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Past Exhibitions : 2003

Symbol & Substance: The Elaine Ehrenkranz Collection of Japanese Lacquer Boxes

January 23 – April 6, 2003

Japan has long been credited with bringing the art of lacquer to its highest technical and aesthetic development. This exhibition of fifty-six lacquer boxes—ranging in date from the Muromachi (1392–1568) and Momoyama (1568–1615) to Edo (1615–1868) periods—featured one of the most elegant and diverse assemblages of such pieces outside Japan.

The Painted Text: Picturing Narrative in European Art

April 1 – September 14, 2003

Featuring painting, sculpture, and works on paper from the Smart Museum's permanent collection as well as select loans, The Painted Text juxtaposed images from the 16th to 19th centuries with their literary sources in order to investigate how artists interpreted and transformed the stories that inspired them.

Group Portrait

April 5 – June 15, 2003

As part of the artist residency Dawoud Bey: The Chicago Project, the twelve Chicago teenage participants curated this exhibition, featuring photographic portraits from the Smart Museum's collection as well as works on loan from a private collection. 

Dawoud Bey: The Chicago Project

April 24–June 15, 2003

As part of an intensive twelve-week artist residency that began in November 2002, acclaimed Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey led twelve teenagers through a creative and critical investigation of the ways that identity is shaped, portrayed, and expressed in contemporary culture.

Material Identity: Prints by Robert Arneson

June 21 – September 7, 2003

Presented in conjunction with the major touring exhibition Big Idea: The Maquettes of Robert Arneson, this exhibition featured the less well-known prints of this pre-eminent California ceramic sculptor and master draftsman. 

Big Idea: The Maquettes of Robert Arneson

July 10–September 14, 2003

Exhibition of small-scale terracotta maquettes reveals Arneson's evolution as an artist and the development of his freewheeling creativity and prodigious imagination. 

Mid-Century American Abstraction: Master Works on Paper

September 13 – December 7, 2003

Around 1940, as avant-garde art and artists increasingly flooded into the United States from war-torn Europe, American artists forged a new movement: Abstract Expressionism. This exhibition of eleven master drawings, watercolors, and collages looked at this critical period in the adoption of European modernist styles and subjects and their transformation into a new aesthetic free of traditional landscape, still life, or figural images. 

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Sea of Buddha

October 2, 2003 – January 4, 2004

In 1995 after years of lobbying for permission, Hiroshi Sugimoto was allowed to photograph inside Kyoto's famed thirteenth-century Buddhist temple, Sanjusangendo (Hall of Thirty-Three Bays). Working at daybreak, he captured the dawn light illuminating the 1,000 statues of the bodhisattva Kannon, an enlightened being of boundless compassion. Sea of Buddha featured these meditative images which were complemented by a selection of both Sugimoto’s familiar and rarely-seen works.

Visual Mantras: Meditative Traditions in Japanese Buddhist Art

October 2, 2003 – February 22, 2004

A mantra is broadly understood as a type of chant used to focus attention in Buddhist practice, but visual representations were also employed in these rituals. This exhibition examined these contemplative and meditative images in traditional Japanese culture.

Mapping the Sacred: Nineteenth-Century Japanese Buddhist Prints

December 13, 2003 – March 28, 2004

Principally drawn from materials gathered in Japan in the 1890s by Edmund Buckley, a professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Chicago, this exhibition included prints and photographic views of temples and cities, as well as images of religious objects, ceremonies, and deities.