Under the Magnifying Glass: Small Works from the Permanent Collection

Under the Magnifying Glass: Small Works from the Permanent Collection

The genre known as miniature art typically refers to the rise of small portraits from 16th century Europe; however, the tradition of miniature art can be traced back as far as the 7th century in India where Buddhist texts were illustrated onto small palm leaves. In the 18th and 19th centuries in Mexico small paintings on tin known as votive paintings were produced by the thousands in workshops. Throughout the history of art, small works of art have continually charmed collectors and captivated viewers. What exactly is it that makes these tiny treasures so enchanting? While a large floor-to-ceiling painting might encourage us to stand back, small works tend to draw us in. As a result, they often create a special type of relationship. They can come across as impossibly precise like a piece of delicately wrought jewelry—It’s easy to imagine an artist hunched over a table working out the minute features of any of these tiny masterpieces. Their humble size can also give us something quite rare: the impression of sincerity. In a way, their miniscule details can feel intensely personal, like a whispered conversation between us and the artist. Maybe that’s what makes them so special. When so much of our attention is dominated by what’s loudest, boldest, or biggest, what could be more priceless than a secret?

DATES / 
7/8
11/21
CATEGORY / Multi-Media

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My Way: African American Art from the Black South
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