There’s the iconic Marilyn Monroe portrait, and of course the red Campbell’s soup can. Not many people can say they actually sat for pop culture artist Andy Warhol – but the Bechtler’s – the Charlotte area family who helped create a museum of all the incredible art they’d collected – did just that and those portraits have become the cornerstone of the uptown museum.
The BECHTLER MUSEUM OF MODERN ART has been open for six years now, and is about to experience a resurgence thanks to a new show and a new curator. From September 30 – April 23, 2017, the Bechtler will present the Bechtler Collection: Relaunched and Rediscovered, an exhibition expanding on works from the museum’s collection including modern and contemporary artists.
New curator Jen Sudul Edwards came to Charlotte from L.A. a year and a half ago and gave us the scoop on how she ended up here and what not to miss in the new collection.
You were living in LA and moved your family across country to work at the Bechtler, what made you do that?
I did my dissertation on French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle who did the Firebird that sits in front of the museum. She’s internationally very well known, she has quite a reputation around the world. But she’s not well known here in the US where she was raised, so the fact that the Bechtler had the sculpture and had several pieces of hers, that made it a notable institution for me.
What sets the Bechtler apart from other museums in Charlotte?
The collection is very unusual for the United States, it has a lot of European artists. The museum does a great job of bringing these previously unknown artists to the US.
The museum is finishing up work under a grant that is helping put information about these collections online, what does that mean to the larger Charlotte community?
This is the first time we’ll have a comprehensive collection where all the works are photographed and put online along with the artists’ bios. It was a private collection; many of these works have never been seen because they were in the Bechtler home. Many people don’t even know about it because Andreas had cottages on his property where the artists would work and created this amazing body of work. This helps bring attention to Charlotte and the museum that we didn’t have before.
What would you say are some of the must see-pieces?
In this show, I would say the Andy Warhol portraits of the family. We also have family photo albums that document the family taking pictures of Warhol taking pictures of the family. It’s the most obvious piece – he’s the most popular American artist nationally and internationally and there is still a lot to be mined there. He’s a legitimately interesting artist, it’s not just the bright colors. There is a storytelling to all the pieces. Also Eduardo Chillida – he was a basque artist – he is strongly represented in the show. He’s a beautiful writer and his work has a lot of sculptures (ceramic and steel) and there are some drawings. There is one piece, a very large print, – it’s giant and he actually told the Bechtlers how to frame it. It’s framed in a very unusual way!
What does it mean to have a museum like the Bechtler here in Charlotte?
It’s a great addition to this burgeoning scene. I love that we’re part of art institutions on Levine, I really buy into the collaborative nature of this corner. I think we contribute something to the community that broadens its perspective and gives a sense of context that is particularly important right now as the country tries to become more and more internationally focused.
As something of a newbie, what are some of your favorite things about the Queen city?
I love the McColl Center for Art and Innovation. I love hanging out in the artists’ studios. I also love the Whitewater center, I have to give a shout out to where I spend every Sunday! I love Rooster’s, that’s where I bring all my visitors from out of town, and I love taking people to the Diamond in Plaza Midwood.
On Friday, October 21 Bechtler By Night will present
Dia De Los Muertos, a Day of the Dead celebration.
This Bechtler By Night offers you the perfect opportunity to experience the new Bechtler Collection: Relaunched and Rediscovered.
During Bechtler By Night, you may explore the museum galleries for free from 5-9 p.m. with food, drinks, music and more.
Bechtler By Night takes place every 3rd Friday of the month.