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Don’t leave me this way

Botanical Forms at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History, Carroll Dunham and more at the Addison, and Renzo Piano at the Fogg
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  May 6, 2008
Amanda Means, Peacock Plant (1992)

Leaves lead a wild life, and each leaf’s physical structure reflects both its individual biography — revealing the pathways, for example, of insects that have eaten their way across a leaf’s surface — and its evolutionary history, as varied vein patterns offer insight into the development of water and nutrient transport within a leaf. The beauty and diversity of these forms is apparent in the graphic black-and-white images of single leaves on view in “LOOKING AT LEAVES: PHOTOGRAPHS BY AMANDA MEANS,” which opens at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on May 9. What’s unusual is that the New York–based artist creates her oversized images (some as large as 50x60) without a camera; instead, she uses the leaves themselves as photographic negatives, placing each one directly in the enlarger. Describing her work via e-mail, Means writes, “I am very involved with traditional black-and-white photographic printing. I love the process and the light-filled images that result from working with these leaves.”

On the eve of a long hiatus for expansion and renovation, the Addison Gallery in Andover opens two big shows May 10, after which the museum will close its doors to the public until spring 2010. “CARROLL DUNHAM PRINTS: A SURVEY” and “THEN AND NOW” showcase the contemporary spirit and the historical sweep of the museum’s programming and collection. Dunham, who has been creating colorful, raucous, delightfully/freakishly cartoony paintings for more than 25 years, turns out to be a deft and versatile printmaker, as well; “Carroll Dunham Prints: A Survey” focuses on his graphic œuvre, with more than 100 prints dating from the 1980s to the present. “Then and Now” brings together paintings, drawings, photos, sculpture, and prints from the museum’s collection of American art, with fine examples of late-18th- through early-20th-century work plus more recent acquisitions.

Renovation is also in the air at the Harvard University Art Museums, where acclaimed architect Renzo Piano has been given the task of designing a new and improved home for the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Sackler under one roof (and a new umbrella name: the Harvard Art Museum). The Pritzker Prize–winning architect’s schematic design for the project is on view in “RENZO PIANO’S ART MUSEUM FOR HARVARD,” which opens at the Fogg on May 18. The press release warns, “While not a representation of the final design, the exhibition presents an important milestone in design progress. . . . ” This could continue to be a long process. BTW, it was recently announced that Piano’s design for expanding the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. We’ll see what gets built first!

“Looking at Leaves: Photographs by Amanda Means” at Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge | May 9–February 8 | 617.495.3045 | “Carroll Dunham Prints: A Survey” and “Then and Now” at Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover | May 10–July 13 | 978.749.4015 | “Renzo Piano’s Art Museum for Harvard” at Fogg Art Museum, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge | May 18–June 30 | 617.495.9400

On the Web
Harvard Museum of Natural History:
Addison Gallery:
Fogg Art Museum:

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