March 2 – April 6, 2012
Curator: Jane Edmundson
Helen Christou Gallery
Music is one of humanity’s earliest and most innate manifestations of the creative impulse. The structured juxtaposition of sound and silence mimics our speech, while managing to communicate deeper emotions and ideas than we may be able to enunciate with words alone. Instruments carved from bone to produce controlled sounds have been found at prehistorical archeological sites, and clay tablets containing notations of songwriting have been dated to 1400 BCE. Representations of musical acts and instruments in visual art are present in the paintings found in Egyptian tombs, illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, Italian Renaissance frescoes, and the collages of Cubist artists such as Braque and Picasso. This bond between music and art illustrates the impulse to document the temporal nature of music; to freeze the fleeting experience of hearing a melody and being momentarily transfixed by its sounds and the feelings they invoke.
Concertino presents a selection of works from the University of Lethbridge Art Collection that explore the desire to record the ephemeral nature of music into a fixed, concrete image, and representations of musical instruments (both functional, as in the case of the Slit Gong Drum from the Middle Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, and conceptual, demonstrated by Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Drum Set). The orchestra drawings of Raoul Dufy and Gen-Paul capture the frenzy of activity that often accompanies live symphonic performances, while Illingworth Kerr’s images of a steel drum band document his cultural experiences on the island of St. Lucia in the 1960s. Robert Rauschenberg’s famed pop collage treatment of the Talking Head’s seminal album ‘Speaking In Tongues’ renders the music album as a prized art object, and demonstrates the co-operative relationship between rock bands and the artists that design cover art, promotional posters, and collectible T-shirts. Representations of the body responding to music are also visible in Billy McCarroll’s abstracted Dance, Andre Derain’s Figures in a Landscape, and Bart Pragnell’s charming illustration of nude revelers, dancing to far-off music that the viewer is left to conjure in their own mind, or hum under their breath.
– Jane Edmundson, Assistant Curator, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery