Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Pulitzer Center for the Arts, St. Louis, MO
February 11-August 11, 2011

"Dreamscapes," the current show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, is a wonderful conglomerate of different media of art ruminating on the subject of dreams. Many are supposed to depict dreams or memories/dreams, a few are more on the subject of sleeping, and two in particular are images of real life, but done in the manner to appear like a dream.

The show is split nicely between the two floors of the Pulitzer. The main level focuses on modern and 20th century artists, and the lower level focuses on 19th century and before artists. I didn't notice at first, but this split is perfect for a show on this subject. While images depicting dreams in the 19th century and before largely focused on the content and imagery of dreams, be them nightmarish or fancy; after the seminal work on dreams in the early 20th century by Freud and others, people, artists especially, spent more time focusing on what dreams meant, rather than what they depicted. Artists' work became more esoteric and abstract, implying visions and feelings had in dreams as opposed to merely showing what was seen in dreams. The split between the two floors at the Pulitzer really relates that change in dream theory.

Granted, many of the artists still showed what they saw in the dream, but they changed it in such a way as to give more meaning, more glimpses into their subconscious. Max Beckmann probably did not see all the people and things in his painting in one still in his dream. Rather, he took a myriad of images from his dreams and combined them into one painting, to give the viewer more insight into his psyche, perhaps even to give himself more insight into his psyche. His painting, "The Dream," from 1921 is a cluster of people and objects, fish, picture frames, instruments, and more, crowded into a small vertical space and hemmed in by a roof above and a wall on the right side. The images are clearly drawn, some cut cubist-like to add to the largely diagonal movement to the picture, and all, I'm sure, are insight into one or a few of Beckmann's dreams.

There are a few items that recur often in the pieces: boulders or rocks, phones, and landscapes. As Francesca Herndon-Consagra, the Senior Curator at the Pulitzer, says in the video introduction, these recurrences were intended to provide more of a congruity to the show as well as to reinforce the notion of repetition in dreams. Many images or occurrences in our dreams are repeated, sometimes over the course of a week, sometimes over the course of a lifetime . The repeated items are fun to pick out and notice while walking through the Pulitzer, and make the details in the show more likely to be seen.

Staircase ‑ Pulitzer Version. 2010. Polyester fabric and stainless steel rods. 246 3/8"x247 9/16"x246". Do Ho Suh and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York. Photograph by Sam Fentress. Courtesy of the Pulitzer Center for the Arts.

Another piece worth mention here is Do Ho Suh's "Staircase- Pulitzer Version" (2010). Some video from the installation is also available online. The detail of the piece is spectacular, everything from the lights, to the plugs, the banister, even the molding underneath each stair, gets notice by Suh. The piece gives an eerie yet inviting orange-red glow to the back room on the main floor of the gallery.

There are a number of wonderful artists in this show, (Kiki Smith, Philip Guston, Constantin Brancusi, Joan Miro, etc. etc.) and that reason alone should be enough to get people to go to the Pulitzer, but the thematic and visual ties between the work and the always wonderful link to the Tado Ando building are that much more reason to see the show.

My only gripe is the lack of an online catalog to look through the art on display, but then again, that could be another reason to see the show in person. However, the videos and other information on the Pulitzer's website and Youtube channel are very well done, informative, and brief.

And on a final, random note, seven of the pieces in the show are on loan from either the Saint Louis Art Museum or the Kemper Art Museum, and it's great to see the relationship among St. Louis museums so strong, hopefully it continues.

The public is invited to a free Panel Discussion at the Pulitzer on Thursday, April 7, 2011. Doors at 7 p.m., Panel at 7:30 p.m.

The artist Max Ernst noted that painting gave "objective form to was is visible inside him." This panel explores the varied and complex symbolism of dreams from different traditions in Western psychology. The members of the panel will introduce their particular traditions and then interpret some of the artworks in the "Dreamscapes" exhibition at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Panelists: Britt-Marie Schiller, Dean, Faculty Member at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute and Professor of Philosophy at Webster University, St. Louis; Rose Holt, Jungian analyst in private practice in St. Louis and Chicago and active in the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago Analyst Training Program. Moderator: Francesca Herndon-Consagra, Senior Curator at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

"Dreamscapes" is on view at the Pulitzer Center for the Arts until August 13, 2011. The Pulitzer is located at 3716 Washington Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63108. 314/754-1850. The Pulitzer is free and open to the public Wednesdays 12-5 pm & Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Louis Nahlik was a Fall 2010 Intern at Art Saint Louis and currently serves as our Off-Site Exhibitions Installer. Louis has written several reviews of area exhibitions for this blog. A St. Louis native, Louis is a 2010 graduate of UM-St. Louis, where he earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Art History & Studio Art.

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