Jeanne Quinn, Everything Is Not As It Seems, 2009, porcelain, wire, paint, electrical hardware, 138" x 204" x 288".

Jeanne Quinn, Interventions in the Midst of the Kemper Collection

Frank Stella, Cetology (C29, 1X), 1990, mixed media on aluminum and magnesium, 60 in. x 82 in. x 32 in. (152.4 cm x 208.28 cm x 81.28 cm).

Jeanne Quinn, A Thousand Tiny Deaths, 2009, black porcelain, balloons, string,,129" x 72" x 144".


Kemper at the Crossroads
33 West 19th Street
Kansas City
Jeanne Quinn: Ceramic In(ter)ventions
October 7, 2011-January 7, 2012


It is completely possible to glide right past Jeanne Quinn’s Rorschach Curtain, (2006, porcelain, wire, pins, paint), seduced by the glow of light coming from the larger installation immediately following, Everything Is Not As It Seems, 2009, (porcelain, wire, paint, electrical hardware). The promise of warmth and comfort from the reflection of the light on the deep red walls surrounding the installation, morphs into an eerie feeling when trying to identify the porcelain shapes: different-sized spheres (game balls of all sorts, or seed pods), some elongated and curved pieces bring to mind bones, animal carcasses — the smaller ones, evoking mythical sea creatures lend the impression of being underwater, and all these porcelain forms are strung together and draped by wire from the ceiling and from one another like auntie’s pearls. The bright lights perched throughout the installation make the ensemble into a chandelier, nearly touching the floor in places. Isolating specific sections and imagining them in their own two-story foyer, gets the viewer in on the creation.

In a 2008 article from American Craft, Quinn says she is, “interested in material as a metaphor,” and that the “space between objects is as expressive as the objects themselves.”A Thousand Tiny Deaths, 2009, (black porcelain, balloons, string), is not a work that one walks by quickly. The assemblage is alive, moving and changing, moment by moment, a tiny death eminent at all times. One hundred and nineteen silky black slip-cast pots hang from orange, red, and pink balloons inflated inside the neck of each pot and hung from the ceiling at different heights. As the balloons deflate, the pots lose purchase and are dashed on the platform below, the smaller bits splattering at the end of their performances. The former balloon anchors still wafting in the faint breeze suggest wads of chewed bubble gum, internal organs or cast-off condoms. The pots are several shapes repeated throughout; Grecian urns, pitchers, Roman vases, Fabregé eggs or Christmas ornaments. Some fall to the platform, yet survive, unbroken. Maybe they will be a part of another exhibition (have they learned how to survive?).

Beyond this exhibition, in its own space, selections from the Bebe and Crosby Kemper permanent collection are on display. A John Chamberlain sculpture, Apparently Offspring, 1992, (painted steel), is mere feet away from Frank Stella’s Cetology (c29, 1X), 1990, (mixed media on aluminum and magnesium), begging the question, “Why put these pieces so close? Is it to make us see how they are alike or how they are different?”

At first glance, there is a sense of similarity, but upon inspection, the Chamberlain gives the impression of a crumpled car bumper graffitied by so many passersby. Stella’s Cetology(c29, 1X), demands more scrutiny. Created by the assembling of many shapes, these shapes painted in different colors and styles, each with its own form calling out for recognition (a voluptuous female torso, a man’s plaid tie, a silver undulating airplane wing, the head of a stallion) as a whole, the piece becomes a fabled horse flying or galloping across the museum wall. Examining the piece from all angles, every surface is addressed with design. The circular base, covered in a pattern reminiscent of 1950’s linoleum flooring, strikes a nostalgic pang.

“The Chamberlain and the Stella have an energized form made from metal. The twists and turns of each create a dialogue that moves from the edges to the center of the work of art and back again,” says the Kemper Museum’s Chief Curator, Barbara O’Brien. “The energy of the shape and the colorful surface treatment creates a dynamic relationship with the clean lines of the gallery architecture. The viewer walking by will first engage with the Chamberlain, but the Stella draws the gaze toward the far wall of the gallery, creating a wonderful exchange between these two titans of the art world.”

Other pieces from the Kemper Permanent Collection on display include: Noberto Rodriguez’, Open 24 Hrs. (from the gifts I could never give you collection), 2004, (neon lamps and plexiglass – artist’s proof)), Nancy Graves’Columniary, 1981, ªbronze), Chakaia Booker’s El Gato, 2001, (rubber tire and wood), and Duane Hanson’s Salesman, 1992, •paint, polyvinyl, and clothing). This group of work is on display through April or May 2012. “For this showcase of sculptural works from the Kemper Museum permanent collection, I selected works that have a presence supporting the idea that at Kemper at the Crossroads, our new front door is the street,” says O’Brien. “The works are lit until well into the night as a recognition of the urban energy of the Crossorads district.”

John Chamberlain, Apparently Offspring, 1992, painted steel,48 in. x 70 in. x 56 in. (121.92 cm x 177.8 cm x 142.24 cm).