Current Exhibitions


Pascale Marthine Tayou, 

Remember Bimbia, 2018

Pascale Marthine Tayou’s site-specific installation for the Redwood, Remember Bimbia (2018) is a pile of painted paving stones that moor the American flag – American history and American futures – in the rubble of its repressed past. The artist’s call to memory, to remember Bimbia, is both a specific invocation of what was once the key slave market in Tayou’s native country of Cameroon— an¬d with it, an acknowledgement of the role that Africans also played in the slave trade— and a larger appeal for us all to accept slavery as “part of our communal history; it is a history that belongs to us all,” as Tayou explains. The slave trade powered the economies of the new world as much as the old. And it was central to the prosperity of the “lively experiment” of Rhode Island: to Newport as a city, and to the Redwood specifically.

This institution’s founder, Abraham Redwood, owed his wealth to the triangle trade and to his sugar plantation in Antigua, where he held nearly three hundred slaves. Even as he championed the Enlightenment ideals of reading and learning, he also represented the contradictory notions of equality that defined colonial America as a slave-owning “democracy” of and for white men. This institution acknowledges the contradictions and complexities of its past, and with this temporary installation, it invites Newport residents and visitors to remember the slave market of Bimbia and the  thousands of West Africans who arrived in Newport enchained. At the same time, Remember Bimbia celebrates the contributions of people of all “colors,” evoking the revolutionary spirit of 1968 – fifty years ago this summer – through its “riotous” color and the paving stones flung in the name of liberty.


Commissioned by the Redwood Contemporary Arts Initiative, through the generosity of Cornelius C. Bond and Anne E. Blackwell.

Edward Ruscha

Ex Libris, 2017


Commissioned to commemorate the gift of author and New Yorker staff writer Calvin Tomkins’ art book collection to the Redwood, this large-scale acrylic exemplifies Ruscha’s enduring exploration of the visual and connotative potential of words and phrases 

With words functioning as both bearers of meaning and as forms —“becoming a picture… then coming back and becoming word[s] again,” as per the artist— we are left as viewers with a range of interpretive possibilities that confound traditional forms and conventional narratives.


For example, the image authorizes us to think of the play on words of Ex Libris, not only as ‘from the books of’ but also as ‘out of’(Ex) of the library— a conceptual evasion of the decorative frame that tightly encloses the words. Likewise, the color field background transgresses the tradition-laden boundaries of line engraving, the historic medium used for an ex libris.

The Best Editions of Several Volumes: John J. Slocum, His Library, and the Redwood


This exhibition will highlight the generous gift of the Slocum family of books from John J. Slocum's personal library. An erudite collector, Mr. Slocum, amassed a diverse library of rare and antiquarian books ranging from 16th century volumes to important 20th century first editions. His particular interests were Latin Satire, Neo-Latin and Latin love poetry, and books relating to his work abroad. As a patron of the arts, he also held personally inscribed editions of modern literature. Please join us as we share highlights from this expansive collection.

This exhibition is on view April 13 - October 14, 2018 in the Peirce Prince Gallery.

Modernity vs. Tradition: Art at the Parisian Salon 1750-1900

The signal aesthetic space of modern spectacle culture, the Parisian Salon remains the indispensable precursory context that gave rise to virtually everything defining today’s art world: from superstar artists and the art market to museum exhibitions and biennales; from consumer culture to institutionalized art history. Assembled from a private collection of prints, pamphlets, press images and published criticism, and supplemented by rare volumes from the Redwood Library’s holdings, the exhibition charts the evolution of the Salon and its 200-year history, from the early presentations rooted in the civic pageantry of royal patronage, through the Enlightenment Salons of the Royal Academy and the highly contested nineteenth-century exhibitions, all the way to the culminating presentations of the Universal Exposition of 1900. 

Traditional art histories of the Salon have tended to focus on the individual narratives of high art personalities and movements operating in accord or in contrast to the policies of alternating governments and arts administrations. The exhibition instead positions the Salon within contemporary print culture, illuminating its treatment in newspapers and press imagery on one hand, and in the more enduring arena of official livrets, secondary catalogues, and art criticism published in books, pamphlets and periodicals on the other.

Featuring over 75 works, the exhibition includes a range of salon livrets spanning two hundred years, a number of rare pamphlets treating the early Salons, period newspapers, examples of the two known explicatory pamphlets produced by Jacques-Louis David, a varied display of published critical treatments of the Salon, a concentrated selection of press images depicting the Salon and its component events from jury selection to opening and presentation, a choice grouping of satiric Daumier lithographs from the Charivari, and a concentration of photographs, ephemera and rare published critical treatments of the art exhibitions of the Universal Exposition of 1900.

The exhibition is divided into ten discrete groupings:

-The Imprint of Authority: Royal Patronage, the Académie and the Livret

-Jacques-Louis David and the ‘Counter-Exhibition’

-Press and Public: The Salon 1800-1850

-Viewing Art in the City of Spectacle

-The Golden Age of the Modern Salon

-Anxiety at the Salon: Preparation and Openings

-Honoré Daumier and the Satirical Salon

-Archetypes of the Salon

-The Salon at the Universal Exposition of 1900

-The Universal Exposition of 1900 in Print

Named after the Salon carré at the Louvre, where it was held between 1725 and 1848, the Salon’s rise as the world’s preeminent regular exhibition of contemporary art was intertwined with the rise of a modern viewing public and of the larger political public sphere. In that sense, as a politically charged site of aesthetic contemplation defined by both text and image it is coincident with the Redwood Library itself.

Organized by the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, the exhibition will be on view in the Van Alen Gallery from December 1, 2017 to September 16, 2018.

The gallery presentation is made possible by a generous donation from Cornelius C. Bond andAnn E. Blackwell, and an in-kind donation by Sandra Liotus Lighting LLC