New Opportunities for Enlightenment

Spencer Finch's
Spencer Finch's "Cloud (H2O)" is featured in "Refract, Reflect, Project" at the Hirshhorn Museum. Below, a Cameroonian mask from "African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection" at the National Museum of African Art. (Courtesy Of The Artist)
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Two very different exhibits open today in Washington, one a proud showcase of a large gift of sculpture from none other than Disney, the other a quiet assemblage of installations and other works in which art is all in the experience.

The National Museum of African Art picked 88 pieces from the 525 it received from the Walt Disney World Co. in 2005 for the show "African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection." The works, many of them from the 19th and 20th centuries, were gathered beginning in the 1950s by the late developer Paul Tishman and his wife, Ruth, before being sold to Disney in the 1980s. The collection spans 75 ethnic groups and 20 countries, and includes ivories and sculpture that were among the first African artworks ever shown at the Louvre. Free. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 7, 2008. 950 Independence Ave. SW. 202-633-1000.

The Hirshhorn's "Refract, Reflect, Project: Light Works From the Collection" compiles works by such artists as Dan Flavin, Hiroshi Sugimoto and James Turrell into a show that is as heavy on the science as it is on the fluorescent tubes. Spencer Finch's charming "Cloud (H2O)" is made of special fixtures representing the molecular makeup of water; Olafur Eliasson's "Round Rainbow" is a prism, fracturing light into its colored parts.

Bathing in light, and in the experience, is what this show is all about. For context, catch a talk tomorrow with the show's curator, Anne Ellegood, who will highlight specific works at 12:30 p.m. Free. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Through April 8. Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. 202-633-4674.

-- Lavanya Ramanathan

© 2007 The Washington Post Company