During the eighteen-month run of Peacock Room REMIX, a series of related installations are presented in conjunction with Filthy Lucre. First on view were Whistler’s portraits of the Leyland family and Waterston’s preparatory studies for his installation. Waterston’s studies remain on display through May 30, 2016. The Leyland portraits were taken down on December 17 to prepare the gallery for The Lost Symphony: Whistler and the Perfection of Art, which opens on January 16. This exhibition is about a painting that does not exist, Whistler’s The Three Girls. The third installation, Chinamania, explores the enduring craze for Chinese blue-and-white porcelain in the West. It is on view July 9, 2016, to June 4, 2017.
The Lost Symphony: Whistler and the Perfection of Art
January 16–May 30, 2016
Three Girls would have been a seminal work in the stylistic development of American artist James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)—if he had completed it. He intended to hang the large painting opposite his Princess from the Land of Porcelain in the dining room of his patron Frederick Leyland, but after they quarreled over the cost of the Peacock Room, Whistler destroyed the work. As part of Peacock Room REMIX, this exhibition reconstructs how Whistler’s unrealized quest for “the perfection of art” intersected with less-rarified concerns about patronage, payment, and professional reputation.
July 9, 2016–June 4, 2017
Chinamania, the craze for Chinese blue-and-white ceramics, swept London in the nineteenth century and still endures in the West. Contemporary artist Walter McConnell, inspired by his travels in China and the kilns at Jingdezhen, interrogates this phenomenon through his reinstallation of Kangxi porcelains similar to those originally displayed in the Peacock Room. The show also includes two monumental ceramic stupas from McConnell’s A Theory of Everything series.
I began thinking about all the great painted rooms in art history and recalled Whistler's strange and splendid Peacock Room.... I started to think about my own project as an all-encompassing environment. I imagined it as a painting that one would literally "walk into," completely surrounding the viewer in the experience.
Luxury has burgeoned to excess; the decay is physical, but feels moral.