Kabuki Modern

When: Nov 10, 2020 – Jun 27, 2021
Where: Museum of Art, Chao Center for Asian Art

Actors of kabuki, Japan’s distinctive form of popular theater, were superstars between the 17th and early 20th centuries, and continue to command cultural and celebrity status today. Their fame was fueled by mass-produced woodblock-printed actor portraits, or yakusha-e, that were sold as affordable mementos of the theater experience, and by bespoke paintings for wealthy patrons.

As Japan modernized from the late 19th century, theaters adapted their repertoire to cater to shifting tastes and social mores. New stories and foreign ideas reinvigorated kabuki and attracted diverse audiences and patronage. In response to these developments and the rise of photography, publishers, print designers and painters updated their stylistic and technical approaches to yakusha-e, thereby propelling the genre into the modern era.

Kabuki Modern presents superb recent acquisitions of kabuki imagery created between 1868 and the 1950s. Visitors will see works by Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900), Yamamura Kōka (Toyonari, 1885–1942), and Natori Shunsen (1886–1960) — the foremost print artists of their time. Also on view is a stunning painting by Murakami Michiho (1899–1938) that recently returned to the Museum following conservation treatment. These works of art capture the dynamic poses, elaborate stage make-up, and sumptuous costumes that have enthralled audiences for over 400 years.


For Real This Time

When: Dec 20, 2020- April 11, 2021
Where: Museum of Art, Monda Gallery

During this extraordinary time, video has become the key medium contributing to the public sphere. Video, often captured on cellphones and shared through social media, exposes social justice issues and matters of civic life to a global audience. For Real This Time features video-based works that examine the current state of the American society and pose uncomfortable yet vital questions about personal and collective attitudes towards issues of race and inequality.

Presented in a sequence of individual screenings, each work brings to light narratives of systematic racism and offers a unique inquiry that evokes historical exchange to illustrate the expansiveness of the issues affecting Black, Indigenous and People of Color today. For Real This Time is a space for deeper reflection on the common experience of resilience across cultures in order to create a shift in our psyches that inspires tangible and effective change. Artists featured include: Deanna Bowen, Allison Janae Hamilton, John Sims, Cauleen Smith, Martine Syms, Kara Walker, and Bear Witness,

Frans Hals: Detecting a Decade

When: Feb 14, 2021 – May 16, 2021
Where: Museum of Art, Searing Galleries

The Ringling’s portrait of Pieter Jacobsz. Olycan, by the Dutch Baroque master Frans Hals (1582/83 - 1666), is one of the museum’s treasures. Renowned in his own day for his lively brushwork and uncanny ability to capture the vitality of his sitters, Hals continues to be a favorite among art lovers, collectors, and artists alike. In this exhibition, organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, The Ringling’s painting, which was executed about 1639, will be displayed side-by-side with a second portrait by Hals of Olycan (private collection), painted about ten years earlier. Through close examination and comparison of these two portraits of the same person, the exhibition will shed light on Hals’s revolutionary painting technique, and will explain how his work evolved over the decade of the 1630s.


Larry Rivers: Boston Massacre from The Ringling Collection

When: Feb 14, 2021- May 16, 2021
Where: Museum of Art, Searing Galleries

In the style of a fragmented narrative with alluringly fluorescent details on a metallic background, Larry Rivers: Boston Massacre makes visible victims of conflict who feel familiar due to the events from our recent past. The gripping images of military formations, white bodies in uniform, Black bodies fallen to the ground, and the barrel of a gun, hold our gaze and confront us in their immediacy. The exhibition bridges a gap between an episode from two hundred years ago, the artist’s “afterthoughts” within the context of the political climate of the 1970’s, and the current social struggles in the pursuit of our personal freedoms.


Sam Gilliam: Selections

When: Feb 21, 2021- Aug 15, 2021
Where: Museum of Art, Searing Galleries

Sam Gilliam: Selections is an exhibition drawn primarily from local collections in the Sarasota/Manatee area. One of the most significant abstract painters of the last 60 years, it is a pleasure to feature selections from his work in this small focus show. Through unique works and limited edition prints, the exhibition demonstrates the artist’s extraordinary experimentation and expansion of the boundaries of painting.

Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening

When: Mar 14, 2021 – Aug 15, 2021
Where: Museum of Art

Saitō Kiyoshi’s (1907–1997) keen sense of design, superb technique, and engagement with an appealing variety of themes made him one of the best-known and most-popular Japanese print artists of the twentieth century.

In the wake of the Second World War, Saitō emerged as a seminal figure of the modernist creative print movement, in which artists claimed complete authorship of their work by carving and printing their own designs. He flourished as the movement attracted patrons among members of the occupying forces and, later, Western travelers for business and pleasure. Honors at the 1951 São Paolo Biennial launched him and the creative print movement to prominence at home and abroad. When new diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Japan provided opportunities for Japanese artists to exhibit, teach, and live abroad, Saitō was among the first to do so, thus further broadening his audience.

Presenting recent donations of artworks by Saitō from Charles and Robyn Citrin to The Ringling and other collections, Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening is the first comprehensive exhibition of this artist’s work in the United States. The exhibition focuses on prints Saitō created in the 1940s and 50s, arguably the most vibrant period of his career, and includes several rare, early designs.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 200-page illustrated catalogue edited by Rhiannon Paget and with essays by Paul Binnie, Noriko Kuwahara, Rhiannon Paget, and Judith A. Stubbs, and published by Scala.


Skyway 2021: A Contemporary Collaboration

When: Jun 20, 2021 – Sep 26, 2021
Where: Museum of Art and Multiple Locations

The Skyway 2021 exhibition, now in its second iteration, is a celebration of artistic practices in the Tampa Bay region, as it is a collaboration between four institutions: the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; the Tampa Museum of Art; and the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa. Working together, curators from each institution will offer context for the diversity of art being made in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Artworks and projects in the exhibition will be selected by museum curators and the guest juror, Claire Tancons, an independent curator and scholar whose practice takes a global focus on the conditions of cultural production. Tancons has curated biennials around the world, including Prospect.1, New Orleans; the 2008 Gwangju Biennial; and the 2019 Sharjah Biennial.