Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie

Presenting sponsor for this exhibition is the H. Lee and Carol Gendler Charitable Fund.
Major support provided by Douglas County.
Additional support provided by Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. 

Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and is made possible thanks to a generous lead gift from Joan and Irwin Jacobs.

EXTENDED through June 9!

Jennifer Steinkamp’s multi-channel, synchronized video work, Madame Curie, 2011, presents a sixty-foot wide projection of swirling, intertwined flowers that glide across the gallery wall in a seemingly endless procession. Inspired by Steinkamp’s research into atomic energy and explosions and the effects of these forces on nature, this recent work takes its name from the scientist Marie Curie (1867–1934), who is best known for receiving two Nobel Prizes for creating the theory of radioactivity and discovering the elements radium and polonium. Curie was also an avid gardener. Drawing from a list of over 40 flowering plants that appear in Curie’s biography, written by her daughter Eve, Steinkamp created realistic depictions of apple blossoms, daisies, fuschia, periwinkle, rambler rose, Virginia creeper, and wisteria, among others. Employing a complex computer algorithm, Madame Curie becomes an enveloping, panoramic world of interwoven branches and blossoms that strike a taut balance between the natural world and computer-generated imagery. Originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Madame Curie is presented at Joslyn in a three-channel format for the first time since its original installation.

Steinkamp, born in Denver in 1958 and now based in Los Angeles, is one of the most respected digital video artists working today. Her animations utilize powerful digital projectors to engage architectural spaces in ways that either emphasize or dissolve the character of the sites where they are presented. Inspired by the west coast Light and Space artists of the late 1960s and 1970s, who sought to capture subtle atmospheric effects through minimalist gallery installations, Steinkamp asks her audiences to contemplate their surroundings as not simply a matter of space, but also as factors of time, perception, and memory. Madame Curie will undoubtedly delight with its vibrant spring colors that challenge the gray days of the Midwestern winter, as well as by testing the ways we perceive history, science, and our relationship to nature.

What's Pictured: Jennifer Steinkamp (American, born 1958), Madame Curie, 2011, multi-channel, synchronized projection, Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Museum purchase with funds provided by Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. 

Click the Pinterest link to explore Joslyn's board of 18 flowering plants as they appear in nature that were at one time represented in Marie Curie's garden and listed (along with 22 others) in her biography. Jennifer Steikamp's realistic depictions of these flowers and plants comprise her video work, Madame Curie. 

Exhibition Related Events

Thursday, February 14 — Impress Your Sweetheart with an Evening of Sweet Art!
The extraordinary, sensuous work of Jennifer Steinkamp is at the heart of this Valentine's Eve event.
Click for details and registration instructions.

Sunday, March 10; 1–4 pm
Free Family Fun Day! Join us and bring a friend.
Sponsored in part by the Joslyn Art Museum Association

On Sunday, April 14, Karin Campbell, Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art, presents three 20-minute talks (1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm) about Madame Curie for SciFest participants and the public. These talks are free to Joslyn members and those with a SciFest ticket (all others regular Museum admission).
SciFest tickets are free and available at

Tuesday, April 16 @ 7:30 pm (NOTE NEW START TIME!)
Science Café — Marie Curie: She Liked Flowers, Too 
Free and open to the public.
Join Karin Campbell, Joslyn’s Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art, for a dialogue exploring the intersection of science and art at a spring Science Café presented by the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Held in casual settings, like pubs and coffeehouses, the Science Cafés provide a comfortable atmosphere for people without science backgrounds to engage in conversations organized around topics related to the sciences. Joslyn’s installation of artist Jennifer Steinkamp’s monumental, digital video projection, Madame Curie, is sure to get people talking.

This event will be held at Slowdown in Omaha’s North downtown. Executive Director and CEO Jack Becker was a featured Science Café speaker in November 2011. For more about UNMC’s Science Cafés, including other past topics and speakers,click here.

Sunday, April 28 @ 1 pm
The Science Behind the Scenes
A Partnership with Omaha’s Botanical Center
Space is limited and advanced reservations are required: $25 Joslyn and Lauritzen Gardens members; $35 general public. Contact Joslyn’s Director of Adult Programs at or (402) 661-3862. Online registration coming soon.
Inspired by Jennifer Steinkamp’s technical and systematic manipulation of nature, this Joslyn/Lauritzen Gardens program offers a unique connection between our two institutions. Beginning at 1 pm at Joslyn Art Museum, participants will enjoy an introduction to the exhibition Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie. Following the gallery talk, participants will travel via shuttle bus to Lauritzen Gardens where they will receive a special behind-the-scenes tour of production greenhouses where expert horticulturalists research, study, propagate and grow many of the plants that end up on public display in the Gardens, including the dramatic presentation of tulips promising peak performance at the end of April. Garden educators will discuss how such plantings are conceived, designed, and executed before participants head back to the Museum. 

Thursday, May 23 @ 6:30 pm — Gallery talk by Karin Campbell, Joslyn’s Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art (Free with regular Museum admission; $5 on Thursdays from 4-8 pm). Cash bar @ 5 pm.