Current Exhibitions

  • Cats and Quotes

    Start: Jan 15, 2015
    End: Jan 3, 2016
    Moss Mezzanine

    And metaphors like cats behind your smile,
    Each one wound up to purr,
    Each one a pride,
    Each one a fine gold beast you've hid inside
    -Ray Bradbury  

    Cats—whether fierce wild predators or cuddly domestic pets—have fascinated artists throughout history. This exhibition features felines from a variety of periods, offering a wonderful chance to see how different artists have depicted cats and their varied relationships with human beings over time. Whether their approach is abstracted or highly realistic, artists have strived to capture their ever-changing moods: ferocity, sensuality, self-satisfaction, aloofness, and playfulness. To emphasize the importance of cats to humans, and their constant appearance in our lives, these paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and prints have been paired with famous quotes about felines. Both the art works and the quotes reflect our love and admiration for these complicated, independent, clever, and mysterious creatures.  

    Curated by Stanton Thomas, Ph.D., Curator of European & Decorative Art

    American, B. 1956
    UNTITLED, 1984
    Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, MEMPHIS, TN; ANONYMOUS GIFT  84.4

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  • Surreal Kingdoms

    Start: Jun 6, 2015
    End: Nov 1, 2015
    Brooks Museum

    Kenneth Wayne Alexander II’s Kingdom series depicts different universes that he has seen through vivid dreams and imagination. In this exhibition of 14 works on digital rotation, color and light stream through open eyes, ears, and mouths, while patterns swirl to an electronic soundtrack created by the artist, also a renowned local hip hop producer. To see more of his work, search #KennyWayneArts on Instagram.

    Kenneth Alexander, American, b. 1988
    Neighboring Art Kingdom
    Acrylic/Digital Collage
    Collection of the artist

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  • Buggin' & Shruggin: A Glitched History of Gaming Culture

    Start: Jun 20, 2015
    End: Mar 6, 2016
    This gallery is undergoing renovations. This exhibition will reopen Saturday, October 10.

    What happens when you offer a talented, visionary muralist over 981 square feet of blank white walls, as much paint as he needs, and the request that he paint anything he wants about video games? You get Michael Roy’s Buggin & Shruggin: A Glitched History of Gaming Culture. That is, you get a glorious, monumental mural of gaming characters in pulsating colors, all interwoven with game controls and pixelated backdrops. Many of the figures are familiar; who doesn’t recognize an Angry Bird or a Mutant Ninja Turtle? But Roy (better known as Birdcap Shruggin) has freed these characters from their crisp, glowing digital settings and—along with artists Brandon Marshall and Lance Turner—painted them directly on the museum’s walls. And here, the characters take on new lives. Pacman for instance, is transformed into a nightmarish hybrid of his benevolent self and Xipe Totec, Aztec god of death and rebirth, while Bart Simpson has morphed into a disjointed, three-eyed mega-brat.

    *This gallery is undergoing renovations and is currently closed. This exhibition will reopen Saturday, October 10, 2015.*

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  • William Eggleston & Ernest C. Withers in Conversation

    Start: Sep 11, 2015
    End: Jan 3, 2016
    Chandler Gallery

    The Brooks has long celebrated the accomplishments of William Eggleston (b. 1939) and Ernest C. Withers (1922-2007). Eggleston is represented in the collection by 279 photographs, the first of which were acquired in 1976 and exhibited in 1977. Withers is represented by 178 photographs the first of which were acquired in 1986 and exhibited in 1987. As part of the museum’s upcoming centennial celebration, many programming changes are underway including a shift from exhibiting a single photograph by each artist in the rotunda to dedicating the Chandler Gallery to the presentation of their artistic vision. Because works on paper are fragile and are subject to deterioration if exposed to light for great lengths of time, the gallery will be rotated frequently, allowing visitors an excellent opportunity to become more familiar with each photographer’s output.

    Although their practices are dramatically different—Eggleston is a fine art photographer renowned for his work in color and Withers was a photojournalist who worked primarily in black and white—they represent two important strains within photography. Eggleston’s image a of wisteria-covered pickup truck is highly evocative of the South while his shot of the inside of a freezer begs the question of what is appropriate subject matter for photography. Withers captured events that powerfully defined the Civil Rights Movement such as Overton Park Zoo (1950s), in which he tellingly focused his lens on the Memphis Park Commission sign announcing “NO WHITE PEOPLE ALLOWED IN THE ZOO TODAY.” Withers is also known for his coverage of the Memphis music scene as for example his portrait of Al Green from the 1970s. Eggleston and Withers are two protean artists who are part of the history of Memphis, the Brooks, and the history of art, making this exhibition, which brings them and museum visitors into an extended conversation, extremely appropriate.

    Ernest C. Withers
    American, 1922 - 2007
    Overton Park Zoo, Memphis, 1950s
    Gelatin silver print, printed from original negative in 1999
    Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase with funds provided by Ernest and Dorothy Withers, Panopticon Gallery, Inc., Waltham, MA, Landon and Carol Butler, The Deupree Family Foundation, and The Turley Foundation 2005.3.14
    © Estate of the artist

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  • Clare Leighton and Thomas W. Nason: Common Threads

    Start: Sep 19, 2015
    End: Mar 13, 2016
    Brooks Museum

    Clare Leighton (1901-1989) and Thomas W. Nason (1884-1960), began their careers as printmakers and illustrators in the early 20th century, when book illustration was still experiencing a revival due to the Arts and Crafts movement. Masters in the medium of wood engraving, each developed a distinct style that was exceptional in expressing the simplicity and integrity of rural subjects. This exhibition explores the common threads found in their work in light of each artist’s personal approach to the subject.   

    Clare Leighton
    American (b. England), 1901 - 1989
    Sowing: April (1932) illustration for The Farmer's Year; A Calender of English Husbandry, 1933
    Wood engraving, 19/60
    Brooks Memorial Art Gallery purchase 41.10
    © Estate of the artist

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  • Ofrendas: Student-made Altars

    Start: Oct 3, 2015
    End: Nov 15, 2015
    Brooks Museum - Education Gallery

    Honoring the spirits of the deceased, El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is celebrated annually in Mexico, the United States, and Latin American countries on November 1st and 2nd. On these special days, it is believed that the souls of the dead come back to commune with the living. Families prepare for their loved ones’ return by creating ofrendas, or altars, adorned with photographs of the deceased, candles, flowers, and colorful papel picado, in their homes. The altars can also include the favorite foods and drink of the deceased and other items enjoyed during his or her lifetime. In addition to the altars, families celebrate by visiting cemeteries to adorn the graves of loved ones and celebrate their lives with dancing, feasting, and music.

    In conjunction with the Brooks’ celebration of El Dia de los Muertos, the museum invites students at local schools to create altars in memory of people who have died and are important to the students. Working together with their teachers and peers, the students create altars in memory of those who have passed.

    If you would like to learn more about this holiday, you can find it here.

    Click here to see more photos.

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