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Fall 2016 Director’s Letter
It is a pleasure to welcome the Yale University Class of 2020 to campus this fall.
The beginning of this academic year marks the final weeks of an exceptional special exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery that celebrates some of the towering achievements of human culture in remote centuries. On view through September 18, Weaving and the Social World: 3,000 Years of Ancient Andean Textiles presents Gallery audiences with a rare opportunity to see a collection of beautiful and well-preserved textiles from pre-literary but sophisticated South America.
Opening this season are two exhibitions that pull our attention closer to modern times. Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, on view from August 19 through January 8, 2017, is the culmination of more than a decade of research and development by Patricia E. Kane, Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts. The objects in this exhibition demonstrate the incredible artistry—both in design and in technical accomplishment using basic tools and traditional methods of construction—of some of the most elegant examples of early American furniture. Art and Industry, which will not travel to other museums, will delight Gallery visitors all season. In October, Yosemite: Exploring the Incomparable Valley—an exhibition that one of our newest colleagues, Mark D. Mitchell, the Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, organized in his first year at the museum—goes on view. The centerpiece of this installation is the Gallery’s Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail (ca. 1873), by Albert Bierstadt. The painting is accompanied by other works of art and materials that early scientists brought back from their expeditions to Yosemite: photographs, drawings, and botanical and geological specimens from the collections of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Peabody Museum is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, and the Beinecke reopens this fall following its yearlong renovation.
In collaboration with Professors Hazel Carby and Stephen Pitti and Yale’s new Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, the Gallery, Yale Repertory Theatre, and several other campus partners present Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, a beautiful and provocative work by renowned artist and MacArthur Fellow Carrie Mae Weems, on September 9 and 10 at the University Theatre. The work, which premiered this year at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, was inspired by President Barack Obama’s singing of “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a victim of last year’s shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Grace Notes features Weems’s stunning visuals in concert with words, song, and dance. The performance is part of a dialogue about racial identity and social justice that will continue over the course of the upcoming year. Throughout the fall, powerful works of art from Weems’s Slave Coast series (1993) are on view in the Charles B. Benenson Galleries alongside works by other contemporary artists responding to the legacies of slavery, including Titus Kaphar, M.F.A. 2006. Weems delivers the Andrew Carnduff Ritchie Lecture at the Gallery on Thursday, December 1.
In addition to our regular rotations of works in the galleries, this season you will begin to see major changes in the permanent-collection displays. The Cornelia Cogswell Rossi Foundation Gallery of Art of the Ancient Americas has been completely reinstalled in time for the fall semester. The Laura and James J. Ross Gallery of African Art is moving from the second floor of the Louis Kahn building to the first floor, adjacent to the lobby. With the African collection in this new location, visitors will be immersed in the permanent collection as soon as they enter the building: they can choose to begin their visit in the galleries of African art, ancient art, or art of the ancient Americas.
This fall John Walsh, B.A. 1961, Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, is once again spending time on campus and sharing his knowledge of and passion for Dutch art. Inspired by the third selection of works on loan to the Gallery from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo collection, John is delivering a series of public lectures about Rembrandt. As in past years, John will also be spending countless hours with educators, curators, and the Wurtele Gallery Teachers in close-looking exercises with the collection. Whether you are with John in front of a painting, attending one of his lectures, or watching a video of his lectures on the Gallery’s YouTube channel, his urging to take your time and immerse yourself—striving to see works of art as deeply and as closely as possible—is a wonderfully apt description of the experience we hope every visitor to the Gallery will enjoy here this year.
Acting Director and the Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Pamela Franks, Acting Director and the Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art