Among the largest and oldest art museums in the US, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a pilgrimage site for modern and contemporary art professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world, due in part to its extensive holdings of the work of Marcel Duchamp, as well as its Constantin Brancusi sculptures. Through innovative exhibitions and programs, the museum has stayed true to its roots as a teaching institution and to the belief that the arts can positively transform society.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art organized Notations/William Kentridge: Tapestries, the first exhibition of the South African artist William Kentridge's tapestries to be presented in the US. Kentridge created a series of woven works using locally spun mohair, in collaboration with the Johannesburg-based Stephen Tapestry Studio. The imagery, originating from Kentridge's drawings, was comprised of shadowy figures made from ripped construction paper that were collaged onto 19th-century atlas maps. The works evoked the political and cultural volatility characterizing recent South African history, while alluding to a global condition of transit and transition. Filling two galleries, the ten tapestries hung alongside Kentridge's related drawings, bronze sculptures, etchings, and an artist book. The exhibition was the fourth and most ambitious installment of the Museum's "Notations" series, providing the organization an opportunity to challenge its traditional interpretive strategy.