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"Photography Transformed: Selections from the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company Collection"
2002-02-17 until 2002-04-28
Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, OH, USA

align=right> Cleveland-based Metropolitan Bank and Trust owns one of the largest contemporary art collections in the U.S., and is one of the few corporate collections devoted to photo-based works of art. Fifty-five highlights from the banks critically acclaimed collection will chronicle the striking innovations in technical processes, artistic styles, and subject matter in contemporary photography during the past 25 years in Photography Transformed: Selections from the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The exhibition will include large-scale portraits, urban and natural landscapes, and staged works by 54 artists, most working in color media. They include Matthew Barney, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gregory Crewdson, Barbara Ess, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Richard Long, Richard Misrach, Shirin Neshat, Catherine Opie, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Admission is free.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Chairman and CEO Robert M. Kaye has amassed a first-rate and innovative art collection to enhance the banks work environment, providing pleasure to staff and clients alike, notes CMA Director Katharine Lee Reid. The generosity of Metropolitan Bank and Trust has allowed this wider exposure of its marvelous collection and we are pleased that choice selections will be exhibited at the museum. According to Tom Hinson, CMAs curator of photography: “An exceptional artistic ferment has changed the medium of photography during the past quarter century. This is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to enjoy the inventive, indeed revolutionary, creations that have arisen out of it.

The exhibition focuses on some of the most challenging and stimulating artists of our time. In Gregory Crewdsons Untitled (Sewer Mystery) (1999), what appears to be a Midwestern scene with a white house and hilly landscape seems mysterious because of the presence of police and firefighter vehicles and personnel. The officers and firefighters examine steaming grates and a smoking car in a staged tableau that in fact was created solely to be photographed. In Shirin Neshats As yet untitled (women on beach) (1999), a scene of dozens of black-clad women evokes an abstract, bird-like migration to the sea; Thomas Ruff’s Portrait (1988) of a female friend is shot like a passport photograph of the sitter is placed against a plain white background and stares into the camera. Musee dOrsay 2, Paris (1989) is part of Thomas Struth’s remarkable series of large-scale color photographs of people visiting art museums around the world. In this photograph (69-1/2 x 54-1/2 inches), two small figures observe Thomas Coutures monumental painting Romans of the Decadence (1847). Says Hinson, The large size of the photograph emphasizes not only the expansive influence of painting, but also the importance and impact of photography.

The whole Metropolitan collection is known for its quality and size — about 700 works containing some 1,300 elements. The bank’s vast collection is spread throughout 33 of its branches and loan offices, with the largest number of works in its new corporate headquarters at Metropolitan Plaza in Highland Hills, designed by the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP.

Words from Robert M. Kaye: The Metropolitan Bank and Trust Collection

Since the 1970s, there has been increasing interest among Cleveland businesses to collect the art of our time and to acquire the work of local, national, and international artists. As companies established or re-evaluated their business strategies and corporate cultures, they recognized the importance and value of the visual arts in reflecting the significance of experimentation, risk-taking, and standard setting. Works of art were meant to stimulate, challenge, or satisfy employees and clients.

A great believer in art collecting as part of corporate culture, and as a CMA trustee and long-time art collector myself, I assembled this collection in consultation with New York dealer and gallery owner Barbara Gladstone. I am pleased to share so many great works of art with the museum’s audience and to emphasize the importance of art in every avenue of life.

Catalogue of Collection to Accompany Exhibition

A 256-page clothbound catalogue of the entire corporate collection (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001) includes 600 color and black-and-white images plus an essay by independent curator and writer Klaus Kertess. The book will be available for $75.

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