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William Harper: The Beautiful & the Grotesque

April 04
June 14 2019

Where Cleveland Institute of Art, Reinberger Gallery

Treasure box by William Harper

William Harper, Treasure Box

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There are painters who are craftsmen; there are jewelers who are artists. I maintain that the finest art, in any medium, results from those who are both artists and craftsmen.
— William Harper

In the world of artist William Harper’s vibrant and improvisational jewelry, craftsmanship and concept are always entwined. Now visitors to the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery may experience his singular visual voice in William Harper: The Beautiful & the Grotesque, a 20-year retrospective running April 4 through June 14, 2019.

The more than 60 works of art on view will include Harper’s exquisitely crafted fine jewelry; display boxes built from assemblages of found objects; paintings; and Japanese-style folding books. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8pm Thursday, April 4.

The catalog of the exhibition can be purchased online or in the gallery during the run of the exhibition. It includes an essay by curator, writer and historian Glenn Adamson, author of Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects. It also documents every work in the exhibition and includes a checklist, CV and commentary by Harper on the themes of his work.

Driven by an intense love for the material process, Harper enters his studio with improvisational spirit, allowing each move to inspire the next. His lush objects combine unexpected materials, including plastic beads, nails, and bone as well as pearls, jewels, precious metals, and enamel. The exhibit's title, The Beautiful & the Grotesque, underscores the tension between high and low, between precious and disposable, and between what draws and repels a viewer.

This exhibition is made possible through generous support from Scott Mueller and Dealer Tire, The Louise H. and David S. Ingalls Foundation, the John P. Murphy Foundation, Sherwin-Williams, Martha Fleischman, and Pamela Argentieri '87 and Matthew Hollern.


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Cleveland Institute of Art
Reinberger Gallery
11610 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

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Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

Cleveland Institute of Art is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.