The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is throwing itself a 60th birthday party that lasts all year long. Fort Worth's most storied museum first welcomed visitors on January 21, 1961, and to mark the decades, the Carter will present exhibitions and events that both honor the past and explore the future of American art.
"From its establishment in 1961 by siblings Amon G. Carter Jr. and Ruth Carter Stevenson to today’s leadership in the study and presentation of American art, the Carter has advanced the values of excellence and accessibility put forward by the institution’s namesake, Amon G. Carter Sr., who provided for the creation of a museum built to serve the community with free access to the best of American art," the museum says in a release. "Exhibitions in 2021 reflect the Carter’s rich history of presenting groundbreaking works from the late 18th century to the present ... ensuring that the Carter continues to tell the story of American art’s past while also cultivating its future."
In addition to a robust lineup of exhibitions (including the two on view now: "Mitch Epstein: Property Rights" and "Mythmakers: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington"), the museum will introduce groundbreaking digital initiatives this year, they say.
Here is a closer look at what the Carter has planned for their milestone anniversary (with descriptions provided by the museum). Admission is always free.
"An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain," April 18-August 8, 2021
"An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain" is the first comprehensive survey of the work of Vietnamese-American photographer An-My Lê and continues the Carter’s long history of presenting work by significant living artists. Featuring a selection of photographs from five of the artist’s major bodies of work, this nationally touring exhibition considers the photographer’s nearly 25-year career exploring the edges of war and recording these landscapes of conflict in beautiful, classically composed photographs. This timely exhibition explores politically-charged topics through Lê’s subtle, evocative images that avoid the sensationalism often seen in newspapers and movies.
"Photography Is Art," April 18-August 8, 2021
Though widely accepted today as a medium in its own right, art museums have not always embraced photography. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that many museums began actively collecting and displaying photographs. "Photography Is Art" tells the story of American photographers’ efforts, from the late 19th century on, to explore and proclaim photography’s artfulness. Drawn from the Carter’s expansive and renowned photography collection, this exhibition reveals how artists shaped their medium’s artistic language.
"An Expanding Vision: Six Decades of Works on Paper," April 24-August 22, 2021
The Carter’s holdings include over 8,000 works on paper spanning the 18th to the 21st centuries. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Carter, "An Expanding Vision: Six Decades of Works on Paper" revisits the museum’s history of collecting them and highlights the museum's development into one of the country’s significant holdings of these works. The exhibition highlights key moments of collecting in the past 60 years, including acquisitions of pieces by artists such as Mary Cassatt, Glenn Ligon, Louise Nevelson, Kara Walker, Charles Wilbert White, and more.
"Thomas Moran’s Mount Superior," August 28-December 12, 2021
Carter visitors can be among the first to see Mount Superior, a major new acquisition by 19th-century landscape painter Thomas Moran. Mount Superior tells the story of 19th-century Western industrialization through an important, midcareer watercolor by one of America’s best-known landscape painters. The entire exhibition brings together photography, works on paper, and popular culture from the period while documenting a rarely explored time of Moran’s career.
"Anila Quayyum Agha: A Beautiful Despair," September 25, 2021-January 9, 2022
Commissioned by the Carter, multidisciplinary artist Anila Quayyum Agha will create an immersive, site-specific sculptural installation informed by her multicultural, migrant experience. Using metal armatures of open geometric and curvilinear designs to encase a single light source, Agha will produce a meditative space filled with ornate patterns of light and shadow. Bridging modern and traditional materials with historic and contemporary meanings, her installation at the Carter will be accompanied by a new series of drawings that incorporate textile processes like wax, dyes, and embroidery to reposition practices of traditional domestic servitude as a fine art form. The exhibition continues the museum’s history of telling the complex stories and identities that have defined American art history as well as supporting artists who are reinventing traditional modes of works on paper.
"Imagined Realism: Scott and Stuart Gentling," September 25, 2021-January 9, 2022
Anyone who has been to Bass Hall and marveled at the 80-foot mural adorning its dome has seen the work of Fort Worth artists Scott and Stuart Gentling. Brothers and lifelong artistic collaborators, their artistic interests spanned centuries and continents, resulting in a varied body of work that ranges from emulations of naturalist-artists like John James Audubon to imagined visualizations of the Aztec empire. In the first-ever comprehensive retrospective of the brothers’ work, "Imagined Realism" explores their distinct style that defied the movements of their times. Featuring more than 150 works and archival objects, this exhibition marks a multiyear effort to situate their visionary artistic careers on the national stage of the larger art world in which they worked.
In addition to these exhibitions, there will be a number of events — from a craft cocktail series to family art workshops — to celebrate the museum’s anniversary. In late September, the Carter will host a 60th Birthday Bash, featuring six hours of art-inspired activities that include live music, art making, experiences with artists, activities in the galleries, local food trucks, and more. Details to come.
In addition, the Carter is also expanding public access to its resources through new digital initiatives. The recently launched updates include website enhancements, search capabilities, and more.
“In 60 years of fostering intimate and meaningful encounters with American art, the Carter has become an important cultural resource for Fort Worth and the global arts community alike,” says executive director Andrew J. Walker in the release. “Our 2021 anniversary program — from exploring an important new acquisition by Thomas Moran to hosting Anila Quayyum Agha’s immersive, multimedia installation illuminating the modern American experience — exemplifies our ongoing commitment to telling the evolving story of American creativity. While we celebrate the accomplishments of the past six decades, we also look ahead to building on the Carter’s legacy of innovative programming and pivotal scholarship in American art.”