007.”

The exhibition will be the first to examine the height of the millinery trade in Paris, from around 1875 to 1914, as reflected in the work of the Impressionists. At this time there were around 1,000 milliners working in what was then considered the fashion capital of the world. The exhibition will open at the Saint Louis Art Museum on Feb. 12, 2017 and at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor on June 24, 2017.

The exhibition is curated by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Saint Louis Art Museum and Esther Bell, curator in charge of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 (June 25 through Sept. 17)

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 opens in June. The exhibition, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, explores the history of men’s fashionable dress from the 18th century to the present and re-examines the equation of fashion with femininity.

Drawing primarily from LACMA’s renowned collection, Reigning Men makes illuminating connections between history and high fashion. The exhibition traces cultural influences over the centuries, examines how elements of the uniform have profoundly shaped fashionable dress, and reveals how cinching and padding the body was, and is, not exclusive to womenswear. The exhibition features more than 100 looks, and celebrates a rich history of restraint and resplendence in menswear.

The St. Louis presentation of Reigning Men is curated by Zoe A. Perkins, textile conservator, and Genevieve Cortinovis, assistant curator.

Thomas Struth: Nature and Politics (Nov. 5 through Jan. 21, 2018)

In October, museum visitors will experience Thomas Struth: Nature and Politics, a photographic exploration of cutting-edge industrial and scientific research spaces featuring 35 large-scale works created within the past decade.

With monumental scale and vivid color, Struth investigates the fascinating complexities of sites where human knowledge, ambition, and imagination are advanced. The celebrated German artist takes viewers into spaces normally kept from public view, such as aeronautical centers, robotics laboratories and nuclear fission facilities. Thomas Struth: Nature and Politics intersperses Struth’s technological subjects with other recent work, including images of the fantasy environments of Disneyland and the war-torn landscapes of Israel’s West Bank.

This touring exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta in cooperation with the Thomas Struth studio, Berlin. It was on view at the Folkwang Museum, Essen and the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. The St. Louis presentation is curated by Eric Lutz, associate curator of prints, drawings, and photographs.

Exhibitions of works on paper

Much of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection is comprised of works on paper that—because of their sensitivity to light exposure—cannot be installed in the galleries on a permanent basis. The public can experience these works of art by appointment in the museum’s print study room, and also through free exhibitions of prints, drawings and photographs in Galleries 234 and 235, which dedicated to works of art on paper.

Learning to See: Renaissance and Baroque Masterworks from the Phoebe Dent Weil and Mark S. Weil Collection (March 3 through July 30)

Learning to See celebrates the promised gift to the Saint Louis Museum of nearly 200 works of art assembled by Phoebe Dent Weil and Mark S. Weil reflecting their passion and deep knowledge of the art and culture of Europe in the 15th to 18th centuries.

Particularly rich in works on paper, the exhibition of 82 works includes rare and beautiful early Italian Renaissance engravings, an extraordinary group of prints by Albrecht Dürer, and an exceptional selection of etchings and drypoints by Rembrandt van Rijn, including a very special impression of his “Hundred Guilder Print.”

The Weil holdings also include Renaissance bronzes and terracottas, as well as fine examples from the 17th century and an outstanding marble portrait bust of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius made in the 18th century.

The Phoebe Dent Weil and Mark S. Weil Collection will transform the museum’s holdings by expanding the number of old master sculptures by one third, adding acclaimed masterpieces that changed the course of printmaking, and enriching the museum’s collection of 16th-century Italian prints and drawings.

Learning to See is curated by Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs; and Judith Mann, curator of European art to 1800. The exhibition will be on view from March 3 through July 30 in Galleries 234 and 235.

Modern and Contemporary Japanese Prints from the Collection (Fall 2017)

In 2016, the Saint Louis Art Museum highlighted its extraordinary collection of war-related, modern Japanese prints and related materials with the exhibition Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan (on view through Jan. 8, 2017).

Next year, the museum will offer a different presentation of modern Japanese art in its galleries for works on paper. Modern and Contemporary Japanese Prints from the Collection tells the  approximately 60 artworks—including single sheet prints, print series, and a woodblock printed coterie magazine—in four sections addressing principal approaches in 20th-century Japanese printmaking.

The first section comprises shin hanga or “new prints,” which revived themes and sensibilities associated with ukiyo-e, such as beautiful women and scenic landscapes. The second section is devoted to the sōsaku hanga or “creative print” movement, which drew inspiration from European modernism and contemporary graphic design. The third section includes Western artists who contributed to the revival and continuing vitality of Japanese printmaking. Finally, the exhibition introduces more experimental works by artists who came into maturity in the postwar period.

Modern and Contemporary Japanese Prints from the Collection is curated by Rhiannon Paget, the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Japanese Art.

Currents exhibitions

In 2017 the museum will continue its Currents series of free exhibitions devoted to contemporary art. Founded in I978, Currents serves as a laboratory for emerging and mid-career artists to create and exhibit new work. Featured artists have included Matthew Buckingham, Dale Chihuly, Leonardo Drew, Brian Eno, Ellen Gallagher, Frank Gehry, Donald Judd, Julie Mehretu, Richard Serra, and Cindy Sherman.

Currents 113: Shimon Attie (April 1 through June 25)

This spring, the Saint Louis Art Museum will present Currents 113: Shimon Attie, an exhibition of new work by the 2016-17 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Fellow

Through works ranging from site-specific public projects and laser projections to immersive multichannel video installations and other new media works, Attie has earned an international reputation for exploring themes of place, memory and communal trauma, as well as the potential for regeneration.

His work has been shown extensively, including at the museum of Modern Art New York, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art.

Supported by the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Endowment Fund, the Freund Teaching Fellowship is designed to promote the creation and exhibition of contemporary art as well as the teaching of contemporary art principles. It consists of two month-long residencies, during which recipients lead studios in the Sam Fox School while preparing an exhibition for the museum’s Currents series.

Attie will discuss his work, including the Currents exhibition that opens the following day, at a lecture in the museum’s Farrell Auditorium on Friday, March 31 at 7 pm. The exhibition will be curated by Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art.

Currents 113: Matt Saunders (Fall 2017)

In the fall of 2017, the Saint Louis Art Museum will present Currents 113: Matt Saunders, an exhibition featuring new work from a variety of media.

Saunders, who is based in Berlin and Cambridge, Mass., is known for his explorations of that ways that images are repeated, altered, and distorted over time and how these changes are often embodied in the materials used to create images across various media and disciplines of art practice.

Saunders has been the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award (2009) and the Prix Jean- François Prat award (2013); he has also had solo shows at Tate Liverpool (2012) and The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2010). His work has been shown in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Aspen Art Museum; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The dates of Currents 113: Matt Saunders will be determined soon. The exhibition will be curated by Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493,