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Picasso, Chagall and Penck at the Dowse

Media Release

March 2000

Picasso, Chagall and Penck at the Dowse

Works by Picasso, Cocteau and Braque are proving to be a big hit at Lower Hutt’s Dowse Art Museum, as part of the exhibition, The Unexpected, Artists’ Ceramics of the 20th Century. The Dowse has brought the exhibition from the US in the middle of its world tour.

Part of the New Zealand Festival 2000, The Unexpected is a unique collection of ceramics by artists better known as painters. “What’s ‘unexpected’”, says Dowse Director Tim Walker, “is the extraordinary way in which seeing works in a new medium provides fresh insights into the work of some of the 20th century’s most important artists”.

“This is a really exciting and important exhibition,” says Walker. “It will surprise and intrigue visitors. If you thought you knew Picasso, Dufy or more recent painters like Mimmo Paladino or A R Penck, this show will make you think again.”

The Unexpected shows how many of the century’s most influential artists have used the three dimensional nature of ceramics to explore exciting new sculptural and pictorial possibilities. “With decorated ceramics, there’s a real sense of the artist at work, of the objects having just been made. They are incredibly ‘fresh’”, says Walker.

Sculpted objects, vases, plates and tiles are among 78 works in the exhibition on loan to the Dowse from Museum Het Kruithuis, the Stedelijk Museum, in the Netherlands.
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During the mid ‘80s the Dutch museum purchased Pablo Picasso’s Vase Femme which was displayed in an exhibition of his work in ceramics in 1985.

This formed the basis for a collection that has grown over the last 15 years to include many works by important painters, including Jean Cocteau, Raoul Dufy and Joan Miro.

Walker says Museum Het Kruithuis’ ceramics collection is one of the largest and most specialised in the world.

“By single mindedly seeking out great examples of ceramics by the most influential artists and by exhibiting them around the world, the Museum Het Kruithuis has shown the possibilities the medium offers and the thoroughness with which the artists have explored its potential.”

The Dowse has received generous support from the Prins Bernhard Fonds of the Netherlands in association with the New Zealand Netherlands Foundation. The exhibition is sponsored by Mission Hall, Format and Prime.

The Unexpected will run until 21 May. Entry is $10, children and concession $8.

Two New Zealand exhibitions also feature at the Dowse with The Unexpected as part of the museum’s New Zealand Festival 2000 programme.

Edith Collier and the Women of her Circle is an exhibition of works by this remarkable painter and her contemporaries including Frances Hodgkins – an ambitious generation of New Zealand and Australian women. It runs from 4 March to 30 April.


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The exhibition includes works by Collier from private collections that have never before been exhibited. It follows her developing style as she moved from Wanganui to England in 1912, and the influence both the European modernist school and her fellow ex-patriot painters, including the better known Frances Hodgkins, had on her work.

Glenn Jowitt’s Pacific Island Style is an exhibition of photographs from countries around the pacific. A Niuean Women’s Day celebration, PNG dancers at a Samoan arts festival and a Tongan yam festival, are among the pictures capturing the nature of life in different pacific nations which is at the Dowse from 29 January to 16 April.

For more information, images and interviews call Morice Crandall at the Dowse on (04) 560 1477
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