SAM unveils 2014-2015 exhibitions

  • Written by Shannon Michael Features Writer

Fast Bird 2011Photo by Kenji Nagai. Haida artist Robert Davidson created “Fast Bird” in 2011. It is a silkscreen print and is part of the exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse which opened this past weekend and will run through February 16, 2014. In a visually stunning PowerPoint presentation to the media recently, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) unveiled its 2014-2015 exhibition plans for SAM, the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park along Seattle’s waterfront.

Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture announced the museum would focus on the depth of its established collection of art in presenting new exhibitions. 

Upcoming exhibitions planned for the Seattle Art Museum include:

Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse

November 16, 2013 - February 16, 2014

This is the first major U.S. exhibition of work by Haida artist, Robert Davidson, who has been pivotal in the revitalization of Northwest Coast Native art.

Davidson’s modernist twist on traditional art is explored in boldly minimalist easel paintings, graphic work and sculpture. Complementing Davidson’s work are pieces of historic Haida art, including key pieces by Davidson’s ancestors, which are part of SAM’s holdings. The exhibition will feature 45 paintings, sculptures and prints created since 2005 by Davidson, as well as works from earlier years that capture the trajectory of Davidson’s impulse towards abstraction.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

December 13, 2013 - June 22, 2014

LaToya Ruby Frazier is a photographer and media artist whose practice emphasizes postmodern conditions, class and capitalism while investigating issues of propaganda, politics and the importance of subjectivity.

Frazier is the winner of the 2013 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize which is awarded bi-annually to an early career black artist who has been producing work for less than 10 years.

Miró: The Experience of Seeing

February 13, 2014 - May 25, 2014

One of the great innovators of 20th-century art in Europe, Joan Miró was briefly aligned with the Surrealists in the late 1920s in Paris where he was trained in the shadow of Pablo Picasso, and went on to create a striking pictorial and sculptural universe throughout his six-decade career. This unique exhibition brings together some 50 paintings and sculptures made in the period between 1963 and 1981 by the Spanish artist while he lived in Mallorca, Spain. His sculptures drew inspiration from found objects, building structures from salvaged wood, discarded hardware or household implements and then casting them in bronze.

It is Miró’s dialogue between his paintings and sculptures using different forms of media that this exhibition will explore.

Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical

June 19, 2014 – September 7, 2014

Few regions of the U.S. produced such a distinctive group of artists with such a particular view on the modern world as did the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s and 1940s. SAM is now the major repository of work by the highly acclaimed, closely connected, but still little understood group of artists, dominated by painters Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Leo Kenney, Paul Horiuchi, and George Tsutakawa and by sculptor Phil McCracken.

"These artists did not look to Europe for inspiration but to Asia," Ishikawa explained.

This exhibition and accompanying book will be the museum’s first comprehensive overview of this important collection and the first museum publication to explain the intertwined histories of the Northwest School and SAM.

City Dwellers: Contemporary Art

from India

August 30, 2014 – February 15, 2015

Photography and sculpture has emerged as an especially important tool for artists in India, and this exhibition provides an insider’s view of urban life in India in all its complexity and contradiction.

Pulling from SAM’s art collection and that of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the roughly 15 artists in this exhibition pay tribute to the private and public spheres of family, history, art and popular culture, but also introduce elements of irony, introspection and critique.

Pop Departures

October 9, 2014 – January 11, 2015

This exhibition brings together key works by the central figures that defined American Pop art in the 1960s such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann. It is with American Pop art that everyday life, notably the image worlds of advertisement and consumer society, becomes the main artistic focus.

To show the continued engagement with some of the themes arising from Pop art – such as the staging of objects of consumption, the allure of celebrity culture, and the pivotal role of media imagery – this exhibition will chart connections to the 1980s and the 2000s, with work by major contemporary artists for whom Pop art was an inspiration, a central point of departure or a vehicle for critique.

Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art

February 12, 2015 –

May 17, 2015

Drawn from the celebrated Native American art collection of Charles and Valerie Diker, this exhibition will feature about 110 masterworks representing tribes across the North American continent.

This superb collection is renowned as one of the largest, most comprehensive, and most exquisite collections of Native American art in private hands. This exhibition will showcase a number of recent acquisitions never seen before by the public, and will be the first traveling exhibition culled from this collection.

Disguise and Contemporary

African Art

June 18, 2015 – September 6, 2015

This groundbreaking exhibition will consider the past, present and future of disguise. The exhibition will include 50 masks and 10 costumes from SAM’s African art collection and about 100 objects on loan.

Disguise will take an in-depth look at 10 contemporary artists whose work has a distinctive way of addressing the subject. Select artists will participate in site-specific installations and performances.

Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art

October 1, 2015 – January 3, 2016

This collection is comprised of extraordinary paintings considered to be the jewels of one of the finest collections of French Impressionism in the world.

The exhibition will feature 71 intimately scaled paintings by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masters, including Renoir, Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, van Gogh, and more.

This will be the first time the beloved collection has gone on tour and only because the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art will be closed for renovation.

S. F. B. Morse, Gallery of the Louvre

October 1, 2015 – January 10, 2016

Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic telegraph – and for "Morse" code – but he began his career as a painter and rose to the presidency of the National Academy of Design in New York. The monumental "Gallery of the Louvre" is his masterwork.

At SAM, the painting will be shown by itself in an expansive gallery as the kind of grand picture public display that Morse himself would have created in 1833.

Meanwhile, at the Asian Art Museum, Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945 is scheduled to open on May 10, 2014, running through October 19, 2014.

Art Deco, a 20th century style that came to worldwide prominence in the interwar period, left its mark on almost every medium of visual arts. Japanese artists, designers, and consumers cultivated their own version of Art Deco, which was perceived as modern and Western.

This is the first exhibition outside Japan to focus on Japanese Art Deco from 1920 to 1945. It will include about 200 works from the collection of Robert and Mary Levenson of Florida.

The final preview of upcoming events was the announcement of a monumental addition to the Olympic Sculpture Park.  "Echo," a 46-foot sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa will be installed in 2014 along the shoreline of the sculpture park overlooking Puget Sound and towards Mount Olympus.

"Echo" has been given to the Seattle Art Museum from the collection of Barney A. Ebsworth. It was originally commissioned by the Madison Park Association in New York and installed at Madison Square Garden Park in 2011 to great acclaim.For updated information, visit

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