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Explore 21st Century Notions of the Sublime in Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings

Chaos and Awe features 50 paintings from more than 30 national and international artists

NORFOLK, VA. (Sept. 25, 2018) — The Chrysler Museum of Art will present a sweeping survey of contemporary art from around the world with Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century. Organized by Frist Art Museum’s Chief Curator Mark Scala, the exhibition is on view Nov. 16, 2018–April 28, 2019 and celebrates painting’s capacity to weave together images of physical reality, memories, emotions and the virtual world. Artists in the exhibition dramatically describe the destabilizing effects of current forces such as globalism, mass migration, radical ideologies and the rapid expansion of technology. These forces are so powerful that they can cause fright or excitement with the promise of new human possibilities.  Chaos and Awe’s thesis stems from the 18th century philosophical idea of the sublime, feeling overwhelmed by the immeasurable nature of God and the natural world.

“Audiences who visit Chaos and Awe will be introduced to an incredible number of international artists. Many of these artists are major figures within contemporary art in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America, and their works rarely come to the Hampton Roads area,” said Kimberli Gant, Ph.D., the Chrysler’s McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.  “Moreover, visitors will see breathtaking paintings. These works have real visceral power and intense social commentary.”

Organized in seven sections, the exhibition begins with No Place, a meditation on complex systems such as international finance and communications technologies. While they connect people around the world, they also open doors to cybercrime and fake news. Paintings in Shadows and Collisions express the unease, fear and feelings of fragmentation and loss in response to racism, nationalism and conflicting belief systems. Interzone explores the anxieties, pleasures and new perspectives as cultures come together in vibrant cross-fertilization. Virtuality relates to the impact of the digital age, in which the boundaries between reality and cyberspace become increasingly undefinable. Paintings in The Boundless depict fleeting phenomena such as atmosphere, fluid and smoke as symbols of the uncontainable vastness of the human imagination. The exhibition concludes with Everything, where works convey the deep thirst for worldviews that can accommodate multiple understandings, including links across cosmos.

The profound nature of the subject matter, paired with the masterly technique on display, may overwhelm, disturb and thrill audiences. These reactions affirm the enduring ability of painting to communicate nascent and often unnamable ideas, emotions and sensations.

Artists in Chaos and Awe include: Ahmed Alsoudani, Ghada Amer, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Radcliffe Bailey, Ali Banisadr, Pedro Barbeito, Jeremy Blake, Matti Braun, Dean Byington, Hamlett Dobbins, Nogah Engler, Anoka Faruqee, Barnaby Furnas, Ellen Gallagher, Wayne Gonzales, Wade Guyton, Rokni Haerizadeh, Peter Halley, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Rashid Johnson, Guillermo Kuitca, Heather Gwen Martin, Jiha Moon, Wangechi Mutu, James Perrin, Matthew Ritchie, Rachel Rossin, Pat Steir, Barbara Takenaga, Dannielle Tegeder, Kazuki Umezawa, Charline von Heyl, Sarah Walker, Corinne Wasmuht and Sue Williams.

Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century was organized by the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee. This exhibition is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.


After Hours in Chaos and Awe

Thursday, January 17, 2019

6:30 p.m. ? Free

Explore Chaos and Awe’s themes of globalism, mass migration, the expansion of technology and more with Mark Scala, Chief Curator at the Frist Art Museum. Register at


Chaos and Awe Dance Performance

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Noon, 2 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.? Free

See original choreography inspired by the works on view in Chaos and Awe when Todd Rosenlieb Dance and Virginia Ballet Theater present performances that will be accompanied by live music. See them in the gallery at noon and 2 p.m. and in Huber Court at 3:30 p.m.


Gallery Talk: The Sublime in the Chrysler’s Collection

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2 p.m. ? Free

Brock Curator of American Art Corey Piper, Ph.D. will uncover the historical legacy of the Sublime within the Chrysler’s American collection and explore its influence on contemporary art and the artists featured in Chaos and Awe.




The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. The Museum has growing collections in many areas and mounts an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibitions and educational programs each season. The Chrysler has also been recognized nationally for its unique commitment to hospitality with its innovative gallery host program.

The Perry Glass Studio is a state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. The studio offers programming for aspiring and master artists alike in a variety of processes including glassblowing, fusing, flameworking, coldworking and neon. The studio has also cultivated a reputation for its cutting-edge performance evenings, and was the host venue of the 2017 Glass Arts Society Conference.

In addition, the Chrysler Museum of Art administers two historic houses in downtown Norfolk: the Moses Myers House and the Willoughby-Baylor House, as well as the Jean Outland Chrysler Library on the campus of Old Dominion University. General admission is free at all venues. For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit

Contact Amber Kennedy
(757) 340-7425

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