May 20, 2015

Ai Weiwei @ Portland Art Museum

Ai Weiwei
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold
Portland Art Museum
May 23 - September 13, 2015

The installation consists of a dozen gilded bronze sculptures representing the animal symbols from the traditional Chinese zodiac. The artist drew inspiration for the 12 heads from those originally located at Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat of palaces and European-style gardens built outside of Beijing in the 18th and 19th centuries by Emperor Qianlong. Designed and engineered by two European Jesuits, Giuseppe Castiglione and Michel Benoit, the heads originally functioned as an ornate fountain clock that would spout water at two-hour intervals.

Once accessible only to the elite of 18th-century Chinese society, the garden was destroyed and looted by Anglo-French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War, displacing the original zodiac heads. The seven heads known to exist (Monkey, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, and Horse) have all been returned to China. Circle of Animals/ Zodiac Heads: Gold engages issues of looting, repatriation, and cultural heritage while expanding upon ongoing themes in Ai’s work of the “fake” and “copy” in relation to the original.

Ai Weiwei (born 1957, Beijing, China) is a renowned contemporary artist, architectural designer, and social activist who employs a wide range of media. He has been openly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and record of human rights violations, investigated government corruption and coverups, and was held for 81 days at an undisclosed location in 2011. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he is currently prohibited from leaving China without permission.

Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads collection consists of two series: Bronze and Gold. The installation on view at the Portland Art Museum is one of eight smaller gilded editions, intended for interior display. Another series was produced as large-size in bronze, almost 10 feet high and intended for outdoor display.

The sculptures were showcased at the Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza, New York, in May 2011, and since that time they’ve been displayed in museums and other sites around the world, including Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin and The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

“We’re delighted to present this important work by one of the world’s leading contemporary artists,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director. “Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals reflects the Museum’s commitment to the art of today, and it furthers our mission of bringing the world to Oregon. Ai Weiwei’s work reveals layers of history while bringing attention to current economic, political and collecting issues.”

The Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold builds on a strong run of contemporary art exhibitions at the Portland Art Museum. In 2014, the Portland Art Museum was the first museum in North America to exhibit Richard Mosse’s groundbreaking installation, The Enclave. Recent exhibitions in the Contemporary Art Series funded by the Miller Meigs Endowment for Contemporary Art have focused on significant artists including Mike Kelley (2012), Cindy Sherman (2012), Sherrie Levine (2013), and Joel Shapiro (2014).

This exhibition is presented at the Portland Art Museum courtesy of Heather James Fine Art, and curated by Brian J. Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director.

1219 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205

May 17, 2015

Vivienne Westwood, Dress Up Story – 1990 Until Now, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia

Vivienne Westwood, Dress Up Story - 1990 Until Now
SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia

May 19 - September 13, 2015

Ulla Nyeman
Sara Stockbridge and baby Maximilian
Photo courtesy of Ulla Nyeman.

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) presents a premiere exhibition honoring acclaimed fashion designer Dame VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, Dress Up Story – 1990 Until Now, curated by SCAD Trustee André Leon Talley.

Spanning from Dame Vivienne’s groundbreaking Spring/Summer ’91 collection Cut, Slash, and Pull through the current collections, Dress Up Story, the exhibition highlights more than 33 designs realized in collaboration with her creative partner and husband Andreas Kronthaler.

Dame Vivienne is known as a nonconformist, artist and an activist. The  exhibition features garments, accessories and fashion show footage that highlight her innovative pattern making, instinctual use of fabrics, and distinctive technique. The exhibition exalts a  masterful application of color and features the unique fabric patterns and materials that capture both fashion culture and British history.

Dame Vivienne’s work epitomizes the issues of its time, ranging from her participation in shaping the Punk movement in London, to her work as an activist for the environment. “My clothes are more subversive than they’ve ever been,” said Dame Vivienne. “In a world of conformity, they offer a real choice.” Her oeuvre remains a poignant representation of contemporary life, as she skillfully deconstructs and arranges symbolic cultural elements into new and surprising creative designs.

Curator of the exhibition Andre Leon Talley took inspiration from an eccentric British celebration, describing the exhibition as  “A post modern romp of a weekend party where the swells meet the activists, where the rogues go vogue, and the vogues go rogue."

Selections from the SCAD Museum of Art’s Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Art paintings, hung salon style, create a backdrop for the revolutionary flair of the garments.  Dame Vivienne adds, “Our costumes are romantic and theatrical, inspired by history. We know the characters they belong to. Whoever chooses to wear them re-creates the clothes in her own image making them classics. She inhabits a parallel world – like this one but more ideal. Andreas and I have been designing for 25 years, living and working together. It’s our story. We always dress up.”

“The SCAD Museum of Art continues to deliver innovative and dynamic art experiences that inspire students and visitors of all ages,” said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “SCAD is honored to celebrate Dame Vivienne’s illustrious work.”

The exhibition offers a glimpse into the creative process of one of fashion’s most provocative minds, offering a cross-section of Westwood’s history and major fashion accomplishments from the last 25 years.


Vivienne Westwood began designing in 1971 along with her then-partner Malcolm McLaren in London. At the time they used their shop at 430 Kings Road, London, to showcase their ideas and designs. With their changing ideas of fashion came the change of not only the name of the shop but also the décor. It was in 1976 when Westwood and McLaren defined the street culture of punk with Seditionaries.

By the end of the ‘70s, Vivienne Westwood was already considered a symbol of the British avant-garde. For Autumn/Winter 1981 she showed her first catwalk presentation at Olympia in London. Westwood then turned to traditional Savile Row tailoring techniques, using British fabrics and 17th and 18th century art for inspiration.

1989 was the year that Vivienne Westwood met Andreas Kronthaler, who would later become her husband and long-time design partner, as well as creative director of the brand. In 2004 the Victoria and Albert Museum hosted a Vivienne Westwood retrospective exhibition to celebrate her 34 years in fashion – the largest exhibition ever devoted to a living British fashion designer. In 2006, her contribution to British fashion was officially recognized when she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2007 was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion at the British Fashion Awards in London.

Vivienne Westwood is one of the last independent global fashion companies in the world. At times thought provoking, this brand is about more than producing clothes and accessories.

Vivienne Westwood continues to capture the imagination and raise awareness of environmental and human rights issues. With a design record spanning more than 40 years, Vivienne Westwood is now recognized as a global brand and Westwood herself as one of the most influential fashion designers, and activists, in the world today.


André Leon Talley has served as a mentor for SCAD fashion students for over two decades. With a master's degree in French studies, he forged a career in the world of high style. He has worked closely with some of the most celebrated names in fashion, Hollywood and the arts. Talley began his career assisting Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and later wrote for Interview Magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, before joining Vogue, where he served as creative director, editor-at-large and contributing editor for many years.

Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style was the fifth exhibition curated by Talley at the SCAD Museum of Art. Stephen Burrows: An American Master of Inventive Design (2014), Antonio Lopez and the World of Fashion Art (2013) followed the internationally acclaimed Little Black Dress (2012) and High Style (2011). Talley also curated Joaquin Sorolla and the Glory of Spanish Dress (2011), an exhibition of fine art and fashion at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York.

André Leon Talley was awarded an honorary doctorate from SCAD in 2008. He resides in New York and is an active member of the SCAD Board of Trustees.

SCAD Museum of Art
Savannah College of Art and Design
601 Turner Blvd. - Savannah, Georgia