December 11 – January 30
, NEW MEXICO — Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Jan Adlmann: Latter-Day Fabergé.
Jan Ernst Adlmann is a Santa Fe resident well-known as a former museum director and curator, lecturer and writer, whose strange and wonderful sculptures have attracted a strong following over the past ten years. While “zany” is a word that almost always falls flat, it seems almost muted when used to discuss the tremendous enthusiasm that courses through Adlmann’s inventive creations.
For this exhibition, Adlmann will present both new work and a selection of past favorites on loan from some of his collectors in New Mexico.
“I thought it would be fun to wear two different hats, selecting twelve pieces of mine from past shows as a curator, and creating the other half of the show as an artist,” Adlmann said.
Adlmann spent many years as an art museum director and organizer of international exhibitions, before returning to Santa Fe and emerging as an artist a decade ago. As one might expect from an art historian, he creates art inspired by Renaissance wunderkammers, or “cabinets of curiosities” rooms dedicated to eclectic collections of art and curiosities. Or, as Adlmann describes them, “The keen collector strove to assemble ‘the world and all it has brought forth,’ with the first emphasis always being on the strange and unnatural.”
Adlmann grew up in the fishing town of Rockland, Maine, the same town as famed sculptor and assemblagist Louise Nevelson, thus, from his childhood, and from early acquaintance with Nevelson and her work, he was predisposed to the use of found materials in art. While Adlmann always felt frustrated when painting or drawing during his years as a museum director – “I had so much information on one side of the brain that told me that, say, Matisse did it better” – once he started working with found objects himself, he finally had a medium that allowed him to fashion his own art objects.
“It is liberating and gratifying and stimulating, because it is a different outlet for my creativity besides writing,” Adlmann said. “This is something entirely from left field, all instinctual and unpretentious.”
Adlmann also draws on a fascination with the history and technology of the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos, N.M., where he acquires many of the high-tech, cast-off materials used in his art.
“The ‘curiosities’ I have assembled from found material are, I hope, either just that, or just thingamajigs that demonstrate how change of context, change of purpose and odd juxtapositions, when manipulating almost any materials, can sometimes result in consternation, delight or befuddlement,” Adlmann writes.
It can take years for one of the artist’s finds to work its way into an assemblage, as Adlmann is constantly trying different combinations of items. Most recently, he has taken a particular interest in the famously imaginative, luxury jewelers, such as Fabergé.
Adlmann’s credentials are as impressively diverse as his materials. Author of the 1996 book, Contemporary Art in New Mexico, Adlmann is a former assistant director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He has also served as director at the Vassar College Art Gallery, the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Tampa Art Museum and the Wichita Art Museum. He earned his M.A. in art history from New York University and also studied at the University of California and the Universities of Berlin and Vienna.
The artist has had solo exhibitions in Santa Fe at Fred Kline and Lewallen Contemporary and also was granted a residency at Vienna’s Museums-Quarter compound. His deepest area of expertise is in 19th and 20th century European art. Adlmann has organized many international exhibitions, including a show of 40 New Mexican artists for SITE Santa Fe and “Vienna Moderne: 1898-1914” at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Museum in 1980, for which Austria presented him with its Knight’s Cross decoration. Adlmann’s annual lecture series through the New Mexico Museum of Art has gained an enthusiastic following. He often lectures internationally and has contributed to major publications such as Art in America, Art News and Museum News.