Patricia Cronin, Aphrodite and the Lure of Antiquity:
Conversations with the Collection
Tampa Museum of Art
120 W. Gasparilla Plaza
August 16, 2018 - January 6, 2019
Patricia Cronin (American, b. 1963) is an internationally recognized Brooklyn-based artist uniquely suited to launch the Conversations with the Collection exhibition series. Winner of a Rome Prize in Visual Art in 2006-2007, and past Trustee of the American Academy in Rome, Cronin is deeply interested in the ancient world, which she frequently references in her work. For the first commission in this biennial series, Cronin has created Aphrodite Reimagined, a large outdoor sculpture of Aphrodite inspired by a fragmentary 1st-century AD marble torso of the goddess in the Museum’s collection. Cronin’s sculpture re-envisions the fragment as a monumental “complete” sculpture with a stone torso and translucent head, arms, and legs. Aphrodite Reimagined invites viewers to reconsider the narrative of an ancient artwork heavily restored after its rediscovery, and acts as a metaphor for shifting certainties about human history. On view inside the galleries are a smaller maquette version of Aphrodite Reimagined, together with the Tampa torso and an ancient head on loan from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Although not originally from the same sculpture, the head and torso were joined for many years, probably from soon after their discovery in the late eighteenth century until 1934, when an art dealer detached them from one another for separate sales. Also part of Cronin’s Aphrodite Reimagined series are a two-part cast glass sculpture, her first work in this medium, depicting the forms around an absent Aphrodite sculpture, and a new group of multi-layered paintings creating silhouetted ghosts of famous Aphrodite sculptures from museum collections all around the world.
In its second interior gallery, the exhibition continues to explore questions about presence and absence and the writing and rewriting of historical narratives today through juxtapositions of earlier work by Cronin with other Tampa Museum of Art antiquities. These include an Etruscan cinerary urn displayed alongside multiple iterations of Cronin’s 2002 sculpture Memorial to a Marriage, a powerful artwork that references ancient and neoclassical funerary monuments as well as contemporary issues of social justice. Additionally, numerous watercolors from Cronin’s Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found, A Catalogue Raisonné, together with fragmentary sculptures by the neoclassical sculptor Harriet Hosmer herself, resonate with ancient artworks, both in terms of form and subject matter.
The Tampa Museum of Art will publish an exhibition catalogue, which will include photographs of these visual conversations between classical, neoclassical, and contemporary artworks displayed side by side, later in the exhibition.
Seth Pevnick, Chief Curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art, says, “I am very excited to share with our visitors this contemporary look at ancient art. I often tell people how alive ancient art can be, and the opportunity to show some of the Museum’s antiquities alongside new work by Patricia Cronin will underscore this point. The juxtaposition of new and old artworks will be both beautiful and thought-provoking. I hope it will inspire artists and visitors to think about our own world and the worlds of the ancients in new and different ways.”
Artist Patricia Cronin says, "This invitation from the Tampa Museum of Art has provided me an unparalleled opportunity for research, experimentation, and invention for this new series of sculptures and paintings that reevaluate and subvert historical approaches to statuary and reinvent notions of the human, the heroic, and the divine.”