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July 18, 2024

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Picasso and More Coming to Frist Art Museum in 2021

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Frist is proud to welcome the works of Pablo Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, American Art Deco, Kara WalkerΒ and More.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Frist Art Museum is proud to announce its 2021 schedule of exhibitions.

In the Ingram Gallery, the year begins with Picasso. Figures, an exhibition from the Musée national Picasso-Paris that offers an in-depth look at Pablo Picasso’s career-long fascination with the human body. Featuring paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, Picasso. Figures will make its sole U.S. appearance at the Frist. In the summer, Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style spans Mackintosh’s life (1868–1928) and places his work in the context of his predecessors, contemporaries, patrons, and friends in the industrial city of Glasgow, Scotland. Appropriately displayed within the Frist’s own art deco building and capping off the museum’s 20th anniversary year, American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939 focuses on an international style that manifested stateside in decorative arts, fine arts, architecture, and design during the 1920s and 1930s.

In the Upper-Level Galleries, Creating the American West in Art presents an opportunity to reexamine complex and evolving perceptions of the American West through works by Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran, Maynard Dixon, and others. Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick explores the painful legacy of slavery, exploitation, abuse, injustice, racism, and sexism in works created between 1994 and 2019 that offer a broad overview of the artist’s career and demonstrates her fluency in a diverse range of media.

Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City examines the distinctive illuminated manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures made from 1250 to 1400 in the northern Italian city of Bologna, home to the oldest university in Europe.

In the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, the Frist presents a large-scale installation and other works by Liliana Porter, who is renowned for arranging discarded objects to form narratives that are philosophically provocative, and the text-based works of Bethany Collins, who examines the historic intersection of language and racism in her multimedia practice.

In the Conte Community Arts Gallery, the year begins with A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum, an exhibition that celebrates the legacy of the historic building that houses the Frist. The online initiative N2020: Community Reflections will showcase works created in response to the historic events that occurred in 2020 by Nashville photographers, videographers, dancers, and spoken word artists.


The Frist Art Museum’s 2021 Schedule of Exhibitions

A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum
January 8, 2021–January 9, 2022
Conte Community Arts Gallery

Commemorating the Frist Art Museum’s 20th anniversary, this reimagined exhibition highlights the landmark building’s role as a civic institution, from its creation as Nashville’s main post office in 1934 to its reopening as a museum on April 8, 2001. Through photos, video, and interviews, guests will learn about the building’s distinctive architectural styles—“starved” or “stripped” classicism and art deco—as well as how historical events affected the construction and function of the post office. The exhibition will also address how buildings can be repurposed, making connections with American Art Deco: Designing for the People, which will be on view in the Ingram Gallery from October 8, 2021, through January 2, 2022. A 20th anniversary edition of the exhibition catalogue will be available in the Frist’s gift shop.

Picasso. Figures
February 5
–May 2, 2021
Ingram Gallery

Picasso. Figures, an exhibition from the incomparable collection of the Musée national Picasso-Paris, offers an in-depth look at Pablo Picasso’s career-long fascination with the human body and figuration as a means of expressing a range of subjects and emotions, from love to conflict. Featuring approximately 75 paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, Picasso. Figures will make its sole U.S. appearance at the Frist. Highlights of the exhibition include masterpieces from Picasso’s various styles and periods, as well as more intimate works that communicate his spirit of innovation and even playfulness.

The works in Picasso. Figures range from geometric abstractions of the human body to emotionally charged depictions of family, friends, and lovers, showing Picasso’s stylistic breadth and ingenuity. The exhibition begins with portraits of women created throughout Picasso’s career, offering a panoramic summary of his wide-ranging creativity while providing glimpses of his tumultuous relationships with his wives, mistresses, muses and models. The focus will then shift to Picasso’s renowned cubist period of the early 20th century. Of particular interest are works that demonstrate the powerful influence of African and Iberian art on this radical style, in which perceptions of time, space, and reality are altered in ways that came to embody the ideal of artistic freedom in 20th century art. Continuing through the exhibition, guests will see paintings, sculptures, and works on paper showing Picasso’s experiments with a range of styles, including surrealism, neoclassicism, and expressionism. Picasso. Figures culminates in late works, characterized by vivid colors, exuberant brushstrokes, and playful twists on the Old Masters, showing that Picasso’s boundless desire to reinvent painting continued until the end of his life.

Picasso. Figures is organized in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso-Paris. It was conceived and organized by Emilia Philippot, curator, and François Dareau, associate curator, Musée national Picasso-Paris.

Liliana Porter: Man with Axe and Other Stories
February 5–May 2, 2021
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

Argentina-born artist Liliana Porter’s provocative arrangements of objects and toys tell stories that are at once psychologically charged and slyly humorous. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Man with Axe, features a tiny plastic figure of an axe-wielding man who appears to have demolished an array of items, from dollhouse furniture to large vases, clocks, and even a full-size piano. This trail of destruction signals both the entropic effects of time and the collapse of historical progress that can be caused by a single agent of chaos. In Man with Axe, Porter (b. 1941) asks big questions: Who are we? What do we do? What’s it about?


N2020: Community Reflections
Launching March 3, 2021 on

This online initiative will showcase creative expressions made by an array of Nashville artists in response to the historic events that occurred in 2020. Guest curator and North Nashville native Woke3 has collaborated with photographers, videographers, dancers, and spoken word artists within his community to reflect on the destruction of the March 3 tornado, the impact of COVID-19, and the urgent calls for racial justice. Together, the components of N2020 offer insight into their experiences, both individually and collectively, and encourage viewers to recognize our commonalities and our differences. By going within and thinking introspectively, we can help build a thriving, equitable, and sustainable society.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum with guest curator Woke3


Creating the American West in Art
March 5–June 27, 2021
Upper-Level Galleries

The American West is an idea and a process as much as it is a location. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, depictions of the people, landscapes, and wildlife of the West fostered a sense of American identity that was rooted in a pioneering spirit of adventure and opportunity. Through nearly 80 paintings and sculptures ranging in date from 1822 to 1946, made by such artists as Frederic Remington, C. M. Russell, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, E. Irving Couse, John Sloan, and Maynard Dixon, this exhibition explores the nuances of a complex American West, including its often-challenging history, especially in relation to Indigenous people, and its vibrant cultural and artistic diversity.

Organized by the Denver Art Museum

Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style
June 18–September 12, 2021
Ingram Gallery

At the end of the 19th century, the Glasgow Style emerged as the major manifestation of Art Nouveau in Britain. This exhibition showcases Charles Rennie Mackintosh—the greatest exponent of the Glasgow Style—as an architect, designer, and artist, and contextualizes his production within a larger circle of designers and craftspeople in the major Scottish city. Mackintosh worked most closely with his wife, Margaret Macdonald; Margaret’s sister, Frances Macdonald; and Frances’ husband, James Herbert McNair. They met as students at the progressive Glasgow School of Art in 1892 and together were known as The Four.

Combining influences from the Arts and Crafts movement, Celtic Revival, and Japonism, Glasgow artists created their own modern design aesthetic, synonymous with sleek lines and emphatic geometries expressed in a wide range of materials. The exhibition presents 165 works of fine and decorative art, including architectural drawings, books, ceramics, furniture, posters, textiles, and watercolors, drawn from Glasgow’s most significant public and private collections.

Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style is a touring exhibition co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts. Support for the US national tour is provided by the Dr. Lee MacCormick Edwards Charitable Foundation.

Bethany Collins: Evensong
June 18–September 12, 2021
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

Chicago-based artist Bethany Collins (b. 1984) explores the intersection of language and race in her conceptually driven practice. She alters existing documents—such as the daily Birmingham News from 1963 or the U.S. Department of Justice’s report on the Ferguson, Missouri, police department—to critique the truthfulness and completeness of the official record. Since 2016, Collins has also examined translations of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, an ancient text of exile and homecoming, and familiarity with and estrangement from one’s homeland.

At the Frist, a new artist book will feature 100 versions of “The Star Spangled Banner,” written from the 18th to the 21st centuries in support of specific political or social causes—from temperance and suffrage to abolition and even the Confederacy. The multiple reinterpretations of this song—composed in 1814 by Francis Scott Key and the U.S. national anthem since 1931—will offer opportunities for reflection on patriotism, belonging, and individual position within national identity.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick
From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

July 23–October 10, 2021
Upper-Level Galleries

A leading artist of her generation, Kara Walker (b. 1969) works in a range of mediums, including prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, film, and the large-scale silhouette cutouts for which she is perhaps most recognized. Her powerful and provocative images employ contradictions to critique the painful legacies of slavery, sexism, violence, imperialism, and other power structures, including those in the history and hierarchies of art and contemporary culture. This exhibition offers a broad overview of her career through more than 80 works from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, premier collectors of works on paper in the United States. Some highlights of the exhibition are the complete Emancipation Approximation series and images from the Porgy & Bess series. Walker’s process involves extensive research in history, literature, art history, and popular culture. Intentionally unsentimental and ambiguous, the works can be disturbing yet also humorous, always exploring the irreconcilable inconsistencies that mirror the human condition. This is Walker’s first solo exhibition at the Frist Art Museum; her work Camptown Ladies appeared in our presentation of 30 Americans in 2013–14. Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards and Nashville poet Ciona Rouse will serve as co-curators. In addition to her curatorial responsibilities, Rouse will compose original poems inspired by Walker’s works. She and Edwards will collaborate with educator Meagan Rust to plan programs related to the exhibition.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939
October 8, 2021–January 2, 2022
Ingram Gallery

Appropriately presented within the Frist’s own art deco interior during the museum’s 20th anniversary year, this exhibition offers an in-depth examination of an international style that manifested stateside in decorative arts, fine arts, architecture, and design during the 1920s and 1930s. Featuring approximately 100 objects, American Art Deco explores the movement between 1918 and 1939 and highlights not only the glamour and optimism of the 1920s, but also the impact of the Great Depression in the 1930s. An array of works, from a stunning 1925 René Lalique glass vase to a 1930s Grant Wood painting of a picturesque Iowa farm town, will be displayed in vignettes alongside immersive elements, including jazz music, Hollywood film clips, and custom interactives.

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska


Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City
November 5, 2021–January 30, 2022
Upper-Level Galleries

This is the first museum exhibition in the United States to focus on medieval art made in Bologna. Home to the oldest university in Europe, this northern Italian city fostered a unique artistic culture at the end of the Middle Ages. With its large population of sophisticated readers, Bologna became the preeminent center of manuscript production south of the Alps, and it helped bring about a revolution in the medieval book trade. Manuscripts circulated in a thriving market of scribes, illuminators, booksellers, and customers operating mostly outside traditional monastic scriptoria. The university initially specialized in law, and many law books were illuminated in Bologna with brightly colored scenes. Professors enjoyed high social status and were buried in impressive stone tombs carved with classroom scenes.

The approximately 65 objects in the exhibition span from 1250 to 1400, from the first great flowering of manuscript illumination in Bologna to the beginnings of the construction and decoration of the ambitious Basilica of San Petronio in the city’s Piazza Maggiore.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with seven essays and, while the artworks are on view, the Frist Art Museum will host the Andrew Ladis Trecento Conference, a biannual event that brings together historians of medieval and Renaissance art from around the world.

About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.