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Current Exhibitions

Robert Parke-Harrison, Departure, 1997. Photogravure with beeswax.
  Heavenly Bodies
February 23 - May 25, 2014

The oft-unseen planet which we inhabit and the vast universe, which is becoming more visible to us, is explored in the exhibition titled Heavenly Bodies. From humankind's earliest beginnings, few have gazed at a starry night and not been struck with a profound sense of awe at the macrocosm: the universe and its planets, meteors, blazing comets and falling stars. The Hubble telescope and ever-more-powerful observatories have only increased the wonder, revealing galaxies and constellations previously impossible to see. Conversely, small wonders of the microcosm are captured by visionary photographers who see a galaxy in an apple or the perfect architecture of a snowflake.

This exhibition of over sixty images, largely drawn from the permanent collection, continues the exploration of the intersections of art and science, begun in 1967 when the Santa Barbara Museum of Art presented Once Invisible. That presentation, organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, revealed a once-invisible world made observable by a combination of advancing technologies and artistic visions. Heavenly Bodies includes images of stellar constellations, solar eclipses, streaking comets, and the full moon along with photographs of the ordinary made extraordinary—blackboards and bacteria, ferns and bird swarms, salt ponds and soap bubbles.

As scientists continue to unravel the wonders of the universe, artists, ever the antennae of the human race, strive to assimilate and communicate the newly revealed mysteries while making visible the mysteries in their midst.


Alice Aycock, Rock, Paper, Scissors (India '07), 2010. Watercolor and ink on paper. Miami Art Museum, Gift of Jerry Lindzon.


Alice Aycock Drawings: Some Stories Are Worth Repeating
January 26 – April 20, 2014

This exhibition is the first comprehensive exploration of this vital aspect of the renowned sculptor’s creative process. Partnering with the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara, this two-venue exhibition traces Alice Aycock’s career from 1971 to the present, highlighting the major themes that have governed her artistic practice. While Aycock is best known for her large-scale installations and outdoor sculptures, her drawings capture the full range of her ideas and sources.

Consisting of approximately 100 works, the exhibition will be presented in two parts. The works at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (January 26 – April 20), cover the years 1984 to the present, when Aycock developed an increasingly elaborate visual vocabulary, drawing upon a multitude of sources and facilitated in part by the use of computer programs. The works on view at the AD&A Museum (January 25 - April 19) focus on the years 1971–1984, including detailed architectural drawings, sculptural maquettes, and photo documentation for both realized and imagined architectural projects.

This exhibition was organized by the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York. It is accompanied by a 160-page hardcover catalogue with an essay by Jonathan Fineberg.


Michelle Stuart, Starchart Constellations, 1992. Wanas Sculpture Park and Castle, Knislinge, Sweden. Fiberglass columns, miniature lighting systems; installed in a 13th-century barn. 2013 © Michelle Stuart, Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.


Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature
January 26 – May 4, 2014

Spanning the period from the late 1960s to the present day, this exhibition presents the work of an artist who radically combined site-specific earthworks with the medium of drawing. Michelle Stuart has become internationally known for a rich and diverse body of work engendered by her lifelong interest in the natural world and the cosmos. Working in drawing, sculpture, photography, video, installation, and site-specific earthworks, she has pursued a subtle and responsive dialogue with nature, distinct from the epic gestures of contemporaneous Land Art. Her engagement with landscape and the natural environment, her use of unconventional, humble materials, and her passion for archaeology and collecting permeate her work.

Stuart is best known for her early monumental drawings made outdoors, where rolls of paper were smashed with rocks, stroked with earth, or rubbed with graphite until the characteristics of a given site became ingrained in their surfaces. Other works in the exhibition respond to the Nazca Lines and Mexican petroglyphs—pushing our understanding of drawing beyond the page. Included are expansive maps of real and imaginary landscapes form the backdrop to a selection of sculptural works and hand-made books. The exhibition concludes with Stuart’s recent photographic grids, expansive works which encapsulate the potent blend of “real history, imaginative history and natural history” that has characterized her work.

Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature is the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work in the United States since 1998, and only the second to be presented in the west. The exhibition is organized and toured by the Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham, UK. It is accompanied by a 160-page hardcover catalogue with essays by Anna Lovatt, Jane McFadden, and Nancy Princenthal; and an interview with the artist by Julie Joyce.


Unknown artist, Praises to the Mother of God, ca. 1550-1600. Egg tempera on wood, silver revetment. SBMA, Anonymous Gift.
  Religious Images of the Christian East
November 27, 2013 – March 16, 2014

Portraits of Jesus Christ, His mother and His saints invoke the presence of God, to whom every Christian prayer is addressed. Before the Reformation, such images were habitually used by believers all over Europe, both in church and in private. The custom of painting them on wood originated in present-day Egypt, Syria and Turkey, later spreading from there to Italy and further north. Orthodox Christians in Greece, Russia and elsewhere refer to such paintings as icons. In order to make the holy figures easily recognizable, icons usually repeat familiar compositions on the basis of earlier models. Some such models are supposedly derived from authentic, miraculously produced portraits of Christ. Others go back to images that have frequently helped those who prayed in front of them. The examples in Religious Images of the Christian East illustrate the traditionalism of icon painting: even though they were made in the early modern and modern periods, ca. 1500-1900, their artistic style does not differ greatly from that of fourteenth-century Italian panel painting, an examples of which is also exhibited.

This exhibition is guest curated by Georgi R. Parpulov. Dr. Parpulov received his M.A. in History from Sofia University and his Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Chicago. He was formerly a senior research fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, as well as a curatorial fellow at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, where he worked on the exhibition Sacred Arts and City Life: The Glory of Medieval Novgorod (2005).

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Edgar Degas, Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. Michael Armand Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation.
  Degas to Chagall: Important Loans from The Armand Hammer Foundation and the Collection of Michael Armand Hammer

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is delighted to present a selection of important paintings that are on extended loan by The Armand Hammer Foundation and augmented by several works from the private collection of Michael Armand Hammer. The mandate of the Foundation is to share an extraordinary collection of works bequeathed by its founder with the public by lending to museums throughout the country.

The paintings on view from The Armand Hammer Foundation represent just a small fraction of the ravishing collection put together by Dr. Armand Hammer (1898-1990), perhaps best known for the extraordinary works of art he donated to his namesake institution, the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1965 through 1990. These works complement seamlessly our Museum's rich holdings in the areas of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, installed in the contiguous Ridley-Tree Gallery. Artists represented include Ivan Aivazovsky, Pierre Bonnard, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Henri Fantin-Latour, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, and Auguste Renoir.

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