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Impressionism to Modernism: The Keithley Collection
Cleveland Museum of Art
September 9, 2022

The latest exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art is called Impressionism to Modernism: The Keithley Collection.

Clevelanders and beyond will know the Keithley Instruments company which was founded by Joseph F. Keithley in Cleveland in 1946. His first product, the "Phantom Repeater," amplified low-level electric signals so that they could be measured by more standard equipment. The device was used by physicists, chemists, and engineers in the development of hearing aids and amplifiers.

Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley

Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley

The company took off with the introduction of the second product - an electrometer. Now there are about 500 products with major product lines including testing and measurement products such as electrometers, voltmeters, signal generators, data acquisition, and production and benchtop parametric testers and analyzers. In 1964 they moved to Solon and later (2010) was sold and then merged so it now exists wholly as a brand of Tektronix Inc.

The Keithleys made an extraordinary gift and promised gift of more than 100 works of art, the most significant gift of art to the CMA in more than 60 years and it has been gathered into a new exhibition.

Keithley Collection Banner

This new exhibition runs from September 11, 2022 to January 8, 2023. It celebrates the extraordinary gift and promised gift of art made by Clevelanders Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley to the Cleveland Museum of Art. In March 2020, the Keithleys gave more than 100 works of art to the museum-the most significant gift since the bequest of Leonard C. Hanna Jr. in 1958.

It's not just a huge collection - it's very diverse and covers a lot of styles. The Keithleys' collection focuses on Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and modern European and American paintings.

Picasso from the Keithley Collection

Picasso from the Keithley Collection

Another Picasso

Another Picasso

You will see works by familiar names such as Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andrew Wyeth but if you are more of an amateur like me you will be exposed to some amazing works by new (to me) artists such as Maurice Denis, Georges Braque, Joan Mitchell and others. Plan on spending some time in each of the themed rooms.

Maurice Denis painting

Maurice Denis painting

Also included in the exhibition is a selection of European and American decorative arts. The Keithleys also collected Chinese and contemporary Japanese ceramics. In the exhibition, Asian ceramics are shown alongside Western paintings and drawings. That's how the Keithleys liked to display them.

Ancient Chinese Owl shaped jars

Ancient Chinese Owl shaped jars

It wasn't all haphazard. Throughout two decades of collecting, the Keithleys selected works of art to complement and enrich the CMA's collection. At times, the Keithleys built upon a strength in the museum's collection; on other occasions, they acquired a work of art that would bring something entirely new to the collection.

For example, 4 of these fruit prints from the 1800's were part of CMA's collection and the Keithley's gifted the others.

Britannica fruit art

Certain works of art from the Keithleys' are shown alongside other paintings, drawings or objects from the CMA's collection. It's really interesting.

I really liked this globe that doubles as a working space.

Globe workspace from Keithley collection

Another favorite is this piece that looks like origami with paper but is actually porcelain!

Porcelain origami in Keithley collection

A fun part of the exhibition is at the end where the CMA asks "What do you collect?"

What do you collect?

Visitors are encouraged to write/draw what they collect and share with others.

What do you collect? Keithley collection

What do you collect? Keithley collection

Can you imagine having these works in your home? Wow. Fortunately for all of us, the Keithley's generosity lets us enjoy these 100+ works of art. This new exhibition, Impressionism to Modernism: The Keithley Collection, will be displayed from September 11, 2022, to January 8, 2023 in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Here is a video of some of the collection and then a quick walk through of the Keithley Collection.

But if you can you should see it in person. More details and ticket information.


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