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Masters of Disguise

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Masters of Disguise

March 22, 2008 - July 20, 2008

Mint Museum of Craft + Design


CHRIS THEISS. American, 1967- 

On the Bridge 1989

slab-built and coil-built earthenware, sgraffito 

Allan Chasanoff Ceramic Collection. 2001.92.9A-C


          The human race has been preoccupied with the concept of disguise since the beginning of time as a theatrical, ceremonial, and dress component. One of the earliest known depictions of masking was found on the wall of the cave Les Trois Frères in Ariège, France. Dating to approximately 15,000 B.C. the image, known as the “Sorcerer of Trois Frères”,  illustrates an upright man wearing the ears and horns of a stag. In the modern age we are surrounded by a variety of disguises. Daily we camouflage ourselves by changing dress, assuming an alternate identity, or simply by obscuring our true nature. Masters of Disguise explores various forms of concealment, many of the works are from the Mint Museums’ collection. The seventy-four selected works, which range from an ancient American chocolate vessel to contemporary trompe l’oeil ceramic sculpture, examine the human relationship with disguise as well as disguised forms, materials and environments.


Masters of Disguise Scavenger Hunt - Print out your list of items to find before you come!

MoD Scavenger Hunt.pdf 


Selections from the Exhibition

(Click thumbnails for larger images)




French, 1592-1635

Masked Dwarf with Saber

from “Varie Fugure di Gobbi (Grostesque Dwarfs).”


2.50 x 3.38 in

Gift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary.  



American, 1959-

Soundsuit  2007

beaded and sequined body suit

with metal armature and metal Victorian flowers

84 x 39.6  x 24”

Lent by artist.  [not exact suit-similar piece]



American, 1945-2006

Love Canal #2  1991

panoramic photo collage with 3-D photographs

26.25 x 35.75 in

Gift of Nancy Hayashi.  1993.41


American, 1947-

White Forest  1989

oil on canvas

84.00 x 72.00 in

Gift of the Artist 

in honor of Mark Richard Leach.  1993.8


American, 1954-


Limoges, France 1771-

Madame de Pompadour (née Poisson) Soup Tureen  1990

hand-painted and screen-printed porcelain

Museum Purchase:  Charlotte Debutante Club Fund. 



Selected Artist Resources - Print and Online


Jacques Callot - " Although his work appears to be factual and based on historical events, on closer examination Callot's concern for humanity is shown to be his true motivation. He uses his extensive technical and artistic mastery to impart a deeper, and perhaps morality-based, message." - Tansy Curtin

  • Artist website (in French) (website is no longer available).
  • A brief biography from the Getty Museum site
  • The Prints of Jacques Callot at the University of Pittsburgh - extensive online images
  • Russell, H. Diane (Helen Diane). " Jacques Callot prints & related drawings". Washington : National Gallery of Art, 1975. NE650.C3.U52 1975
  • Callot, Jacques, 1592-1635. Callot's etchings. New York : Dover Publications, 1974. NE2049.5.C3 D36

Nick Cave - " Cave states that once a person is wearing one of these suits, they are able to take on an altered personality and it is incredible how a person is transformed and compelled to move in new, experimental ways that may be quite foreign to their normal personality. ' - Beth Blahut

  • Nick Cave cover article (link is no longer available) from Ornament magazione online (volume 31, no. 2)
  • News article about Nick Cave's solo exhibition at the Society of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Biography - University of Wisconsin's Artist in Residence (1999)

Masumi Hayashi - "Masumi Hayashi's panoramic photo collages explore the incongruity between appearance and reality in the American experience...Without overt or critical commentary, they explore both the surface and the reality behind such places, wether they be panoramic landscapes or haunting interiors" - Karin Higa

Jacqueline Hayden - "By creating these fantastic images, Hayden is examining what is true and false in photography and in reality" - Jacqueline Arendse


Cheryl Laemmle - "Her art helped define something of a neighborhood esthetic tone, which was at once optomistic and pessimistic, buoyant and bleak"- Michael Brenson

  •  New York Times review from a 1991 show


Marilyn Ann Levine - "Of her work, Marilyn said I want your visual sense to tell you something different from your tactile sense, and then experience the dilemma that  that presents you with. "


Cindy Sherman - "She was always alone, often in disguise, so that she became everyone and no one" - Nancy Kay

  • Artes Magnes description of Sherman's Limonges porcelain tureen which follows the original design commissioned by Madame de Pompadour (nee Poisson) in 1756 at the Manufacture Royale de Serves. Sherman is disguised as the  Madame which parallels her photographic commentary on the role of the artist and the role of women. The replication of a rare object brings into question both form and function.
  • Biography from the Guggenheim Museum
  • Artist information from the Clara Database of Women Artists (National Museum of Women in the Arts)
  • Holzer, Jenny, 1950-. Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman : personae. Cincinnati, Ohio : Contemporary Arts Center, c1986. N6537.H577 A4 1986b     
  • Sherman, Cindy. (c1984). Cindy Sherman. New York : Pantheon Book. TR654. S477 1984
  • Sherman, Cindy. (c1984). Cindy Sherman : working girl : decade series 2005. St. Louis, Mo. : Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. TR647 .S46839 2005

Kiff Slemmons - " In our throwaway culture, repair is not necessarily highly regarded as a means of solving problems. Better to throw away than to fix. But more is thrown away than meets the eye. What is also lost is what can be learned from trying to fix something, and the satisfaction of rendering it useable or refreshing it in some way".

  •  Article (link is no longer available) from Ornament magazine on her "Re: Pair & Imperfection" exhibition. The catalog from this traveling exhibition is available in the Mint library.


Chris Theiss - "Personal places are my subject matter. These familiar spaces that surround me in the present and resonate in my memory are deconstructed and then reconstructed into new forms"

  •  Kltworks.com, an online studio owned and operated by Kristen Loffer Theiss, has a page of Chris Theiss' artwork.


Tina Rath - " " What powers do materials have? Why does gold intoxicate us? What is it about a diamond that is so compelling ? Why does fur draw us near, begging us to touch it, feel it, wanting to wrap ourselves in it ?

  •  Read about this metalsmith and see more examples of her work at Sienna Gallery. Maine College of Art


Philomena Williamson - "The figures are involved in their own drama when the observer discovers them, it is a surprise to both The questions begin at this point...Who are these children? What are they doing and why? Ethnicity and gender are questioned."



More Artist Sites



General Online Resources

  • Listen to this podcast from the Arizona State Museum on tiger masks. A transcript of the talk is also provided.





wood, paint, leather, pig tusks, pig bristles, glass

14.76 x 16.14 x 8.46 inches 

Gift of Gretchen and Nelson Grice.  2005.119.4




Special Program:

Master of Beads : Artist Chat with David Chatt

April 6, 2008 3-4 PM Mint Museum of Craft + Design


Internationally acclaimed artist David Chatt transforms the ancient art of bead-working into modern sculptural forms imbued with humor. Among Chatt's many honors and awards are the Pilchuck School of Glass 2007 Scholarship and the 2003 Craft Biennial Merit Award. To learn more, visit the artist's website.




Eyeglasses from Breakfast Set 2004

7.5 x 2 x 4 inches






Page created by Joe Eshleman, Library Assistant at the Mint Museum Library



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