Charlotte, NC (January 9, 2020): The Mint Museum is pleased to announce its upcoming presentation of Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries, opening February 9, 2020 at Mint Museum Randolph.
The exhibition will feature more than 100 works of art on loan from across the U.S., as well as England, and will focus exclusively on black basalt sculpture—the first show of its kind to do so. Classic Black will showcase works ranging from life-size portrait busts to fanciful vases, dynamic statues of mythological heroes to portrait medallions in low relief.
The exhibition features loans from major museums in the United States and England such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Birmingham Museum of Art, as well as important, one-of-a-kind objects from notable private collections in America, some of which are making their public debut.
One noteworthy aspect of the show is its presentation: a completely groundbreaking, contemporary treatment. With the help of the prominent Charlotte muralist and street artist known as “Owl,” each of the exhibition rooms will feature a specially commissioned graphic mural in striking, sunset hues. The bright colors and graphic patterns will challenge visitors’ expectations and enliven the historical pieces, making them more relevant to the modern viewer. And while completely unconventional, the design aesthetic nevertheless recalls 18th-century architecture and interior design, reinterpreting it for the modern-day audience.
And it’s a presentation that Wedgwood himself — as a master marketer of luxury, with an eye for presentation — would likely approve of, says Brian Gallagher, Curator of Decorative Arts at The Mint Museum. “Wedgwood would have never wanted his works to sit on a putty-colored pedestal, against a putty-colored wall,” says Gallagher.
Classic Black is also the Mint’s first exhibition dedicated completely to sculpture. And because the museum is known for its British ceramics collection, it’s appropriate that its first sculpture show draws from an aspect of that collection.
“Classic Black and its remarkable presentation will break every mold,” says The Mint Museum’s President and CEO Todd A. Herman, PhD. “And we believe it will attract longtime Wedgwood enthusiasts as well as a new audience keen on seeing the marriage of 18th-century pieces with 21st-century mural art.”
About one-third of the works on view in Classic Blackare based directly on marble and bronze sculptures from the classical world. Other objects in the exhibition derive from works of art created in later centuries by some of the great figures in European art history, including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by D. Giles Limited, London, which will include extended object entries and introductory essays contributed by Robin Emmerson, Gaye Blake-Roberts, Nancy Ramage, and MG Sullivan.
The exhibition was made possible with generous support from presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Private Bank.
“This is not your grandmother’s Wedgwood,” says Jay Everette, Officer of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “Wells Fargo’s Foundation decided to serve as presenting sponsor of the exhibition as part of its focus on arts, history, culture and heritage community grants. We were intrigued by the compelling contrast of past and present. We hope it allows viewers to see Wedgwood’s story, works and legacy in a different light.”
Additional support was provided by Moore & Van Allen and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The Exhibition catalogue was fully funded by the Delhom Service League and an anonymous patron.
About The Mint Museum
Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations—Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown on South Tryon Street—the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.