Brooklyn Holiday Art Mash Up

Details of four works in Connecting Cultures, from top: Korumbo Gable Painting, 20th century, unidentified Abelam artist; Girl in a Japanese Costume, circa 1890, William Merritt Chase; Mosaic Head Pendant, 700–800, unidentified Maya artist; and Life-Death Figure, circa 900–1250, unidentified Huastec artist.

Details of four featured works, from top: Korumbo Gable Painting, 20th c. by unidentified Abelam artist; Girl in a Japanese Costume, c. 1890, William Merritt Chase; Mosaic Head Pendant, 700–800, unidentified Maya artist; and Life-Death Figure, c. 900–1250, unidentified Huastec artist.

A big mix-up has happened on the First Floor of The Brooklyn Museum, but it’s OK. In fact, if you like rambling around the Brooklyn Flea, the Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn exhibit is less congested but just as much fun.

The museum curators clearly enjoyed picking and choosing objects from their wide-ranging collections, and packing a gallery full of juxtapositions from different centuries, cultures, and countries. The designers made great use of the soaring space of the Great Hall, creating floor-to-ceiling murals, maps, and display shelves that provoke, delight, and mystify. Check out the museum’s Flickr photostream. As a visitor, you feel as though you’ve wandered in on a modern version of a Victorian-era World Exposition.

Gaston Lachaise’s modern Standing Woman bronze is installed near Nick Cave’s Soundsuit, Picasso’s cubist Woman in Gray portrait is hung next to Huntington’s classical portrait The Sketcher, and Ikea-clean wall grids house ornate pitchers from many cultures and time periods. Catch a glimpse of the variety in the installation views on Flickr, or peruse the objects in Brooklyn’s on-line database.

As an added bonus, the Museum has established both human and social-media feedback options for visitors. It’s nice to use the terminal to input comments on the show (posted on the exhibition site), but maybe it’s even nicer to have staff members positioned inside the exhibit to chat, answer questions, and elicit your comments.

The installation is reflected in Pistoletto’s Standing Man, Standing Woman with Hat, a 1980 silkscreen on stainless steel.

Installation as reflected in Pistoletto’s Standing Man, Standing Woman with Hat, 1980 silkscreen on stainless steel.

The Museum has been collecting since 1823, and there’s both an on-line chronology and a pictorial history slightly hidden away inside the show.

Upcoming and news flash: Brooklyn Museum is going to continue it’s Target First Saturday tradition into the New Year (next on January 5), but for the time being, it’s cancelling the dance party portion of the festivities. Get there for the rest of the night.

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