The Memphis Brooks Museum's "Contempt for the New" exhibit puts shock and awe under glass.
Nothing provokes cattiness, crankiness, and reckless ire like a piece of unusual art. In 1896, the audience rose from their chairs and howled at the first spoken word of Alfred Jarry's profane political satire Ubu Roi. The Impressionists were persona non grata at the annual salon exhibitions in Paris. "The Fauves," a group of European expressionists who emphasized strong color and loose technique, literally translates as "wild beasts." Truman Capote described Jack Kerouac's racing prose as "typing," not writing. Jackson Pollock's splatter style of painting earned him the nickname "Jack the Dripper" (pictured: his "Number 9"). The list of maligned trailblazers goes on.
With "Contempt for the New," Brooks Museum curator Marina Pacini showcases the work of several spectacular artists ranging from Cezanne and Matisse to Pollock and Memphis' own William Eggleston to explain how the history of modernism is also a history of foot-stomping hissy fits about anything new and different.
"Each work is accompanied by a quotation from a contemporary critic or member of the public," says Brooks' marketing director Elisabeth Callihan. "It makes people think more critically about what's going on in our own time."
Every Thursday in March an accompanying lecture will examine the sometimes uncomfortable relationship between trendsetting art, music, and literature and public perception. Commercial Appeal contributor Andria Lisle, rapper Al Kapone, and Highway 61 radio host Scott Barretta kick things off on March 5th at 6 p.m with a discussion about audience reactions to blues and hip-hop music.
"Contempt for the New" lecture, Thursday, March 5th, 6 p.m. at the Memphis Brooks Museum of art, 1934 Poplar. the Exhibition will be on display at The Brooks through July 5th. Call 544-6200 for more information.