The Frist Zoomed Beyond Cars in 2013

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669). The Visitation, 1640. Oil on cedar panel, 22 1/4 x 18 7/8 in. Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase, 27.200

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669). The Visitation, 1640. Oil on cedar panel, 22 1/4 x 18 7/8 in. Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase, 27.200

Now that local publications have begun summing up 2013 with best-of-the-year honors, I wanted to mention a couple of shows that slipped through this calendar-tallying season. While the Frist won tons of attention – and visitors – for its summertime celebration Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, two of their earlier shows grabbed my gaze and continue to preoccupy my attention in a way that an elegant, but inevitably less complex and compelling, display of design never could.

Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Highlights from the Detroit Institute of Arts included more than 70 paintings from one of the deepest and broadest collections of Dutch art outside of the Netherlands. The exhibition was one of the best of its kind that Nashville gallerygoers – or art enthusiasts anywhere – will ever see, and the addition of decorative art objects and a film series that included Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching was frosting on the cake. The exhibition put viewers face-to-face with Rembrandt’s genius and I returned three times just to wander through the sensationally sumptuous displays on view in the show’s gorgeous selection of still life paintings.

In the months leading up to the Frist’s showing of Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection I was sure this display would be an interesting window into history, but was just as sure that it would be the kind of show I’d look at once with mild curiosity while waiting for the next exhibit to take its place. I couldn’t have been more wrong. One of the best shows Nashville saw in 2013, all the objects and sculptures in Ancient Americas spoke directly to the age-old shamanic traditions that flourished on this side of the globe long before the influence of Christianity and Western culture. The exhibition served as a deeply moving reminder of art’s original ritualistic functions while simultaneously tracing the evolving understanding that now finds these archaeological objects considered to be masterworks of fine art.

Check out another one of my favorites from the last twelve months here.

What were your favorite Nashville exhibitions this year? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

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About Joe Nolan

Joe Nolan is the visual arts editor. He is a poet, musician, artist and critic who distills the city's gallery scene from Nashville's east side. Find out more about his projects at joenolan.com. (Photo of Joe Nolan by John Rogers)