Welcome to WAM Updates

WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

We hope you like reading the Updates! If you are interested in learning about something specific, or have a suggestion for a WAM Update, please update us at wamupdates@worcesterart.org

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

This Weekend: The Unique Experience of "With Child"

This Saturday marks the opening of With Child: Otto Dix / Carmen Winant, my first exhibition as a guest curator for Worcester Art Museum. In the rush to put the finishing touches on the show, as well as the many events going on this week, I find myself pausing to reflect on its significance. I’ve known since the beginning of my research, now several years ago, that With Child would be a unique experience, offering our visitors a number of “firsts.” Here are a few highlights of this unique show:

Marcia Lagerway, standing between Dix's The Pregnant Woman (1931) and
Hippold-Ahnert's Sitting Pregnant Woman (1932, left).
  1. The first exhibition of Otto Dix to focus on the theme of pregnancy and childbirth, despite it being a theme he returned to many times throughout his career.  This, itself, provokes the question: why have critics ignored a theme that was clearly so important to him?
  2. The first to feature a dialogue between the works of a 20th-century German male artist (Otto Dix) and 21st-century American female artist (Carmen Winant). Each artist brings a unique perspective, while remaining dedicated to the goal of facing the experience of childbirth and pregnancy head-on.
  3. The first exhibition at WAM to provide, through both the labels and the brochure, a variety of voices of art and literary critics, journalists, medical practitioners, and Dix family members. Contributors include Dix scholar Olaf Peters, CUNY Art History professor Michelle Vangen, and the artist Carmen Winant herself.
  4. The first display outside of Germany of a painting by Gussy Hippold-Ahnert, master student of Otto Dix.  Her Sitting Pregnant Woman (1932) will be hung beside the Museum’s The Pregnant Woman (1931), depicting the same model from two different angles – Hippold-Ahnert’s revealing the model’s face.
  5. The first showing of Otto Dix’s Pregnant Woman (1966) outside of Germany.  This painting was his final nude portrait, and his last on this theme.
  6. The first visit to WAM by Otto Dix’s grandson, Leander Dix. He and artist Carmen Winant will be leading Opening Day tours of the exhibition at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. — this Saturday, September 21.  All tours are free with admission, but will be first-come first-served, so be sure to arrive early!
From left to right: Carmen Winant, Leander Dix and Marcia Lagerwey.

There is no “objective” curatorial voice on the walls in the exhibition, inviting visitors to draw their own conclusions and respond with their own feelings to this powerful theme in art. There is no “right” response to either the exhibition as a whole or to individual works, and we hope to encourage conversations in our exhibition response book, in the community exhibition located in the Higgins Education Wing, and in related programs.

With Child: Otto Dix / Carmen Winant is a focused exhibition with an unusual and relevant theme, and we look forward to welcoming you to it and hearing what you think and feel.

--Marcia Lagerwey
Guest Curator, With Child: Otto Dix / Carmen Winant
September 18, 2019

Recent WAM Updates