Crystals in Art, the new exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, is a first of its kind exhibition featuring crystals, art made from crystals, and work inspired by or related to crystals. It is evident that there is a connection between the museum and the stone, and it's the word "crystal" in the facility's name. Besides that connection, there is the one of location. Both the museum and some of the world's richest crystal mines are located in Arkansas. Some geologists consider the crystals from Arkansas along with those from Brazil, to be the finest in the world. "The Holy Grail" on display in the exhibition is the largest quartz cluster ever found in Arkansas and weighs 1,500 pounds. The following information about the exhibition is from the museum:
Bentonville, Ark. – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents the debut of Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today on view October 12, 2019 to January 6, 2020. Tickets are available here for $12, and general admission is free for members, veterans, and youth ages 18 and under.
Crystals in Art features 75 objects, including artworks, artifacts, and 10 crystal specimens that explore how crystals have captured the human imagination across time, place, and culture, and draw on the links between art, religion, science, and social status. The exhibition presents a wide variety of media from sculpture, photography, etching, drawing, video, mixed-media, and crystals as early tools, ritual objects, jewelry, decorative items, and more. Artworks featured in the exhibition are on loan from museum collections nationwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, CA, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, among others, and private collections.
Crystals in Art features objects from a 5,000-year period that span the world-- from ancient Egyptian figurines, to an engraved rock crystal from first-century Rome, a pendant of a rosary from sixteenth-century Mexico, into modern times with Andy Warhol’s screen prints from the 1970s, a 2015 life-sized crystal chandelier by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, among others. Contemporary artists included in the exhibition, Olafur Eliasson, Marina Abramović, Jen DeNike, Marilyn Minter, Albrecht Dürer, Cindy Sherman, Judy Chicago, Alexis Arnold, Tacita Dean, Carter Mull, Daniel Arsham, Anthony James, Eric Hilton, and Miya Ando, reveal the persistent allure of the medium of crystal for art making. Visitors will also encounter 10 crystal specimens including a monumental quartz crystal named The Holy Grail. Mined in 1931 in west central Arkansas, an area renowned for producing some of the largest and clearest quartz crystals in the world, The Holy Grail is the largest crystal cluster ever mined in Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges also partnered with the University of Arkansas and Dr. Tom Paradise, professor of geosciences at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, to lend his expertise on the geology of crystals. Dr Paradise will be leading a free Discover the Grounds event on Saturday, November 9, where he will discuss the geological formations that set Arkansas apart from other regions of the United States, and lead a walk to our large installation of crystals from Blue Springs, Arkansas.
“Crystals have captivated the human imagination since the beginning of time,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer at Crystal Bridges. “In Crystals in Art, we expand our focus on American art to explore the full impact of crystal on monarchs, religious leaders, and artists. This exhibition is distinctive for the museum because Arkansas is the only place in North America where high-quality quartz crystal is mined. This exhibition gives us an opportunity to shine a light on the natural state.”
Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today was organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; co-curated by Lauren Haynes, curator, contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and curator of visual arts at the Momentary, and Joachim Pissarro, Bershad Professor of Art History at Hunter College and Director of the Hunter College Galleries, CUNY/City University of New York.
“This exhibition serves to investigate the surprising role of crystals in the arts through the ages,” said Haynes. “We have an opportunity to expand on the dialogue around the relationship between crystals and art and offer new insights.”
“As we began research at Crystal Bridges for this exhibition, we discovered endless numbers of possibilities, working through a wealth of crystal artifacts and artworks from around the world,” said Pissarro. “However, the wide span of crystals in art featured in this exhibition is really a testimony to the rise and fall of empires under which these artifacts were created, and one could even say that the continuous fascination with crystal serves as a common denominator between different cultural, ethnic, and religious groups.”
The exhibition is organized into five sections, each one focusing on a different aspect of crystal and how it has been perceived by various societies across humanity’s timeline.
Crystal Bridges is offering a full roster of programs inspired by the show with several classes that feature Crystals in Art artists as the instructors. For information about programs and classes, click here.