The Art of Music

The Art of Music presents a multifaceted and culturally diverse exploration of the intersection between music and art.  This exhibition celebrates the centennial of Balboa Park, home of the San Diego Museum of Art, paying tribute to the daily musical performances held in the park during the yearlong 1915 Panama–California Exposition. Throughout history and around the globe, music has been a source of inspiration for visual art in a wide variety of ways. The Art of Music highlights the complex relationships between these prominent and intertwining branches of creative expression, combining works from the Museum’s permanent collection with loans from major museum and private collections. Included in the exhibition are works of art by Pablo Picasso, Chuck Close, Rufino Tamayo, and Henri Matisse. Altogether, the exhibition includes over 200 works of art including paintings, sculptures, textiles, and examples of contemporary video, installation, and sound art, and musical instruments.

Spanning media, time, and culture, The Art of Music is focused around three central themes. The Musician as Motif examines the motif of the musician and the symbolic nature of this figure in works as diverse as Greek terracotta figures, Chinese metalwork, and Western portraits of celebrated musicians. Through these we will present a visual history of the meanings associated with musicians, muses, and the individual artist at different moments and in different cultural contexts. The second section, Social Intersections of Art and Music, considers the social function of music and its public and private rituals. This spans depictions of musical performances at the court and in the theater, designs for the opera and ballet, and works portraying musical scenes of everyday life. Formal Connections of Art and Music, the third and final section, explores representations of the sounds, emotions, and sights of music, from Indian Ragamala paintings to modern and contemporary interpretations of the colors and forms evoked by music.

John Baldessari, Beethoven’s Trumpet (with Ear) Opus #127, 2007. Foam, resin, aluminium, cold bronze, and electronics. Courtesy of John Baldessari and Beyer Projects. © Christie’s Images/Bridgeman Images.