BOSTON COLLEGE McMULLEN MUSEUM OF ART HOSTS
The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women
and Their Salons
August 22 - December 4, 2005
CHESTNUT HILL, MA (8-05) — Beginning this month, the McMullen
Museum of Art at Boston College and the New Center for Arts and
Culture, Boston will present
The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their Salons. The exhibition was
organized by The Jewish Museum in New York, where it debuted in March and was
on display until July 10.
The McMullen Museum is the exclusive other venue for
this critically-acclaimed exhibition, which highlights the role
played by the salons of Jewish women in
the development of art, literature, music, theater, philosophy and politics in
Europe and America from the late 18th century through the Second World War. The
exhibition will be on display from August 22 through December 4, 2005. [See below
for more on the exhibition.]
“This compelling exploration of the emergence of modernisms viewed through
the lens of Jewish salonières takes on added meanings within the context
of a Jesuit Catholic University,” said McMullen Museum Director and Professor
of Art History Nancy Netzer. “The McMullen is grateful to the New Center
for Arts and Culture, and especially its director Shoshana Pakciarz, for proposing
a collaboration, which enhances possibilities for rewarding and productive dialogue
surrounding this inspired exhibition.”
[MEDIA EVENT: August 29: An opening
event for media, with an exhibition tour
by Shira Brisman—former curatorial assistant at The Jewish Museum and
project coordinator—will be held on Monday, August 29 at 11 a.m. For
more information, or to arrange attendance, please call the McMullen Museum
at (617) 552-8587.
Exhibition images available upon request from the McMullen Museum: call Naomi
Blumberg at (617) 552-4676.]
The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their
An important and radical vehicle for the "democratization of
the public sphere," the salon provided
a context in which nobility, artists and intellectuals exchanged ideas across
barriers of class, gender, nationality and religion. Salons enabled women
and Jews—whose participation in official public life was restricted—to
play a prominent role.
The exhibition probes the role private conversations
had in fostering the careers of celebrities such as Felix Mendelssohn,
Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde,
Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp and Greta Garbo.
The Power of Conversation,
which was organized for The Jewish Museum by guest curators Emily
Bilski and Emily Braun, focuses on the most powerful
who hosted these salons. According to exhibition organizers, the exhibition
these salonières as exceptional women who became major players in
the society, arts and politics of their times, despite their minority status,
examines the salon as a seat of power for women and a means of social ascent
for traditional outsiders.
Among the engaging women examined are: Henriette
Herz, one of the first Jewish women to host a salon; Amalie Beer and
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
of composer Felix Mendelssohn), who convened music salons in Berlin;
who assembled a group of avant-garde writers and artists in Paris; Ada
Leverson, who welcomed Oscar Wilde to her London salon; Margherita Sarfatti
Kulisicoff, who established salons in Italy in the early twentieth century;
and Florine Stettheimer
and Salka Viertel, who hosted their guests in salons in New York and
Los Angeles, respectively.
Organizers note that, through a detailed
documentation of the celebrities and geniuses who attended their
salons (and wrote about them), of the
hung on the walls or debuted in their homes, and of careers and relationships
made and broken, The Power of Conversation demonstrates the
uniquely public domain of the private salonière.
comprises more than 150 objects, including portraits of the salonières
and their guests, manuscripts, musical scores, sculpture, paintings,
drawings, books, photographs, furniture and films. Exhibition highlights
include nine oil
paintings by the New York-based American artist and salonière
Florine Stettheimer; 14 drawings by Wilhelm Hensel which include Michael
Beer, Niccolò Paganini,
Goethe, Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Rahel Varnhagen (née Levin);
and works by Gustav Klimt, Auguste Rodin, Achille Funi, Moritz Daniel
Oppenheim, Max Beerbohm,
Aubrey Beardsley and Josef Hoffmann.
According to organizers, by the
mid-20th century, movies, television and radio had largely replaced
the role salons had played in facilitating
and dialogue. In addition, the need for salons by women and Jews
disappeared with political and social emancipation.
the exhibition may hear conversations, music, memoirs and letters
of the hostesses and their salon guests on an audio guide
of charge. A fully illustrated catalogue, published by Yale University
Museum, with essays by scholars—including the two co-curators,
Emily D. Bilski and Emily Braun—accompanies the exhibition
and is available through the Boston College Bookstore (www.bc.edu/bookstore).
To celebrate the exhibition, an event for invited guests
will be held on Sunday, September 25. The evening will include
a lecture by Emily Braun, exhibition co-curator and professor of
College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York;
and a performance by Annette Miller from "A Salon of One's
Own," a specially-commissioned
short play by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro.
On Tuesday, September 20,
the public is invited to join members of the Boston College community
at a celebration from 7-9 p.m.
reception and exhibition viewing, music by BC’s popular
jazz band, BC bOp!, and remarks at 8 p.m. at the McMullen Museum.
[Those interested in attending are requested
to RSVP by calling (617) 552-8587 or by emailing the Museum at
Accompanying Public Programs
The following—all free and
open to the public—are among the programs
which will accompany the exhibition:
Tuesday, October 11 at 7 p.m.: BC Professor Dwayne Carpenter,
Romance Languages and Literatures Department (Funny They Don’t
Look Jewish: Confusing Converts in Medieval Spain)
1 at 7 p.m. (extended Museum hours: 6-10 p.m.): Lowell Humanities
Lecture series: Catharine R. Stimpson, Dean
School of Arts & Sciences, New York University (Gertrude
Stein: Woman of Faith?)
Devlin Hall, room 026, 7 p.m.
Transforming Lives: Women in Focus – a two-part film series
“The Nasty Girl”
Tuesday, September 27
Discussion following screening with director Anna Rosmus
“Thunder in Guyana”
Thursday, November 17
Discussion following screening with director, Suzanne Wasserman
Two concerts—one by the Hawthorne String Quartet, BC Artists-in-Residence—will
be held in conjunction with the exhibition. One—“A Single Bright
Beam,” which will be held on Sunday, September 25 at 3 p.m. in Gasson Hall
room 100—will be devoted to the music of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn.
Jewish Civilization and its Place in the World
Sunday, October 2, 2005, 3-6 p.m.
Gasson Hall room 100 (refreshments)
Conducted in the style of a Salon, this event brings together
Boston College faculty and students and the Boston community
for a moderated conversation
about the nature of “Jewish civilization” and its place in history
and contemporary culture. The Boston College faculty moderators include: Prof.
Dwayne Carpenter (Romance Language and Literatures Department); Prof. Maxim
D. Shrayer (Slavic & Eastern Languages and English
Departments); Boston College faculty participants Prof. Donald Dietrich (Theology
Department), Prof. Donald Fishman (Communication Department), Prof. Ruth Langer
(Theology Department), Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts Department) and Prof.
Nancy Netzer (Fine Arts Department).
Irish American Women
Sunday, October 30, 2005, 7-9 p.m.
Devlin Hall room 101
Panelists include: Ruth-Ann Harris, Boston College Irish Studies
Program; Hasia Diner, professor, Hebrew & Judaic Studies Department, NYU; Joyce Antler,
professor, American Studies Department, Brandeis University.
The New Center for Arts and Culture, Boston has also organized “salon visits” to
the exhibitions for school groups and a series of public programs to accompany
the exhibition to be held at various locations throughout greater Boston. For
more information, see www.ncacboston.com or contact Harron Ellenson, Harron & Associates,
Affirmation, Indifference, Assimilation: Identity Choices
of Jewish Salonières--and
of Jews Today
Thursday, October 27, 7:30-10 p.m. (extended Museum hours until 7:30 p.m.)
Devlin Hall room 101
Participants: Moderator, Gail Reimer, Founding Director, Jewish Women’s
Archive; Emily Braun, Exhibition co-curator; Deborah Hertz, Herman Wouk Chair
in Modern Jewish Studies, University of California, San Diego.
and Boston Presenters
This exhibition has been organized by The Jewish Museum,
New York, and was made
possible in part by the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and
the Dorot Foundation. It is presented at the McMullen Museum of Art by Boston
and by New Center for Arts and Culture, Boston with support from the Dorot
in 2001, The New Center for Arts and Culture is a groundbreaking multi-disciplinary
center for the visual and performing arts and the humanities. Its purpose is
to build community using the arts to foster dialogue and exploration, creating
a cultural commons that becomes a vital force in building “One Boston Through
Arts and Culture.” Sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater
Boston and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, it is an organization
committed to creating common ground for all. In the fall of 2004, The New Center
was awarded a site on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, one of the most desirable locations
in downtown Boston. Designed by the world-renowned architect, Daniel Libeskind,
its building will be a unique Boston landmark. Until its permanent
home is completed, the New Center is operating as a “cultural center without
walls,” partnering with other area institutions to present important public
programs consistent with its “One Boston” mission. For more information
on NCAC, and its sponsorship of this exhibition, see www.ncacboston.com or contact
Harron Ellenson, Harron & Associates, at (617)-267-7366.
McMullen Museum of
The McMullen Museum is renowned for organizing interdisciplinary
exhibitions that ask new questions and break new ground in the display and
scholarship of the works on view. It serves as a dynamic educational
resource for all of
New England as well as the national and the international community. The Museum
displays its notable permanent collection and mounts exhibitions of international
scholarly importance from all periods and cultures of the history of art.
Charles S. and Isabella V. McMullen Museum of Art was named in 1996 in honor
of the late parents of Boston College benefactor, trustee and art collector
John J. McMullen. In keeping with the University’s central teaching mission,
the Museum’s exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues and related
public programs. The 10th anniversary of the formal reopening of the Museum was
marked in 2003-04.McMullen Museum Hours and Tours Admission to the McMullen Museum
is free; it is handicapped accessible and open to the public. The Museum is located
in Devlin Hall on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus, at 140 Commonwealth Avenue.
from August 22 through September 4: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Hours from September 6 through December 4: Monday
through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
on the following dates: September 5, October 10, November 24-25. No parking
on the following Saturdays: September 10 and 17, October 1, 8
and 15, November
Group tours will be given on Sundays at 12:30 p.m., and may be arranged upon
request; call (617) 552-8587. For directions, parking and program information,
visit www.bc.edu/artmuseum or call (617) 552-8100.