Frist Center opens Italian Style exhibition

Dolce & Gabbana. Leather ankle boots with gold, white, and pink embroidery, 2000. Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Dolce & Gabbana. Leather ankle boots with gold, white, and pink embroidery, 2000.
Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts opens Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945, an elegant exhibition that chronicles the birth and growth of the Italian fashion industry from the post-World War II recovery years to the present day on Friday, June 5. The exhibition is the most comprehensive ever to examine Italy’s influential contribution to the international fashion world celebrates the defining factors that have earned the country a reputation for quality and style: the use of luxurious materials; expert textile production; and specialized regional manufacturing.

“The passionate responses of visitors to The Golden Age of Couture confirmed the cross-cultural appeal of good design and its power to inspire scholarly study as well as conversations about beauty and material culture,” says Frist Center Executive Director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards.

Organized chronologically, Italian Style charts an economic history of how Italy’s traditional use of high-quality materials and artisanal craftsmanship developed into a global industry. More than 90 garments and accessories by leading Italian fashion houses, including Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Pucci, Valentino and Versace will be on display. Among these objects are ball gowns shown next to their original hand-drawn designs, shoes, handbags, jewelry, personal letters, maps, photography, and archival footage. Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Italian Style will be on view in the Frist Center’s Ingram Gallery through September 7, 2015.

Sculptures by internationally renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa will also be on view at the Frist Center through September 7, and at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art through November 1.

The installations mark Plensa’s most comprehensive North American exhibition to date and exemplify the range of the artist’s work, which reflects timeless philosophical queries.

“The work is going to be extraordinary within its garden setting,” says Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. “Plensa has earned an international following among curators, critics and art lovers. He has also earned acclaim with the wider public, which has responded enthusiastically to work that is both beautiful and poetic, reflecting humanity’s physical existence, psychology, and spirituality in ways we can all feel connected to.”

In addition to three large-scale works shown indoors in the Frist Center’s Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, Plensa’s Isabella (2014), a monumental head, will be on view outside the Center’s Demonbreun Street entrance until October 2016, and will mirror a “sister” cast-iron sculpture sited at Cheekwood.

Mark your calendar now! June 26, Al (Piper) Green & The Hard Times open this year’s popular summer concert series Frist Fridays. With his name and Memphis-area upbringing, Al (Piper) Green seemed destined for a life in music. Influenced by the giants of blues, soul and R&B, such as Otis Redding, James Brown, Solomon Burke and B. B. King, Piper & the Hard Times are known for their deep melodies and swinging rhythms. The band features lead singer Al (Piper) Green, Clyde “Memphis Blue” Dotson on guitar, William Scruggs on bass and Gary Shaw on the drums, who together will deliver a healthy serving of Memphis soul to Nashville.

Plensa at Cheekwood

Cheekwood hosts a major exhibition of large-scale sculptures by internationally acclaimed Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the latest grand-scale show featured at the estate’s historic grounds and museum of art. On display through November 1, 2015, Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape features outdoor and indoor installations including sculptures imagined specifically for Cheekwood’s grounds.

The exhibition is organized by Cheekwood in partnership with The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, where four of the artist’s sculptures also are on view. Plensa’s monumental sculpture Isabella (2014), installed near the entrance to the Frist Center, mirrors a “sister” cast iron sculpture sited at Cheekwood.

Jaume Plensa. See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil (from the 2012 installation In the Midst of Dreams, EMMA—Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, Finland), 2010. Polyester resin, stainless steel and light. 80 5/8 x 58 1/4 x 48 in. each. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York. Photo: Ari Karttunen © EMMA

Jaume Plensa. See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil (from the 2012 installation In the Midst of Dreams, EMMA—Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, Finland), 2010. Polyester resin, stainless steel and light. 80 5/8 x 58 1/4 x 48 in. each. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York. Photo: Ari Karttunen © EMMA

The exhibition at Cheekwood marks a rare opportunity for visitors to experience the spectacular work of Plensa in Nashville. Of particular interest to Music City’s culture is Plensa’s 2013 seated stainless steel figure, Silent Music, entirely comprised of stainless steel musical notes. Though this does not actually incorporate sound, the sculpture stands as a symbol of the universal language achieved through music, celebrating the imprint left on body and soul.

Plensa’s new sculptures are informed and inspired by Cheekwood’s landscape and essence. Specifically designed for Cheekwood’s exhibition, Awilda & Irma consists of a pair of monumental stainless steel mesh faces that engage with each other as well as the landscape visible through them. Visitors to Cheekwood will see the U.S. premier of The Soul of Words I and II, a pair of white stainless steel seated figures formed from the symbols and letters from nine different alphabets.

Plensa’s body of work is primarily inspired by the complexities of the human condition. He is known for the exploration of the tension between the interior and exterior life. Plensa is also involved with the transmission of language and culture. He often uses excerpts of texts from authors and poets whose writings are meaningful to him. The characters from many world alphabets are the physical elements that form a sculpture, making language as central to his work as human forms themselves.