This spring, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston turns the light on lighting innovation as well as artistic inspiration with two illuminating new shows “Electrifying Design: A Century of Lighting” and “Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature.”
As the first large-scale exhibition of its kind in the U.S, “Electrifying” will trace how a century of lighting design influenced artistic innovation within major avant-garde design movements.
Showcasing 85 rare or limited-production lighting designs, the exhibition includes works by renowned designers such as Achille Castiglioni, Christian Dell, Greta Magnusson Grossman, Poul Henningsen, Ingo Maurer, Verner Panton, Gino Sarfatti, Ettore Sottsass, and Wilhelm Wagenfeld.
“Lighting design has both transformed our daily life and influenced major design movements over the past 100 years. These novel creations blend advances in technology with artistic expression; they will open visitors’ eyes to innovative design in the everyday,” said MFAH director Gary Tinterow, in a statement announcing the exhibition.
Organized by themes of Typologies, the Lightbulb and Quality of Light, “Electrifying” will feature works ranging from early expressions in the 1920s to 21st-century national and international cutting-edge designs.
“Lighting as a field has often been pushed, literally, into the shadows. This exhibition highlights its role as a leading indicator of stylistic and technical change,” described Cindi Strauss, curator of Decorative Arts, Craft, and Design at the MFAH, in the same statement.
The MFAH continues to shed new light on artistic inspiration–though in a somewhat more figurative way–with its second blockbuster spring exhibition, “Hockney-Van Gogh,” a presentation of 57 selected landscape paintings and drawings by Vincent van Gogh and contemporary artist David Hockney.
The exhibition illustrates how Van Gogh’s perspective on nature influenced and inspired Hockney, especially the series of paintings of the in Yorkshire Wolds, in northeastern England Hockney produced in the early 2000s.
“Hockney once asked, ‘How can you be bored with nature?’” said Ann Dumas, consulting curator of European art for the MFAH, in a press release. “In this exhibition, we discover both artists’ profound love of nature expressed through brilliant color and the capacity to see the world with fresh eyes.”
When presented alongside landscapes seen through Van Gogh’s eyes, the exhibition heightens understanding of the inspirational connection between the artists.
“This exhibition offers visitors an extraordinary opportunity to see these two visionary artists side-by-side,” Tinterow added. “We are delighted to collaborate with David Hockney and the Van Gogh Museum to bring these exceptional works to our audience in Houston.”
“Electrifying Design: A Century of Lighting” and “Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature” open February 21 at the MFAH.