Perhaps it is because we are such visual beings — driven by the things we can see — that our obsession with light has manifested in the art we create for millennia. This “quest by humanity and artists to understand physical light in the natural world as well as metaphorical, spiritual and divine representations of light,” as the Denver Art Museum (DAM) put it, can be experienced in nearly every art form. Starting May 19 with the first installment, the DAM’s exhibition The Light Show will showcase about 250 objects that reflect that quest.
This first stage of the exhibit focuses on physical light — like the revolutionary Impressionism movement where artists painted en plein air (or outdoors) in order to capture the individuality of a scene without artificial lighting. The second stage, which debuts at the museum on June 2, will shift to the presentation of symbolic light — ranging from depictions of spirituality to the abstract use of light as an artistic medium.
Artworks will include ancient sculptures, paintings, photography, textiles and contemporary installations. All of the pieces have been brought together by the nine curatorial departments at the DAM and is co-curated by Rebecca Hart and Jorge Pérez. This is a special occasion, to have all of the separate departments working collaboratively. It will undoubtedly make for an exhibition that will hold even a distracted person’s attention.
Some of the teasers the DAM has released include work from the celebrated landscape photographer Ansel Adams, a lamp from Italian designer and architect Ettore Sottsass, an installation made of found bottle tops and copper wire by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui and a painting by American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam.
The Light Show will be included in general admission to the museum and will be on view (in its entirety) from June 2, 2019 to May 3, 2020.