Ringling Goes "Beyond Bling" With Hip-Hop Themed Exhibition

"Beyond Bling: Voices of Hip-Hop in Art" will be on display at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art through August 14th.

Setting foot in “Rubens Room” at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is an awe-inspiring experience, to say the least. Five grand scale cartoon paintings by Baroque master, Peter Paul Rubens, dominate the walls of the spacious gallery. When standing before those masterpieces, it is not difficult to imagine being transported 500 years into the past to a time of kings and queens and monarchial opulence.

to travel deep into the museum to discover that word: Bling.

There is a contemporary slang word for the lavish trappings of affluence brought to life in the paintings of Rubens and the other Baroque and Renaissance painters that line the walls of the museum’s permanent collection, but you’ll need

Bling is defined as “material possessions, usually referring to flashy jewelry or cars” on the complimentary Hip-Hop vocabulary guide provided at the entrance of Ringling’s latest exhibition, “Beyond Bling: Voices of Hip-Hop in Art.”

he ubiquitous influence of the hip-hop movement on contemporary art and culture.

“Beyond Bling” may be a bold departure from the subdued elegance of the timeless paintings that hang in the main gallery, but the contemporary works of art on display promote the same awe-inspiring effect as those in the “Rubens Room” and beyond. The 10 artists featured in “Beyond Bling” succeed in seamlessly integrating their voices into the artistic dialogue present in the work of Baroque and Renaissance artists half of a millennia their senior, while simultaneously announcing t

Although most modern nations are no longer governed by the kings and queens of Rubens’ day, the work of three “Beyond Bling” artists, Kehinde Wiley, Sofia Maldonado and Mickalene Thomas, places a modern spin on the concept of royalty and luxury.

Wiley’s portrait, Simon George I, 2006, directly recalls the style of great 17th century portraitists such as Frans Hals or Rembrandt van Rijn. However, instead of featuring wealthy Anglo nobility as his subject, Wiley chooses to paint the modern African American man, whose face has been almost entirely absent from the discourse of western art history until recently.

Maldonado focuses on a different kind of modern royalty in her Concrete Jungle, 2010, series, which features portraits of contemporary pop culture queens such as Lady Gaga, Rhianna, J-Lo, Beyoncé, and M.I.A.

The exhibition also makes a direct comparison between Mickalene Thomas’ Naughty Girls (Need Love Too), 2009, and Peter Paul Rubens’ Danaë and the Shower of Gold, painted after 1618. Thomas borrows the theme of the reclining nude from Rubens and hundreds of other predecessors and jazzes it up with the “bling” – rhinestones and sexy, fashionable clothing – of her subject, an empowered African American woman.

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