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December 06, 2018

Reinberger presents William Harper: The Beautiful & the Grotesque

Karen Sandstrom

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

CLEVELAND (Ohio)—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 at the Cleveland Institute of Art, 11610 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106.

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.

“We are so fortunate to be able to share Bill’s work,” says Nikki Woods, Reinberger Gallery director. “This show will be dazzling, but it also comes from a rich well of sources: mythology, literature, psychology, music, and inspiration that Bill has found throughout his travels. And although some of these pieces were crafted more than a decade ago, the collection feels thoroughly contemporary.”

Harper’s work is in collections that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, The Hermitage Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the V&A Museum, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among many others. His work is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition Jewelry: The Body Transformed through February 24, 2019.

Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, and a resident of New York City for many years, Harper earned his bachelor’s degree in an art education program offered jointly by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art; he earned his bachelor of science degree at CWRU.

Reinberger Gallery hours are:
Monday-Thursday: 10am-5pm
Friday: 10am-9pm
Saturday-Sunday: 12-5pm

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