We wouldn’t want to be the art handlers for Beth Lipman’s massively delicate exhibition at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Lipman’s tour-de-force installation at the museum, Sideboard with Blue China, measures almost 25’ wide and 10’ high and is made almost entirely of glass. It’s a stunning, large-scale homage to the extravagant, historic sideboard/bookcase designed by Bulkley and Herter in 1853. (The original was first shown at the Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in New York City in the 1850s. It’s now owned by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.)
In the Victorian era, sideboards were used as a way of displaying wealth and taste within the home. As Oscar Wilde wrote: “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.” Back then, not a single surface was left unadorned in an affluent home. Has much changed over the years? If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Real Housewives of (Pick Your City) and took a look around their McMansions, the answer is not much. Lipman’s exhibition Precarious Possessions is on view at MOWA until April 13, 2014.
Beth Lipman, Sideboard with Blue China, Glass, wood, paint, glue, light, 2013, courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery.