The character and values of the American
Midwest have exerted a profound influence on the way the nation views itself.
Illusions of Eden: Visions of the American Heartland, on view at the Columbus
Museum of Art February 18 - April 30, 2000, brings four contemporary
installations together with art from the 1920s through the 1940s to explore the
cultural identity of the region. Including more than 100 paintings, photographs
and four installations, the exhibition captures the complex spirit of a region that
spans the heart of the nation.
The exhibition and its national tour are sponsored by Philip Morris Companies
Illusions of Eden is one component of The Heartland Project, a series of three
traveling museum exhibitions and an interactive website that will evaluate the
impact of culture on present-day life in two different, yet intertwined, regions of
the world: the Central United States and Central Europe. Major support for The
Heartland Project website is provided by Spike, Inc. and AT&T.
Often considered the most quintessentially American of the nation's regions,
the Midwest was recognized as a distinct cultural and geographic entity in the
early part of the 20th century. Artists in the 1920s who lived or worked in the
Midwest were the first to visually interpret the region, creating images that
remain icons of our society. Illusions of Eden features historical works that have
seldom been viewed together, alongside innovative installations created by four
contemporary artists with strong ties to the Midwest. Thus, Illusions of Eden
places the accomplishments of past artists in a contemporary context. The
exhibition is structured around five essential motifs of American and Midwestern
culture: journey (history, time, transition, travel); garden (the earth,
topography, nature); home (the family, society, culture); word (myth, memory,
belief); and work (labor and the creation of goods).
Our participation in this exhibition continues our long commitment to the study
of American art and to the organization of exhibitions for international
audiences, explained Irvin M. Lippman, executive director of the Columbus
Museum of Art. With Illusions of Eden, we are able to present a unique
perspective on the art of the Midwest. We are proud to organize this project with
our sister institutions to aid in understanding the cultural milestones of our
Twenty-seven painters from the first half of the 20th century will be represented,
including Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Charles
Burchfield, Aaron Bohrod, Clarence Carter, Archibald Motley and Marvin Cone.
Photographers include Margaret Bourke-White, Russell Lee, Wright Morris and
Charles Sheeler. Works by these artists relate to the journey motif. The
contemporary component of the exhibition is composed of newly commissioned
work by Malcolm Cochran (work), Maya Lin (garden), Mary Lucier (word) and
Kerry James Marshall (home).
Illusions of Eden showcases works that capture the unique character and spirit
of a region central to the economic and cultural development of the United
States, said Stephanie French, vice president, corporate contributions for Philip
Morris Companies Inc. Philip Morris is proud to continue its more than 40-year
commitment to the arts by sponsoring this exhibition and its national tour. Our
company's ties to the heartland are particularly strong, with two of our five
operating companies - Kraft Foods, Inc. and Miller Brewing Company -
headquartered in the Midwest. We are therefore pleased to be working with the
Ohio Arts Council, Arts Midwest and the Columbus Museum of Art to share these
uniquely American works, both traditional and contemporary, with audiences
around the country.
Illusions of Eden was organized by a team of curators led by Robert Stearns,
senior program director, Arts Midwest; Columbus Museum of Art curators
Nannette Maciejunes, senior curator; Annegreth Nill, curator of 20th century and
contemporary art; Catherine Evans, curator of photography; Michael D. Hall,
independent critic and artist; and Karal Ann Marling, professor of art history,
University of Minnesota.
From Columbus, the show travels to the Museum of Modern Art/Ludwig
Foundation Vienna, Austria (June 1 through August 15, 2000); the Ludwig
Museum/Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Hungary (September 21
through November 26, 2000); the Madison Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin
(February 24 through May 13, 2001); and the Washington Pavilion of Arts &
Science, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (June through August 2001). Additional U.S.
venues are under consideration.
Illusions of Eden: Visions of the American Heartland is produced by Arts Midwest
and the Ohio Arts Council's International Program in partnership with the
Columbus Museum of Art. Additional financial support is provided by The
Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Trust for
Mutual Understanding, the Ohio Arts Foundation, Inc., and state arts council
partners the Illinois Arts Council, the South Dakota Arts Council and the
Wisconsin Arts Board. Financial and facilitative assistance is provided by the
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of
State. Special commissioning support is provided by Loann W. Crane. Illusions
of Eden is endorsed by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities,
and its European tour is designated an official Millennium event of the White
House Millennium Council.
A full-color catalog in English, Hungarian and German accompanies Illusions of
Eden. In addition, a key component of the exhibition will be an interactive
website including images, as well as historical, cultural and educational
information about the exhibition and the Midwest.
The Heartland Project
Components of The Heartland Project are:
Aspects/Positions: Fifty Years of Art in Central Europe, 1949-99, assembled
by the Museum of Modern Art/Ludwig Foundation Vienna, Austria.
Opening in Vienna, December 17, 1999 at the Museum of Modern
Art/Ludwig Foundation Vienna, Austria. Touring Europe and the United
States through 2001. Venues to be announced.
Illusions of Eden: Visions of the American Heartland organized by the
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio. Opening February 18, 2000,
at the Columbus Museum of Art. For tour information see itinerary on
Into the Light: New Images of Central Europe and the Midwest. Opening late
The Heartland Project website, www.heartlandproject.org, created by
Spike, Inc. Online as of January 17, 2000.
The Columbus Museum of Art, located at 480 E. Broad Street, is an educational
and cultural center for the people of central Ohio, dedicated to the pursuit of
excellence in art through education, collections and exhibitions. The museum is
open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 pm, and until 8:30 pm
every Thursday. For additional information, call the museum's 24-hour
information line at (614) 221-4848 or visit www.columbusart.mus.oh.us.
Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota
and Wisconsin. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest enables individuals and
families throughout America's heartland to share in and to enjoy the arts and
cultures of the region and the world. Its partners and investors include the
National Endowment for the Arts, its nine member state arts agencies,
foundations, corporations and individual supporters.
The Ohio Arts Council, a state agency established in 1965, builds the state
through the arts-economically, educationally and culturally-preserving the past,
enhancing the present and enriching the future for all Ohioans. With funds from
the Ohio Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Council
provides financial assistance to artists and arts organizations. Working in
concert with national corporations, philanthropic and arts organizations, the Ohio
Arts Council's International Program is recognized as a leader in cultural arts
exchanges among state arts agencies. The International Program is designed
to foster long-term involvement in cultural exchanges. The program offers
grants to Ohio non-profit educational, cultural and arts organizations to support
exemplary international arts projects and innovative partnerships to increase
access to activities that promote interaction among artists in Ohio and abroad.