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Artistic Relationships: Partners, Mentors, Lovers
New exhibit at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art explores the relationships of 20th Century artists
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

Artists are often perceived as recluse beings that create in isolation, but many times their wonderful masterpieces are not solidary

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The works of Maria Helena Viera Da Silva are among the more than 85 pieces included in the Bechtler's 'Artistic Relationships' exhibition.

endeavors but the result of a spark ignited by their relationships with other artists.

A new exhibit at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art explores these relationships through paintings, prints, textiles and sculptures that reflect the 20th century’s experimentation with abstract art and the human figure.

“In many instances the impact these artists had on one another was greatly enhanced because of their personal connections,” Bechtler President and CEO John Boyer said. “It reinforces the notion that 20th century modernism was very much the result of this complex web of relationships.”

The new exhibition “Artistic Relationships: Partners, Mentors, Lovers” includes 85 works by artists such as Joan Miro, Bridget Riley, Fernand Leger, Le Corbusier, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, who were not only connected by the creative spirit but personal circumstances.

The exhibit marks the first time that works by celebrated British artist Henry Moore are on view at the museum. The displayed works include six prints from the Bechtler’s permanent collection and one small-scale sculpture on loan from founding museum patron Andreas Bechtler.

Relationships are at the very heart of the Bechtler family’s story – they forged relationships with the modern artists they collected. And many of those artists had close connections with each other – they exhibited together, learned from each other in shared stylist movements, personal experiences and intellectual inquiry.

The focus of the show is to reinforce the importance of the artists’ relationships with each other as they mature as creative figures. The relationships presented in the exhibition take a variety of forms from love affairs and marriages to lifelong friendships and teacher/student pairings.

“This is not an exhibition about reactionary relationships but rather relationships of sympathetic accord and mutual experimentation,” Boyer said. “We tried to balance in the exhibition a real sense of an awareness of biography to the degree that it informs our understanding of the comparisons that are being made.”

The relationships presented in the exhibition cross nationality and generation. They are concentrated primarily on European figures but also include important American artists Alexander Calder and Sam Francis. The popular works of Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, whose 30-year marriage was sustained by their artistic collaborations, bring whimsy and dynamism to the exhibit.

“Artistic Relationships” will remain on display through July 29. The museum is located at Levine Center for the Arts (420 S. Tryon St.)

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