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January 28, 2015

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Speaking’ loudly: Latest Bellagio exhibit is the show to see


Untitled,” a 1973 Roy Lichtenstein silkscreen

Click to enlarge photo

Keith Haring, "Elvis Presley"


  • What: Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form
  • Where: Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art; 693-7871
  • When: Through Jan. 9; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday-Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Friday & Saturday
  • Cost: $15 ($12 for Nevada residents)

When you're part of a multi-billion-dollar corporation and you're looking to build an exhibit around the Picassos and Renoirs in your collection, what do you do?

If you're the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, you call the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego to see what they've got. Need a piece by fabric sculptor Nick Cave? Call Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City, and the artist will make one for your show.

The numbers are impressive: 40 paintings, 29 artists, three collections, four and a half months. That's the tally for the gallery's newest exhibit, Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form, which opened May 1 and runs through January 2011.

Curated by gallery director Tarissa Tiberti, the exhibit provides a broad look at the creative process from varying perspectives, art movements and diverse mediums.

If you've never been to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, now's the time—this is the show to see. It finds contemporary stars conversing with traditional masters over the theme of the human body. Moreover, Tiberti says, it speaks to ideals of the time and shows how artists—such as French fauvist Andre Derain and contemporary Japanese pop artist Yoshitomo Nara—were influenced by their surroundings.

It's a chance to take in, at once, Lichtenstein's "Art Critic," Picasso's "Woman With Beret," Derain's "Genevieve Taillade in an Orange Jacket" and iconic Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman portraits, while in the company of a Nara.

You know something big is happening when you turn from video artist Tony Oursler's "Stepfather" — a suspended orb with a large digital projection of a close-up moving eyeball and audio of television clips—to see Fernand Leger's "Les Amourex dans la Rues." (Leger's "L'Opera" is also in the show.) Alberto Giacometti, Joseph Cornell and Edward Degas are only a few footsteps away.

The exhibit isn't displayed by strict chronology, which is why you see Milton Avery next to Renoir and Hockney and across from Barbara Kruger. Not all works are among the artist's most important, but each is an important contribution to the exhibit as a whole, which was pieced together in a surprisingly short time, beginning in December.

Tiberti says MFA provided a list of available works. She hunted others down to bridge the gap from "point A to point B." The Picassos came from Bellagio's Picasso restaurant. A Lichtenstein, Hockney, Giacomettis and Legers came from the Mansion at MGM Grand. The Renoirs were part of the now-closed Renoir restaurant at the Mirage.

— Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly

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