- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 9, 2006

Though the District’s fall art season doesn’t rival last year’s, there are still many arresting exhibitions to look forward to, among them the National Gallery of Art’s sensational “Constable’s Great Landscapes: The Six-Foot Paintings,” considered to be John Constable’s greatest works (Oct. 1-Dec. 31); the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s “Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas: Recent Sculptures” (Oct. 26-Jan. 7); and the American University Art Museum’s “Life After Death: New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection,” works from the acclaimed East German artist group (through Oct. 29).

The long-awaited “Manon Cleary: A Retrospective” at the Edison Place Gallery disproves the rule that museums exhibit the best art (PEPCO Building, Sept. 14-Oct. 27). One of the city’s most revered magic realists, Miss Cleary will show works from her phenomenal four-decade career. With this retrospective, she also challenges the belief that top Washington artists show only in New York.

Prior to the Constable opening, the National Gallery showcases “Streets of New York: American Photographs from the Collection, 1938-1958,” including Weegee, Bruce Davidson and Saul Leiter among the 20 featured masters (Sept. 17-Jan. 15). Other fall exhibitions there include “Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych” (Nov. 12-Feb. 4); “The Artist’s Vision: Romantic Traditions in Britain” (Nov. 19-March 18); and “Selections from the Collection of Edward R. Broida,” the prominent Los Angeles real estate developer who concentrated on modernist and contemporary masters (through Nov. 12).

Surprisingly, Washington’s youngest gallery, the American University Art Museum, presents one of the largest offerings of art this season. In addition to the Leipzig Paintings exhibit, shows (all on view Sept. 6-Oct. 29) include: “Eberhard Havekost: Paintings, Prints, and Photographs from the Rubell Family Collection”; “Photographs of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution”; “Mindy Weisel: Words on a Journey”; and “Athena Tacha: Small Wonders.”

As “The Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas: Recent Sculpture” proves, the Hirshhorn is never lacking in its commitment to experimental works. Though sculpture as a me- dium is neglected these days, the artists whose works have been chosen tie into its challenging parameters and the museum’s rich collection.

What’s more, the Hirshhorn has devoted its entire second floor to these adventurous explorations, which could be harbingers for sculpture’s future. These nine international artists respond to modernism and give it their own twists. Three of them — Rachel Harrison, Evan Holloway and Charles Long — have also been asked to select and create installations of specific museum sculptural works from the museum’s collection (Oct. 26-Jan. 7).

While the Hirshhorn presents today’s cutting-edge art, the Phillips Collection features its antecedents with “The Societe Anonyme: Modernism for America,” including such modernist highpoints as Joseph Stella’s “Brooklyn Bridge” and Franz Marc’s “Deer in the Forest I” (through Jan. 21).

The Textile Museum, as always, has several superior shows. Its first this fall is “Pieces of a Puzzle: Classical Persian Carpet Fragments.” These woven works are known for their “exquisite drawing, superior materials and distinctive knotting variations, but have received scant attention until now,” says museum director Daniel Walker (through Jan. 7).

Mr. Walker also mentions its fall landmark show: “Mantles of Merit: Chin Textiles from Mandalay to Chittagong,” the first of this Burma-Northeastern India-East Bangladesh group (Oct. 13-Feb. 25).

Regrouping after last year’s full season, the National Museum of Women in the Arts presents only one major show — though a good one — this fall: “Book As Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts” as a celebration of its landmark anniversary (Oct. 27-Feb. 4).

The Corcoran Gallery of Art, suffering from well-publicized money troubles, offers a single exhibit: “Redefined,” an overview of the museum’s modern and contemporary art collections (through Jan. 2).

“Perspectives: Simryn Gill” inaugurates the Arthur M. Sackler’s impressive season with this Australian, found-objects artist. She is showing in the U.S. for the first time as part of the new exchange program between the Sackler and the Australian Queensland Art Gallery (through April 29).

With “In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1009,” the Sackler celebrates the book called “the best-selling book of all time.” It’s an extraordinary survey of these historic religious works.

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