Andy Warhol’s American Icons

Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987). Marilyn Monore (Marilyn), 1967. Screenprint on paper, 40 x 40 in. Private Collection. © 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Marilyn Monroe™; Rights of Publicity and Persona Rights: The Estate of Marilyn Monroe LLC.

Andy Warhol’s American Icons

October 28, 2017 – February 11, 2018

Provocative during his lifetime, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) has since assumed iconic status as one of the most beloved and influential artists of the 20th century. Warhol mined mass culture for his subjects and images, tapping into America’s moods, values, and obsessions–in effect turning a mirror on our popular culture. Warhol’s images of Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor have themselves become defining images of American culture. From his early days as a commercial illustrator, Warhol adopted the look, language, and techniques of advertisements for his art, fusing his personal artistic expression with images from popular culture and mechanical processes.

Organized by GRAM, this unique exhibition showcases Warhol’s vision and celebration of America by bringing together paintings, prints, photographs, and films that create a handbook of American cultural icons. One of Warhol’s most important early paintings, Green Coca-Cola Bottles, is featured on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Created in 1962, the painting is composed of neat rows of the company’s iconic glass bottles, reminiscent of a supermarket display, save for the irregularity of the individually hand-stamped bottles. The exhibition also includes paintings and prints which utilize the silkscreen technique that Warhol adopted a year later, in 1963, and with which he is most associated. Subjects include Muhammad Ali, Sitting Bull, dollar signs (what could be more American?), and one of the most iconic of Michiganders, Gerald Ford.

Rounding out the exhibition are photographs and early films, from a time when Warhol was experimenting with the medium. Empire, an eight-hour long “portrait” of the famed Empire State Building as filmed from a static position in an adjacent building, will be on view, along with several of the artist’s Screen Tests. The Screen Tests are 3-minute filmed portraits of Warhol Factory regulars and visitors, in which the subjects stared back at or enjoyed the attention of the stationary camera, constructing their own personas before our eyes.

Included in the exhibition are loans of artwork from the following collections:
• The Andy Warhol Museum
• Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
• Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
• Steelcase, Inc. Art Collection
• Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
• Whitney Museum of American Art
• Collection of Carol Sarosik and Shelley Padnos
• Collection of Sam and Janene Cummings

Off-Shore and On the Beach

Left: William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825–1905). Sisters on the Shore, 1896. Oil on Canvas. 56 x 36 inches. Gift of Charles Willis Ward. Right: Èdouard Manet (French, 1832–1883). On the Beach, c. 1868. Oil on canvas. 15 3/4 x 19 inches. Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill.

Off-Shore and On the Beach

July 7, 2017 – August 27, 2017

This year’s statewide exhibition, organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, juxtaposes two 19th century seaside scenes by French painters Èdouard Manet and William Adolphe Bouguereau from the DIA’s world-renowned collection. The subject of figures by the seashore was of great interest to many 19th century painters, though approaches to the theme were quite varied. This exhibition provides the opportunity to compare a sketchy, impressionistic painting by Manet alongside the meticulously realistic canvas by Bouguereau, as well as the chance to view a number of paintings and works on paper from GRAM’s own collection featuring the same shore-side theme.

This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Christian Marclay: Video Quartet

Image of four projected screens featuring musical instruments and singersChristian Marclay (b. 1955). Video Quartet, 2002. Four‑channel video projection, color, sound, 17 min. 96 × 480 in. (243.8 × 1219.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee 2005.171. © Christian Marclay. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Christian Marclay: Video Quartet

October 28, 2017 – January 14, 2018

Since the 1980s, Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay has sampled, improvised, and remixed sound, video, and performance into astonishing works that defy categorization. Marclay’s seventeen-minute installation, Video Quartet, consists of four synchronized videos shown on adjoining screens, each with its own soundtrack. Video Quartet is made up of more than 700 individual fragments of film and sound from popular movies in which characters play instruments, sing, or make noise in one way or another. Marclay reorganized the clips on a home computer into a new unified composition in which the performers seem to improvise together free of their original context. The clips included in Video Quartet are primarily taken from Hollywood feature films dating from the 1920s to the early twenty-first century. The work opens with scenes of an orchestra tuning up, followed by clips in which characters play instruments or sing, interspersed with scenes featuring shouts, screams, and close-ups of various noise-making objects.

This exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle

Cascade, 2015. Oil and alkyd on wood panel, 72 x 144 inches. Commissioned by Grand Rapids Art Museum with funds provided by Peter Wege, Jim and Mary Nelson, John and Muriel Halick, Mary B. Loupee, Karl and Patricia Betz, and general accessions funds. Grand Rapids Art Museum, 2015.19

Wood Frog, 2017. Sand from Pictured Rocks and acrylic polymer on paper, 9 x 12 ½ inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.

Upper Peninsula, 2017. Watercolor, ink, and acrylic on paper, 74 x 52 inches. Collection of Jonathan O'Hara Gallery.

Korvis Blue Butterfly, 2017. Sand from Manistee and acrylic polymer on paper, 9 x 12 ½ inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.

Chimera, 2017. Watercolor, ink, and acrylic on paper, 73 3/8 x 52 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.

Zebra Mussel, 2017. Sand from Saugatuck and acrylic polymer on paper, 12 ½ x 9 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle

January 27, 2018 – April 29, 2018

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle explores the past, present, and future of North America’s Great Lakes–one of the world’s most emblematic and ecologically significant ecosystems.

This multifaceted project was initiated in 2013 when artist Alexis Rockman embarked on a research tour of the Great Lakes region. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a suite of five mural-sized paintings which explore separate themes that emerged during Rockman’s travels. These are accompanied by several large-scale watercolors and field drawings–monochromatic animal and plant studies made from site-sourced organic material such as mud, sand, coal, and leaves.

One of the world’s great natural treasures, the Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, and Superior—form an interconnected system that is among the most beautiful, economically important, and ecologically complex regions on the planet. The Great Lakes, which hold over 20% of the world’s fresh water, contain some of the most precious resources for the future of humankind and life on earth. Rockman’s series celebrates the natural majesty and global importance of the Great Lakes while exploring how they are threatened by factors including climate change, globalization, invasive species, mass agriculture and urban sprawl. While there has been some success in reversing these trends, the exhibition of these dramatic works will serve to inspire wider understanding and draw greater attention to the urgency of these issues. For information on Great Lakes conservation and how you can protect the lakes click here.

Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue published by the Grand Rapids Art Museum in association with Michigan State University Press. The catalogue was written by Dana Friis-Hansen, with contributions by Jeff Alexander and Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, and a forward by Mark Van Putten, CEO of Wege Foundation. It is available in the Museum Store and online.

Another way to dive deeper into The Great Lakes Cycle is with the online course developed by Northern Michigan University. The course consists of essays, videos, illustrations, and interactive images which focus on Rockman’s five mural-sized paintings and their contents. NMU biology professor Jill Leonard, art and design professors Taimur Cleary and Daric Christian, along with a team of undergraduate students, developed the course with the idea that approaching the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the arts may increase the engagement and understanding of students with a broad range of interests.

About the Artist

Born in 1962 and raised in New York City, Rockman has been the subject of many international solo and group exhibitions, including a major retrospective organized at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His work is also included in public and private collections around the world, and he has held a number of teaching posts at prestigious institutions, such as Columbia and Harvard.

Rockman synthesizes human history, natural science, and landscape painting to create visual vistas that reveal unexpected relationships across time and space. Since the mid-1980s, he has created a dramatic and distinct body of epic-scale paintings and works on paper that draw from his deft artistic skills, rich visual inventiveness, deep scientific awareness, broad art historical knowledge, and a passionate concern about the Earth’s ecological future.

The son of an Australian jazz musician and American urban archeologist, Rockman spent his childhood exploring Central Park, studying natural history guide books, watching nature documentary films, frequenting the Museum of Natural History dioramas and creating his own vivariums, all experiences that have shaped The Great Lakes Cycle.

Exhibition Touring Schedule

Following its debut in Grand Rapids, Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle will travel to the following venues:

Chicago Cultural Center – June 2 through October 1, 2018

Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland – October 19, 2018 through January 27, 2019

Haggerty Museum of Art of Marquette University, Milwaukee – February 8 to May 19, 2019

Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis – October 5, 2019 through January 5, 2020

Flint Institute of Arts – May 9 to August 16, 2020

Related Events

Headshot of woman with copper colored hair and red lipstick
Fatal Crossing: The Mysterious Disappearance of NWA Flight 2501
March 22, 2018, 7:00 PM-8:15 PM

Join us as underwater explorer and author Valerie van Heest uncovers the story behind just one of the many historical references in The Great Lakes Cycle paintings–the disappearance of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 which was lost over Lake Michigan on June 23, 1950.

Baby and Me Tour
Baby and Me Tour
March 27, 2018, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM

Moms, dads, caregivers, and grandparents are invited to join us for an interactive tour and discussion inspired by our latest exhibition, Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle.

Painting with Watercolors
Spring Break Drop-in Studio
April 3, 2018, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM

Drop-in Studio will be open for a special Tuesday session on April 3! Experiment with different watercolor techniques in GRAM Studio to create underwater scenes inspired by the paintings of Alexis Rockman.

painting with watercolor
Drop-in Studio: Saturated Scenes
Saturdays in April, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM

Alexis Rockman takes advantage of watercolor’s fluidity and spontaneity in his series of vibrant aquatic paintings. Experiment with different watercolor techniques in GRAM Studio to create underwater scenes full of aquatic life and intense color.

Lunch & Learn: Field Drawings
April 24, 2018, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM

Can you paint with mud? How about sand? Join us during your lunch hour a hands-on art making experience in GRAM Studio.

sewing together beanie babies
Creativity Uncorked: Future Fauna Lab
April 26, 2018, 6:45 PM-9:45 PM

What will animals look like in a toxic future landscape? Choose specimens from our collection of beanie babies to dissect, reconfigure, and suture back together as models of future fauna during an evening you won’t soon forget.

Permanent Collection

Permanent Collection

February 24, 2017 – September 12, 2017

As the heart of the Museum, our collection is constantly growing and changing—just like the city it serves. For over 100 years, GRAM’s collection has been cultivated to included a diverse array of American and European prints, paintings, sculptures, and a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. From a trove of over 6,000 works, this season features exciting changes to the look and layout of the Museum’s permanent collection galleries. New and noteworthy are several recent acquisitions and loans, an expanded focus on Michigan artists, new selections from our ongoing ArtPrize Encore series, and spotlight sections devoted to inspiring themes.

Art in Bloom

Art in Bloom

March 24, 2017 – March 26, 2017

Art in Bloom is a bi-annual, one-weekend-only exhibition that celebrates the combined beauty of art and floral design. Come see the first signs of spring at the Museum while touring the galleries and enjoying extravagant floral sculptures. Our region’s most talented floral designers will create thought provoking and elegantly designed arrangements inspired by works from the Museum’s collection. These floral sculptures emphasize, challenge, and build upon elements and concepts within the original work of art, creating an extraordinary dialogue between the two pieces. Visitors will be invited to select the People’s Choice Award Winner by casting a vote for their favorite floral sculpture. This three-day exhibition is a must-see!

View Art in Bloom photos here

Congratulations to our 2017 Jury Award Winners

1st Place
Alyssa Ferguson | Fleurology Designs (#4)
Inspired by: Lady in Opera Cloak (Portrait of Miss C.) by William Merritt Chase
1st Place
Gary Wells AIFD, CFD (#17)
Inspired by: Eight-Fold Screen by Eugene Masselink
2nd Place
Geniene Hourigan-Culp (#6)
Inspired by: Forest by Werner Drewes

Congratulations to our 2017 People’s Choice Award Winners

1st Place
Mari Ignatoski | Ginko Studios Floral Design (#8)
Inspired by: Balcony Railing by Hector Guimard
2nd Place
Alyssa Ferguson | Fleurology Designs (#4)
Inspired by: Lady in Opera Cloak (Portrait of Miss C.) by William Merritt Chase

The Art of Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg, Rube Goldberg Inventions United States Postal Service Stamp (included on sheet of “Comic Classics” stamps), date unknown. Sheet of USPS stamps. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc. All Rights Reserved. RUBE GOLDBERG ® is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc. All materials used with permission.

The Art of Rube Goldberg

May 20, 2017 – August 27, 2017

The Art of Rube Goldberg is the first comprehensive survey exhibition in nearly 50 years that demonstrates the artistic talent and endless imagination of the legendary American cartoonist and illustrator, Rube Goldberg (1883-1970). Celebrated for his graphic techniques, enduring characters, and especially for his invention drawings, Goldberg is an American cultural icon whose influence can still be felt today. The Art of Rube Goldberg brings together more than 75 drawings, rare photographs, sketches, and animated films, as well as rare personal photographs and memorabilia from the Goldberg family archives, to bring to life one of 20th century America’s most wildly talented innovators.

The exhibition traces Goldberg’s career over a remarkable 72-year period, from a rare early drawing, through his syndicated strips of the 1920s and 30s, to his influential later works. The Pulitzer Prize-winning artist is best known for his invention drawings–complex chain-reaction machines designed to perform simple tasks. These humorous drawings and cartoons were for Goldberg, “a symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results.”

From board games and toys to music videos and Hollywood movies, Goldberg has influenced some of the most indelible moments in pop culture. His name is so synonymous with his creations that it was added to the Merriam-Wesbter Dictionary as an adjective that describes the act of complicating a simple task.

Enhancing the exhibition is Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ 30-minute video, The Way Things Go (1986–1987), in which objects such as tires, saws, ladders, and buckets are animated by physics: water, fire, gas, and gravity propelled these objects to collide and react in a chain of events. Rube Goldberg’s invention drawings were a major inspiration for Fischli and Weiss during the two years they spent working on the video.

The Art of Rube Goldberg was conceived by Creighton Michael; developed in cooperation with Heirs of Rube Goldberg, LLC, New York, New York; and curated by Max Weintraub. The tour was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

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Selections from GRAM’s Collection

Selections from GRAM’s Collection

November 10, 2016 – January 22, 2017

Due to the scale of Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, selections from GRAM’s permanent collection have been temporarily relocated to Level II. Stop by to see public favorites like paintings by Mathias Alten, sculptures by Alexander Calder, design by Charles and Ray Eames, and other exciting collection highlights.

Black Waves: The Tattoo Art of Leo Zulueta

Black Waves: The Tattoo Art of Leo Zulueta

February 5, 2017 – August 27, 2017

Tattooing as we know it in Western cultures originated in the Pacific Rim. The word tattoo derives from the Polynesian term, tatau. Leo Zulueta is a pioneer of what is generally called tribal tattooing, a dominant trend of the contemporary tattoo scene that took root in the United States in the late 1970s. With the encouragement of tattoo master Don Ed Hardy, Zulueta immersed himself in the visual designs and cultural significance of Pacific Rim nations, such as Samoa, Micronesia, Borneo, Fiji, and the Marquesas Islands. He began to develop his own designs inspired by these traditional Pacific Rim motifs, and has been tattooing his own clients since 1981.

In Pacific Rim Nations, tattooing exists as much more than simple body adornment. The bold designs hold symbolic significance, with each nation developing their own motifs characterized by stylistic geometric patterning, at times covering all areas of the wearer’s body. Zulueta, Hawaiian born of Filipino heritage, describes his bold, all-black designs as “a style of tattooing that is influenced by the various indigenous tribes that have tattooed over the last thousand years.” Zulueta always creates his own designs that are unique to the individual wearer, considering it “disrespectful to copy traditional designs exactly… without having any personal relationship to these cultures.”

Black Waves: The Tattoo Art of Leo Zulueta is a visual biography of the man largely responsible for the popularization of tribal tattooing. The exhibition’s narrative format draws on Zulueta’s personal and cultural history, as well as the historical cultures that greatly influenced his work. His range of personal imagery and projects are presented in the form of personal photographs, texts, hand-drawn tattoo “flash,” tattoo-inspired drawings, and a large-scale mural created specifically for GRAM’s lobby.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

Steelcase, Inc.

Beusse & Porter Family Foundation

The Jury Foundation

Clark Communications

Additional funding is provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society

Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects

Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects

February 5, 2017 – April 30, 2017

What drives the universal human impulse to collect objects? What makes different objects desirable? What are some of the hidden treasures in Grand Rapids and throughout West Michigan? These questions, and others, are addressed and answered by Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects. From fine art to Victorian jewelry, rare and precious minerals to antique rifles, sneakers to carpet sweepers, decorative glass, and more, Finders Keepers celebrates the passion and drive that fuel the collecting bug. Organized by our curatorial team in collaboration with community scouts, the exhibition includes hundreds of diverse objects drawn from both private and institutional collections in a lively and unique gallery setting.

Humans have accumulated objects for centuries—and before Museums existed—ambitious individuals assembled impressive private collections of objects from nature, culture, and history. Many of today’s museums developed from the collections of multiple individuals, essentially forming collections of collections. Beyond whatever fuels the urge to collect, the items collectors assemble reveal aspects of who they are. The objects in Finders Keepers shine light on the different disciplines or subcultures with which the collectors align themselves. Individuals often are, or become, experts in the histories of their collected objects. Serious collectors will travel great distances to procure a certain item, while some simply enjoy exploring, socializing, and trading with collectors who have similar interests.

Among the hundreds of objects on display are geodes, amethysts, quartz crystals, and other rocks and minerals from the collection of self-described “rock hound” Roger King, who has assembled an astounding array over a span of 60 years. Harry L. Rinker’s diverse and eccentric collections are represented by selections of wooden jigsaws, mid-century German ceramics, and cat-themed sheet music. A selection of the Public Museum’s collection of more than 1,500 carpet sweepers–a gift from the Bissell Company–will be on view illustrating design innovation from the past century. Embroidered samplers from Ann Kelly’s collection are a window into the lives of young 19th century British girls, for whom decorative embroidery was part of their domestic education. In partnership with the Grand Rapids Public Library Youth Services, the exhibition will also include a selection of objects collected by young people, revealing that collecting can start early in life.

In its array of objects, Finders Keepers reflects the myriad interests of West Michiganders and celebrates our region’s creativity and uniqueness.

Exhibition Videos