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Edwards Harris Center
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Baroque to Bling! High Art and Low from the Collection of Donna MacMillan

March 4th – October 16th, 2016
Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, The Galen

Baroque to Bling explores a distinct world of bold fine art, fashion, and design objects -- all linked by the eye of a spirited collector, Donna MacMillan. Drawn from museum’s gifts and loans from MacMillan’s exuberant collection, the exhibition shows how artists incorporate embellishment and indulge in excess in their contemporary practice. From cutting-edge art to lavish jewelry, the works offer contemporary interpretations of the baroque, a term that brings to mind lavishly ornamental design, elaborate aesthetics, and the theatrical. 

Carlos Betancourt, Re-collections X, 2010, c-print mounted on Plexiglas, collection of Donna MacMillan, © Carlos Betancourt
Coreen Cordova, Out of Africa, 2013, sterling silver, antique ivory bone, horn and coral, collection of Donna MacMillan
Gavin Turk, Somewhere between Sleeping on the Streets and the Silver Clouds, 2005, chrome plated and polished bronze, promised gift of Donna and Cargill MacMillan, Jr., © Gavin Turk
Thea Tolsma, Dona Micaela, 2001, rubber inner tube, collection of Donna MacMillan, © Thea Tolsma
Matt Eskuche, AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS, 2011, flame-worked and mirror glass with wood table, collection of Donna MacMillan, © Matt Eskuche

Baroque to Bling explores a distinct world of bold fine art, fashion, and design objects -- all linked by the eye of a spirited collector, Donna MacMillan. Drawn from museum’s gifts and loans from MacMillan’s exuberant collection, the exhibition shows how artists incorporate embellishment and indulge in excess in their contemporary practice. From cutting-edge art to lavish jewelry, the works offer contemporary interpretations of the baroque, a term that brings to mind lavishly ornamental design, elaborate aesthetics, and the theatrical. 

If the baroque suggests excess, bling is that final, often glittery, enhancement that brings a sense of wonder to the viewer. MacMillan’s collecting sensibility emphasizes a keen awareness of the joyful play between structure and surface, form and finish, glitter and polish, and ultimately -- resonance and wonder. The exhibition includes objects that both engage the mind and delight the viewer while emphasizing the rich decorative practices that artists undertake today.

Indeed, many artists, such as Ryan McGinness and Tim Horn, directly turn to the histories and sensibilities of European decorative arts from heraldic symbols to baroque approaches to design. Others, such as Ann Hamilton’s intricate hair-embroidered necklace, take the heavily ornamental approach of the centuries-old baroque era to grotesque heights.

The surface attraction of bling seduces the eye in chromed dishware by Matt Eskuche, polished and armored adornments by Giuseppe Zanotti, a singularly bold LED sign-statement by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and intricately beaded necklaces and earrings from Europe and Africa. Still others employ a meticulous, obsessive, and arguably excessive approach to the construction and finish of their forms. The resulting works engage in a range of subjects, from social commentary on upcycling as seen in the Campana brothers’ chair design, the discomfiting heightening of vernacular objects through the aesthetic codes of luxury as seen in work by Jeff Koons, to formal interactions of jewel-like shine with raw structures, as seen in Ernesto Neto’s hanging sculpture. From the highly layered photo collage by Vik Muniz, to the gilded explosiveness of Takuru Kuwata’s ceramics and bold jewelry designs that meld unusual materials into sculptural forms, the works in this exhibition introduce audiences to a collection full of aesthetic drama that pushes the limits of excess.

This exhibition is organized by Palm Springs Art Museum.

Exhibition Season Sponsors: Dorothy C. Meyerman and Marion & Bob Rosenthal