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New MIA exhibits show relationships among art, nature

“Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan” and “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves” respectively provide an in-depth look at Japanese textiles and a glimpse into the end of the renowned painter’s life.
Image by Emily Urfer
The Minneapolis Institute of Art on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) debuted two new exhibits on Saturday.

“Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan,” features over 100 pieces of clothing and various textiles spanning from 1750 to 1930.

“Not only is it all historically important, but it is in terms of craft and technique,” Thomas Murray, independent researcher and art collector from whom the collection was purchased and gifted, said in regard to the significance of displaying the textiles.

While Murray has been a long time figure in the world of art collection, acquiring this collection was something he did in secret. When he revealed what he had amassed over time, he said that a lot of people were astonished at its breadth.

This distance is conveyed through the set up of the show, which MIA curator Andreas Marks describes as being set up “like a journey.” Beginning in Siberia and ending in Okinawa, textiles of a common nature and those of a higher social class are on display, which serves as a reflection of the collection’s vast origins.

Materials used in various textiles include fish skin, nettle fiber, banana leaf fibers, paper, cotton and more. Some of the standout pieces featured in the exhibit include clothing traditionally worn by Japanese firefighters and a carp-adorned, shibori-dyed festival kimono, among others.

On the second floor resides the MIA’s other new exhibit, “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves.” The exhibit features MIA’s “Olive Trees” alongside three other paintings from the series, two landscapes and three works on paper. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Dallas Museum of Art lended the works for the purpose of the exhibit.

Van Gogh’s Olive Grove series was completed between June and December 1889 while he was at the psychiatric hospital in Saint Rémy de Provence, located in the south of France. Nearly one year later, Van Gogh went on to take his own life.

Given the completion of these works so near the end of his life in addition to their creation at the psychiatric hospital, the collection has been the subject of scrutiny by many researchers eager to further understand Van Gogh’s methods. Most recent findings, according to the Van Gogh Museum, have allowed for insight into his process regarding composition, brushwork and material section.

“Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan” will run until Sept. 11 and “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves” will run until Sept. 18.

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