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. www.rubegoldberg.com

The Art of Rube Goldberg

May 20, 2017 – August 27, 2017

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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

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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

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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

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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

Prints and Processes

Mark di Suvero (American, b. 1933) Afterstudy for Marianne Moore, 1976. Lithograph on paper. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Miner S. and Mary Ann Keeler, 2016.13

Prints and Processes

January 24, 2017 – June 25, 2017

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Drawn entirely from GRAM’s collection, this thematic exhibition reveals the depth and quality of the Museum’s holding of prints; a collection that spans the 16th century to the present. Works by well-known artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, William Blake, Mary Cassatt, and Andy Warhol are organized by printmaking method. Each section of the exhibition provides information about the different methods, tools, and materials that go into the production of the most common print forms, including woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, screen-prints, and monoprints.

Mirror Memory

Mirror Memory

May 30, 2016 – August 21, 2016

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Since its invention in the mid-19th century, photography has been crucial to how we see ourselves and the world we live in. Drawn entirely from GRAM’s permanent collection, Mirror Memory surveys two centuries of photographic landscapes, portraits, novelties, and experimental works, including examples of early daguerreotypes and tintypes, classic black and white images, and large-scale digital prints in bold color. Among the photographers represented are Berenice Abbott, Julia Margaret Cameron, Robert Frank, and Edward Steichen– some of the medium’s most prominent names. Mirror Memory refers to the term “the mirror with a memory,” which was coined to describe photography’s uncanny ability to capture and keep an image for all time. As this exhibition amply demonstrates, photography still has the power to fascinate, move, and challenge viewers.

Whistler and his Circle: Etchings from the Permanent Collection

Whistler and his Circle: Etchings from the Permanent Collection

May 22, 2016 – August 14, 2016

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James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) was an international artist, one of the 19th century’s true masters. He was born in America, spent his childhood in Russia and young adulthood in Paris, and settled into a professional life in London. His early paintings and prints were rooted in European Realism of the past and present, and his etching style in particular drew inspiration from seventeenth-century Dutch artists such as Rembrandt. Whistler soon turned away from Realism toward a more expressive style, creating paintings, pastels, and prints of people and landscapes drawn with poetic suggestiveness rather than visual accuracy. The sketchy quality of his mature work was sometimes seen in a negative light, with critics accusing him of showing unfinished work. The lack of finish and detail in his work had much in common with the art of the French Impressionists, who were then coming into prominence.

Whistler had a full social and artistic life interacting with an extensive community of artists. He regularly worked alongside other artists when sketching out of doors, or when printing proofs of his etchings in the studio. This exhibition focuses on five of the artists who worked alongside him in this way: Otto Bacher, Frank Duveneck, Francis Seymour Haden, Alphonse Legros, and Mortimer Menpes, as well as other artists who knew Whistler personally, including Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and James Tissot. All of the prints in the exhibition were created during Whistler’s lifetime, giving the viewer a unique window into the artistic world surrounding this remarkable artist.

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

Capriole Ensemble

Capriole, Ensemble, July 2011. In collaboration with Isaie Bloch and Materialise. 3D printed polyamide Groninger Museum, 2012.0209. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Voltage Dress

Voltage, Dress, January 2013. In collaboration with Philip Beesley. Laser cut 3D polyester film lace, micro fiber Collection of the designer. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Refinery Smoke Dress

Refinery Smoke, Dress, July 2008. Untreated woven metal gauze, cow leather, cotton. Groninger Museum, 2012.0196. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Radiation Invasion Dress

Radiation Invasion, Dress, September 2009. Faux leather, gold foil, cotton, tulle. Groninger Museum, 2012.0201. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Magnetic Motion Dress

Magnetic Motion, Dress, September 2014. 3D printed transparent Photopolymer, SLA. (stereolithography) resin. High Museum of Art, Purchase with funds from the Decorative Arts Acquisition Trust and through prior acquisitions, 2015.82. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Hybrid Holism

Hybrid Holism, Dress, July 2012. Metallic coated stripes, tulle, cotton. Collection of the designer. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Hybrid Holism Dress

Hybrid Holism, Dress, July 2012. 3-D printed UV-curable polymer. In collaboration with Julia Koerner and Materialise High Museum of Art, Supported by the Friends of Iris van Herpen, 2015.170. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Hacking Infinity Shoes

Hacking Infinity, Shoes, 2015. In collaboration with Noritaka Tatehana and 3D Systems. Laser-cut cow leather, 3-D printed photopolymer, and stereolithography resin. Collection of the designer Photograph ©NORITAKA TATEHANA.

Chemical Crows Dress

Chemical Crows, Dress, Collar, January 2008. Ribs of children's umbrellas, cow leather. Groninger Museum, 2012.0192.a-b. Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios.

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

October 23, 2016 – January 15, 2017

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Step onto the runway this fall with an in-depth look at the work of Dutch fashion designer, Iris van Herpen. Cutting-edge designs by van Herpen have been worn by style icons such as Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Bjork and have electrified the runways of Amsterdam, London, and Paris. She has gained international acclaim for her combination of traditional craftsmanship and futuristic, innovative techniques—including some of the world’s first examples of 3-D-printed fashion. Her visually impressive, sculptural designs often feature unusual materials such as umbrella ribs and synthetic boat rigging.

Iris van Herpen produced her first collection in 2007, shortly after graduating from the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in the Netherlands. Born in the small town of Wamel, she is now based primarily in Amsterdam. In 2012 she became a member of the exclusive Chambre Syndicale de Haute Couture, where her designs regularly appear in biannual Paris runway shows. Van Herpen divides her time between the contained world of her studio, her global network of collaborators, and the international stage of fashion.

Speaking of her artistic philosophy, van Herpen says, “For me fashion is an expression of art that is very closely related to me and to my body. I see it as my expression of identity combined with desire, moods, and cultural setting. Wearing clothing creates an exciting and imperative form of self-expression. ‘Form follows function’ is not a slogan with which I concur. On the contrary, I find that forms complement and change the body and thus the emotion.”

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion features 45 haute couture outfits carefully selected from 15 of van Herpen’s collections designed from 2008 through 2015: 18 pieces from the designer’s most recent lines and a selection of her shoe designs, and 27 pieces from van Herpen’s solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum, Netherlands.

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Groninger Museum, the Netherlands. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Schleuning, High Museum of Art, and Mark Wilson and Sue-an van der Zijpp, Groninger Museum. Support for this exhibition has generously been provided by Creative Industries Fund NL. GRAM is one of only seven North American venues for Transforming Fashion.

Exhibition Videos

Maureen Nollette: Honorable Ordinaries

Maureen Nollette: Honorable Ordinaries

May 19, 2016 – August 14, 2016

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Maureen Nollette’s work explores the beauty and meaning of repetitive patterns, grid systems, and their collective place within both modern art and traditional textile crafts. She is interested in the perceived value difference between the geometric grid as utilized in modernist art, and the patterning of quilts and other textile crafts that have historically been dismissed as “women’s work.” Though Nollette’s art comments on the tradition of textile crafts, she substitutes household materials like paper, contact paper, and fiberglass mesh for fabric. 
 
Nollette’s installation of with/without is comprised of rows of chevrons in a decorative pattern that covers large portions of an exterior window. The viewer’s range of vision is influenced or obstructed by the pervasive shapes, allowing the choice to either see the chevrons, or see past them. The chevron, an angled shape that references the roof of a house, is an honorable ordinary that symbolizes protection. Honorable ordinaries are the original marks of distinction on coats-of-arms indicating the owner’s distinguished service. The chevron’s dual connotations of private home life and public service echoes the grid’s dual presence in domestic craft and fine art.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:
Steelcase Inc.
Porter Foundation
The Jury Foundation

Michigan Artist Series Sally England: New Knots

Sally England (American, b. 1979) Sacred Arch, 2015 Cotton rope 43 x 22 inches Image courtesy of the artist

Michigan Artist Series Sally England: New Knots

January 31, 2016 – April 17, 2016

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Sally England is a fiber artist based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Ojai, California. She has gained national acclaim for her work in macramé, an ancient form of textile making using decorative knots. The art of macramé dates to the thirteenth century, when Arabian weavers knotted the extra thread at the edges of loomed fabric into decorative fringe. The European history of macramé can be traced to sailors of the early fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, who spread the art form across the globe. Macramé was revived in the Victorian era and again in the 1970s. Today, the craft is appreciated for its uniqueness and tactility in an age when we are surrounded by mass manufactured objects and digital imagery.

England creates her macramé using thick ropes, producing large-scale and unconventional works that have a strong physical presence. She excels in the precision and uniformity of her knots, to produce work with both great technical skill and a playful spontaneity. England’s exhibition at GRAM will be on the Museum’s light-filled Second Floor East Court.