The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis is recipient of a 2004 Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The award, granted every two years, will provide $125,000 in support of Reality Bites: Making Avant-Garde Art in Post-Wall Germany. The show, which includes approximately 70 artworks by 30 artists, will be the inaugural loan exhibition in the museum’s new facilities, scheduled to open in Fall 2006.
Established in 1998, the Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award supports innovation and experimentation at the curatorial level, funding thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and the mainstream of contemporary art. This year’s other recipient is the Bronx Museum of the Arts, for the exhibition Street Art, Street Life, which will be curated by Lydia Yee and will open in 2007.
Reality Bites is conceived and organized by Sabine Eckmann, Ph.D., curator of the Kemper Art Museum. The exhibition will examine how the visual arts have dealt, both directly and indirectly, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent reunification of East and West Germany, paying particular attention to the interdependence of art and the social, economic and political worlds.
“The artworks to be presented were all executed in roughly the first decade of the new Germany,” explained Eckmann, herself a German native. “They mediate as well as contribute to the radical political, geographical and cultural transformations of this time, positing a new relation between art and the everyday, art and ‘reality,’ or art and non-art through the use of technological media and new uses of traditional media.”
Reality Bites will feature video, photography, installation, assemblage and new media work, both by German artists and by international artists now living in Germany. Participants include Kutlug Ataman, Cosima von Bonin, Sophie Calle, Isa Genzken, Sabine Hornig, Christian Jankowski, Via Lewandowsky, Marcel Odenbach, Manfred Pernice and Daniel Pflumm.
“In contrast to the majority of scholarship on German modern and postmodern art, which focuses on a homogenous, nationally oriented German art history, Reality Bites will open up new avenues for understanding contemporary art and its relation to national and international forces,” Eckmann explained. “It is organized around three themes — Redressing Germany, Globalization, and Collective Trauma — as seen through the lens of the period of time marked by the end of the cold war, the failure of its respective ideologies, and the apparent culmination of a globalized world.”
The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation
The Tremaine Foundation, headquartered in Meriden, Connecticut, was founded by Emily Hall Tremaine, a life-long collector of contemporary art. Mrs. Tremaine established the foundation prior to her death in 1987. The bulk of the collection of Emily Hall Tremaine and her husband, Burton G. Tremaine — known as one of the world’s most exceptional collections of contemporary art — was sold at auction in 1988 and 1991, thus generating the asset base of the Tremaine Foundation in her name. Since 1992, the Tremaine Foundation has been active in the arts as well as the fields of learning disabilities and the environment. In addition to its Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award, the Tremaine Foundation has expressed its commitment to contemporary art by designing its Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program, which focuses on providing professional development training for visual artists throughout the nation.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (formerly the Washington University Gallery of Art) dates back to 1881 and the founding of Washington University’s St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, making it the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Today, the Kemper Art Museum boasts one of the finest university collections in the United States, encompassing more than 3,000 objects, with the strongest holdings in 19th, 20th and 21st century European and American art. Other notable holdings include two Egyptian mummies, several Greek vases and the Wulfing Collection of approximately 14,000 Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins.
As one of five partners in Washington University’s Sam Fox Arts Center — an umbrella organization that also includes the School of Architecture, School of Art, Art & Architecture Library and Department of Art History & Archaeology in Arts & Sciences — the Kemper Art Museum is committed to furthering critical thinking and visual literacy within the larger St. Louis community. This fall, the Sam Fox Arts Center will begin construction of two new buildings designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, including a 65,000-square-foot museum facility containing state-of-the-art exhibition and storage facilities.