Houdini: Art and Magic is a traveling exhibition exploring the career and legacy of magician, escape artist, and showman extraordinaire Harry Houdini (1874–1926). Organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, the exhibition uses biographical and historical artifacts to relate Houdini’s story. Among more than 150 objects are original costumes and props, stunning period posters, dramatic theater ephemera, rare photographs, and film clips. The exhibition also features some twenty-five works of contemporary art inspired by Houdini’s physical audacity and celebrity; the fascination Houdini holds for artists such as Matthew Barney, Raymond Pettibon, Allen Ruppersberg, and Vik Muniz illustrates his ongoing influence as a mass-media star.
Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age is a companion exhibition that contextualizes Harry Houdini by considering his colleagues and competitors and the cultural landscape that impacted them all. Focusing on the period 1875–1948, the exhibition spotlights celebrated innovators whose stories are mostly forgotten. Developed by the Skirball Cultural Center, this is the first exhibition to investigate the contributions of Jewish magicians to the development of modern magic. Through captivating original artifacts, including automata, magic stageprops, and vivid advertising lithographs, Masters of Illusion traces magic as an important aspect of entertainment history, from the Victorian era through the development of television.
Both exhibitions open to the public on April 28, 2011. To learn more or participate in the opening festivities, become a Skirball Member and enjoy special preview tours. Visit www.skirball.org