BOSTON, MA.- Contemporary sensibility and the decorative arts converge at Bostons Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in CHAIRS, a collaborative exhibition featuring contemporary photographic chair portraits by Gardner Museum Artist-in-Residence Dayanita Singh and a pair of multi-media and gallery installations featuring historic chairs from the collection. Exploring the cultural, historic, and aesthetic importance of chairs as decorative art, as well as a source of inspiration for a contemporary artist, Chairs also introduces visitors to the unique personalities of various types of chairs.
In Chairs, a new synthesis emerges, one that combines an historical record of chairs and the decorative arts, an appreciation for the cultural importance of chairs as everyday objects and a reawakening of the aesthetic sensibilities of chairs as an inspiration for contemporary artists, says Pieranna Cavalchini, Curator of Contemporary Art and co-curator of Chairs. Dayanitas images of chairs and empty spaces also provide an evocative glimpse into the unique personalities of chairs of different sizes, styles, and aesthetics. Dayanitas images and the exhibitions historic installations also suggest a social hierarchy of chairs of different styles and periods, says Alan Chong, Curator of the Collection and Chairs co-curator. Chairs even seem to have their own personalities, with a sense of status, age, and gender.
Dayanita Singh came to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the summer of 2002 for the Museums Artist-in-Residence program. I carried with me contact sheets of all the empty spaces I had been photographing in Calcutta, in the weeks before. Intimidated by the grandeur of the fine art I was living amidst at the Gardner, I withdrew into my contact sheets. Singh slowly began to photograph objects in the Museum, and found that she was somehow drawn mainly to the collection of chairs as though they were people she would have made portraits of in her earlier work. Chairs is Dayanita Singhs first solo museum exhibition in the United States. The exhibition is on view at the Gardner Museum February 11, 2005 through May 8, 2005.
The invention of many creative people and an international team of artists and curators, Chairs is the first exhibition presented at the Gardner Museum to use a new collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to an exhibition. We brought together delicious minds: an Indian artist, an Italian furniture historian, and an American museum educator, and asked them to work and create together, says ANNE HAWLEY, Norma Jean Calderwood Director. In Chairs, the result is an exhibition that continues the legacy of our founder by fostering artists and creating new contexts for visitors.
Chairs is the result of a collaboration with photographer DAYANITA SINGH, in conversation with Italian furniture expert FAUSTO CALDERAI, designer ANDREA ANASTASIO, art educator CARLA HARTMAN, and filmmaker MICHAEL SHERIDAN and is co-curated by Gardner Museum curators: Curator of Contemporary Art PIERANNA CAVALCHINI, Curator of the Collection ALAN CHONG and Curator of Education MARGARET BURCHENAL. The exhibition is also the first of three consecutive contemporary exhibitions at the Gardner Museum in 2005, marking an important milestone in the history of contemporary art at the Gardner, culminating with an exhibition by the museums 50th Artist-in-Residence Adriana Varejão in Fall 2005.