Fall 2018 Director’s Letter

I am enjoying my first few months as the Yale University Art Gallery’s new Henry J. Heinz II Director.

I come to Yale having served as director of two museums that are part of the College and University Art Museums Reciprocal Program: Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, in Ithaca, New York, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, in Ohio. I thank all of my new colleagues here at the Gallery who have so warmly welcomed me to the museum and to Yale University, and I would also like to extend my appreciation to the many members who are a core part of this institution: thank you for your friendship, your participation, and your generosity.

It is an honor to succeed Jock Reynolds, whom I have known for many years and deeply respect for the far-reaching leadership role he has played in our field. Jock’s infectious enthusiasm for art and his openness to mentoring and supporting directors who work at other academic museums—myself included—is widely admired. It was a great pleasure, too, to get to know Jock’s wife and artistic collaborator, Suzanne Hellmuth, during my tenure at the Allen; Suzanne is an Oberlin alumna and a member of the Allen’s Visiting Committee.

Jock’s legacy is visible in two exhibitions that will remain on view through January of next year: Manuel Neri: The Human Figure in Plaster and on Paper, a show of works by Jock’s mentor and teacher at the University of California, Davis, and Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings: Expanding a Legacy, which highlights drawings newly donated to the Gallery from the artist’s estate. Jock enjoyed a long friendship with LeWitt during the artist’s lifetime, and the Gallery now houses the largest repository of LeWitt’s signature wall drawings worldwide. LeWitt’s widow, Carol LeWitt, has maintained a close relationship with the Gallery and will become chairman of the Gallery’s Governing Board this fall, succeeding Theodore P. Shen, B.A. 1966, Hon. 2001.

My earliest days at the Gallery coincided with the opening of Leonardo: Discoveries from Verrocchio’s Studio, organized by Laurence Kanter, Chief Curator and the Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art. Focusing on Leonardo da Vinci’s early years as an apprentice in the studio of the sculptor, painter, and goldsmith Andrea del Verrocchio, this spectacular exhibition encourages visitors to look closely and ponder the ways in which the hand of an artist makes itself known over time. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see the enchantingly beautiful Annunciation painting of about 1475–79, on loan from the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and—with the loan of the Miracle of Saint Donatus of Arezzo (ca. 1475–85)—reminds us of the treasures held by our colleagues at the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts. These are reasons enough to make a special trip to see the show before it closes on October 7.

Also on view this fall is Seriously Funny: Caricature through the Centuries, which opens on September 14. Curated by former Florence B. Selden Senior Fellow Rebecca Szantyr, Seriously Funny celebrates the Gallery’s recent acquisition of several important 19th-century French satirical lithographs. Finally, we are pleased to present Sights and Sounds of Ancient Ritual, which opens on November 9 and considers the ways in which rituals in the ancient world appealed to the senses through objects. This exhibition is organized by Carolyn M. Laferrière, Postdoctoral Associate at Archaia: Yale Program for the Study of Ancient and Premodern Cultures and Societies, with Daphne Martin, MC ’19 and the Betsy and Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., B.A. 1966, Intern, and Andrew D. Turner, Postdoctoral Associate, both of the Department of Ancient Art at the Gallery. These two exhibitions showcase the Gallery as a place where emerging scholars can hone their craft among the world’s great art.

With the fall semester upon us, I am thrilled to be participating in the Gallery’s vital educational mission, which serves the Yale campus, the city of New Haven, and individuals and institutions throughout the region and worldwide. Many of the Gallery’s public lectures, conversations, and artist talks are now recorded and available online, so people from around the globe can view programs such as Jock’s last public talk at the Gallery, “New Haven 2040: Looking toward the Next 20 Years of Art and Culture,” a conversation with Jock, artist Titus Kaphar, M.F.A. 2006, and Pamela Franks, Senior Deputy Director and the Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

I would like to offer a few special words of gratitude to Pam, whom I first met during my time at Oberlin, when the Gallery generously began its Collection-Sharing Initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I appreciate her profound contributions to the Gallery during her long tenure, particularly to the Education Department and to the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. Pam will soon be assuming the position of Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, but she will remain a valued colleague.

As I become more familiar with the Gallery and its extraordinary collection, I look forward with excitement to meeting many of you in our galleries and to con­tinuing the great legacy set forth by my celebrated predecessors.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Wiles

The Henry J. Heinz II Director

Stephanie Wiles, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, in the Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson Gallery of Ancient Art

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