More than 60 works will be on view at the Yale University Art Gallery while the Yale Center for British Art closes for building conservation.
In March 2023, the Yale University Art Gallery presents In a New Light: Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, a selection of more than 60 paintings from the YCBA’s collection. The exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to engage with the YCBA’s artworks while the museum is closed to the public for a building conservation project.
“I am thrilled that a substantial number of our paintings will remain on view for audiences to enjoy while our building is closed. The exhibition also offers a rare opportunity to view the collection in another Louis I. Kahn building, designed by the architect some 20 years before our own,” says Martina Droth, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the YCBA and the exhibition’s co-curator. “This is an exciting time for us to reimagine the collection as we plan a complete reinstallation of our own galleries over the coming months. I look forward to experiencing our paintings in a new context and configuration at the Gallery while envisioning our reopening.”
In a New Light: Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art spans four centuries of British landscape and portraiture traditions, with works by John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, Gwen John, Angelica Kauffman, Thomas Lawrence, George Stubbs, and Joseph Mallord William Turner, among others. Highlights include Francis Bacon’s Study of a Head (1952); several of Constable’s atmospheric Cloud Studies (1821–25); James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne in Blue and Silver (1872–78); Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s Peace Embracing Plenty (1633–34), Canaletto’s Warwick Castle (1748–49), and Turner’s Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed (1818). Several of these paintings were on view at the Gallery in 2015, where they were featured in The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760–1860, the first major collaborative exhibition between the two Yale art museums.
“In addition to the pleasure of seeing a selection of highlights from so remarkable a collection closer to the achievements of related artists elsewhere in Europe, this display is meant to allow a concentrated focus on three of the greatest painters of their century from any Western culture: Richard Parkes Bonington, John Constable, and Joseph Mallord William Turner,” notes Laurence Kanter, Chief Curator and the Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art at the Gallery and exhibition co-curator. “More than 30 landscapes and oil studies by these giants, whose works permanently changed the direction of European painting, have been chosen to close the display,” he explains, “and these represent only a fraction of the YCBA’s incomparable holdings of these artists’ works.”
The YCBA closes in late February 2023 for the next phase in the ongoing conservation of its iconic building. The project entails replacing the museum’s roof and original skylights and upgrading to more energy-efficient LED lighting in the galleries. The museum reopens in 2024 with a reimagined installation of its collection.
In a New Light occupies the special-exhibition galleries on the fourth floor of the Gallery’s Kahn building, which opened in 1953 and was the architect’s first significant commission and the first modernist structure on Yale’s campus. Directly across the street, Kahn’s final building, the YCBA, was completed after his death and opened to the public in 1977. Kahn created simple yet elegant environments for viewing works of art. His museum buildings are notable for their basic geometric forms, muted palettes of natural materials, and galleries filled with diffuse daylight. By viewing the YCBA paintings in a new setting, in another museum designed by Kahn, visitors can witness how Kahn’s architectural philosophy directly affects encounters with artworks.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, the two museums’ education departments will partner to offer tours.