The IU Eskenazi Museum of Art in Texas!

Riberia 57.7
Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish 1591-1652). Study for Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, ca. 1626. Red chalk on paper. William Lowe Bryan Memorial, Eskenazi Museum of Art 57.7

Two major works from the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection are now on view in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.

After premiering at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, Between Heaven and Hell: The Drawings of Jusepe de Ribera recently opened at the Meadows Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas. Curated by Gabriele Finaldi, former Associate Director of Conservation and Research at the Museo del Prado, and current Director of the National Gallery in London, the exhibition celebrates the first catalogue raisonné of Ribera’s drawings. The aim of the catalogue is to give a complete vision of Ribera as a draughtsman and to document all of the known drawings by his hand (around 160 in total). Among the drawings in the catalogue and exhibition is Saint Sebastian seated and attached to a Tree from the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The drawing is highlighted in the catalogue as “One of Jusepe de Ribera’s most beautiful drawings, this work demonstrates the artist’s expert handling of the chalk medium for shading and contour, his understanding of human anatomy, and his dramatic use of contortion in the figure’s sinuous pose.” We are very happy to contribute to this new look at a major Spanish artist. Other loaning institutions beyond the Eskenazi, include the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), British Museum (London), Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), and the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica (Rome). The exhibition at the Meadows is on view now through June 11, 2017.

“Swing Landscape” Installation from Amon Carter Museum on Vimeo.

Stuart Davis’s masterpiece Swing Landscape, a perennial favorite of visitors to the Eskenazi Museum of Art, is currently on loan to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in nearby Fort Worth, Texas. Produced under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration, the 1938 mural portrays the Gloucester, Massachusetts, waterfront through the lens of Davis’s exuberant brand of abstraction.  As the New York Times’s art critic Holland Cotter recently wrote,  “we see bits of Gloucester—ships, buoys, lobster traps—but basically we’re in a whole new universe of jazzy patterns and blazing colors, a landscape defined not by signs but by sensations: sound, rhythm, friction.” Swing Landscape recently anchored Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, a major retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Swing Landscape will remain on view at the Amon Carter Museum throughout the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s renovation, which is set to be completed by fall of 2019.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


2017 MFA Thesis Exhibitions Artist Spotlight: David Ondrik

David Ondrik, MFA Thesis Sketch, 2017

Every spring the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University partners with the IU School of Art and Design to present thesis exhibitions of graduating Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) candidates in the visual arts. Exhibitions take place in three groups, March 29- May 7, 2017. Today we spotlight one of our 2017 exhibitiors, photographer David Ondrik, whose work will be on display in Group One, from March 29 to April 9, 2017.

Hi David, tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, and why you came to Indiana University?

I was born in Bloomington, although I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I picked up photography in high school and continued my education at the University of New Mexico, where I studied with Thomas Barrow, Patrick Nagatani, and Betty Hahn. After a few years in private industry doing graphic design, I got a teaching certificate and became a high school art teacher. Throughout my ten years of teaching I continued to create and exhibit my own photographic art, which is in a handful of museum and public art collections in New Mexico. I came to IU to work with James Nakagawa and dedicate time to my art practice, with the benefit of being able to teach at the college level when I’m through.

What will you be featuring at your upcoming exhibition at the art museum?

Physically, I’ll be exhibiting a large-scale (10’ x 30’) installation of nearly 250 unique gelatin silver prints made in a chemical darkroom.

David Ondrik, Inheritance (in-progress), 2017. Unfixed gelatin silver prints.

What themes are you exploring through your upcoming exhibition? 

My recent work is an exploration of the Sublime through the inheritance of tools both real and metaphorical. The Sublime is a visual-spiritual experience with roots in 19th-century Romanticism that refers to “experiences of awe, terror, boundlessness, and divinity.” The impetus for this work came in the aftermath of my father’s death and the struggle to make sense of what was passed along to me. On a physical level, I inherited his woodworking tools, including old-fashioned hand planes and saws. They are simultaneously a treasured gift and an uncomfortable burden. Not being particularly skilled in woodworking, I endeavored to find a way to use the tools for photographic image making.

They are perfect for photograms, a technique that goes back to the beginning of photography where physical objects are arranged on a light-sensitive material (usually paper) and the composition is exposed to light. The shadows cast by the objects create the light shapes while the dark shapes are formed by direct exposure to the light source.

In my photograms, the image of the originating object is completely lost. So not only is the original use of the hand plane subverted, so too is its form. The black shapes reference an event horizon, the outer boundary of a Black Hole beyond which light cannot escape. This is a metaphor for death — the deceased have entered a realm the living cannot understand, but their presence is still felt. The voids float within neutral earth tones, a textural murk that references our body’s cells, bones, and skin. Each image is assembled from smaller pieces into a larger whole, much like the accumulation of individual events into the memories and experiences that make up a life. The images are not properly “fixed,” so they remain sensitive to light. They will change over time, mirroring the way memories and experience shift and evolve. In front of these images, there is room for quiet meditation and reflection, an opportunity to safely confront the traumas of existence.

David Ondrik, Inheritance (detail), 2017. Unfixed gelatin silver prints.

Who is your favorite artist, and what about their work inspires you?

It’s hard to say as I think it changes. But based on my bookcase, my favorites are Anselm Kiefer and Joel-Peter Witkin. Both of them address disturbing issues with seductive beauty. They also both challenge the conventions of photography; Kiefer’s photographic work ignores technical standbys like tonal range, clean negatives, and proper exposure, while Witkin scratches negatives and bleaches prints as part of his aesthetic.

What are your plans after IU?

I want to return to teaching, either at the college or secondary level.

You can learn more about David and his work at his website, davidondrik.com. David’s work will be on view along with additional work by fellow MFA candidates, photographer Zandra Raines, and textile artist Molly Evans Fox, at the Eskenazi Museum of Art from March 29-April 9, 2017. There will be a gallery talk with the artists from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 31, and a reception on Friday, March 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. Find out more about the MFA Thesis Exhibitions here


The Fountain at 100

Marcel Duchamp (French, active in the United States 1887-1968). Fountain, 1964 edition (original 1917). Painted ceramic. Partial gift of Mrs. William H. Conroy. Eskenazi Museum of Art 71.37.7

One of the jewels of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University’s collection is a complete set of the 1964 edition of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades. Duchamp was a French artist who was associated with the Dada movement, which sought to redefine traditional artistic practices. During World War I, Duchamp moved to New York City, where he became a central figure in that city’s artistic community. Duchamp’s major contribution to Dada—and to modern art more generally—were the Readymades, mass-produced objects that he presented as works of art. Duchamp undermined the original functionality of the objects through slight alterations or by installing them in an unusual way. By emphasizing an intellectual approach to art over craftmanship or stylistic expressivity, Duchamp posed a serious challenge to long-accepted definitions of art. His radical thinking of artistic practice inspired the development of conceptual art and the use of nontraditional materials within the realm of fine art.

The year 2017 marks the centennial of Fountain, the most famous—and notorious—Readymade. One hundred years ago, in April 1917, the Society of Independent Artists in New York refused to display Fountain—a urinal turned on its back and signed “R. Mutt”—in its annual exhibition. Because Fountain and many other original Readymades were lost not long after their creation, Duchamp and the Milan gallerist Arturo Schwartz decided to produce a replica edition of these works in 1964. The reproduction of the Readymades acknowledged their significance to the development of modern art. The Eskenazi Museum of Art is one of only three museums worldwide that holds all thirteen Readymades reproduced in the 1964 edition. The installation Fountain at 100 celebrates the Readymades, with special emphasis on Fountain, on view in the museum’s first floor Gallery of Art of the Western World from January 24 through May 7, 2017. Works by artists inspired by Duchamp—Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, and Lucas Samaras—will also be on view. We hope you take this opportunity to visit and see Duchamp’s Readymades in person for yourself.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art will also be hosting a free Noon Talk on February 15, 2017 from 12:15-1:00 p.m. entitled “Out of the Box: The Legacy of the Readymade,” presented in conjunction with Fountain at 100. Andrew Wang, graduate assistant for European and American art, will discuss the influence of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades on Jospeh Cornell, Louise Nevelson, and Lucas Samaras. This Noon Talk will take place in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World, first floor, and is free and open to the public. No prior reservation is necessary to attend.

Please visit the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Website for gallery hours and more information on visiting the museum. Admission at the Eskenazi Museum of Art is always FREE. 



Eskenazi Museum of Art Represented at Important Conference in Jerusalem

Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Photo: Jenny McComas

By Jenny McComas, Curator of European and American Art, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University

Engaging with the wider academic and professional communities is an important part of a curator’s job. Participating in conferences is one way to stay abreast of current trends in the field, meet new colleagues, and present one’s own research. Since I established the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Nazi-Era Provenance Research Project in 2004, I have taken advantage of opportunities to participate in the broader field of provenance (the ownership history of works of art) whenever possible. In November, I participated in an international conference on Provenance and Collecting organized by the London-based International Research Forum on Collecting and Display in conjunction with the Israel Museum and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The conference was held at the Israel Museum, the largest and most comprehensive art and archaeology museum in Israel. The museum has extensive wings devoted to antiquities, fine art, and Jewish art and life, but is perhaps best known for housing the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls, written in Hebrew and Aramaic on parchment and papyrus, were found in caves in Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. Dating from the third century BCE to the first century CE, they are the earliest written biblical texts to have survived. The scrolls are displayed on a rotating basis in the Shrine of the Book on the Israel Museum’s campus. This unusual building, designed in 1965 by the American architects Armand P. Bartos and Friedrich Kiesler, is meant to evoke the lids of the clay jars in which the scrolls were discovered. It was thrilling to present my conference paper in the Shrine of the Book’s auditorium, just steps from the famous scrolls.

Jenny McComas discusses two objects from the Eskenazi Museum of Art, Israel Museum, November 2016. Photo: Yair Hovav

With the aim of exploring the myriad ways that provenance and provenance research impact scholarship, ethics, and the law, the Provenance and Collecting Conference was attended by a range of art historians, archaeologists, museum professionals, archivists, and lawyers from Israel, North America, and Europe. In my presentation, I described how I recovered the long-lost provenance histories of two objects in the Eskenazi Museum’s collection: Merzbild 13A (1919) by German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters and Head of a Girl, Turning (1913-14) by German Expressionist sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck. My research had revealed that both objects played significant roles in the introduction of modern German art to American audiences in the 1920s and 1930s, a discovery that, in my opinion, increases their art historical value and significance. In my presentation, I argued that provenance research conducted on museum collections has critical implications for the art historical interpretation of objects. Learning more of the specifics of an object’s past helps us to understand more about historical patterns in collecting, the public display of art, and how artistic canons are formed. In addition to sharing my research with other scholars in the field, the conference provided a wonderful opportunity to introduce the Eskenazi Museum of Art and its collections to an international audience.

Conference attendees learning about a display of Hanukkah lamps from Jewish communities worldwide in the Israel Museum’s galleries. Photo: Yair Hovav

The Israel Museum’s own collections played an important role throughout the conference, providing a break from the more traditional lectures and offering a constant reminder of the object-oriented nature of provenance research. The conference began with a guided tour of the museum’s three main wings, and included extended discussions of particular objects with remarkable—or troubled—provenances. In the Jewish Art and Life wing, for example, we learned about “ownerless” objects sent to the Israel Museum’s predecessor, the Bezalel National Museum, by the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) after World War II. Most often, these were ceremonial objects from synagogues destroyed or looted during the Holocaust. Today, the museum continues to research these objects’ provenances in the hopes of finding their rightful owners. The conference organizers also arranged a variety of workshops that focused on objects in the Israel Museum’s collections. Engaging with original works of art in an intensive session and hearing the insights of the curators was a unique opportunity for conference attendees.

Edmund de Waal giving the conference keynote lecture, Israel Museum. Photo: Yair Hovav

The conference concluded with a moving keynote lecture by Edmund de Waal, acclaimed British ceramic artist and author of the bestselling 2011 memoir The Hare with the Amber Eyes. In his book—and in the lecture—de Waal recounted his research into the history of his Jewish ancestors, the Ephrussis of Paris and Vienna, and their collection of Japanese netsuke (miniature carvings), which he inherited as a young man. This was the only part of the family’s once vast art collection to escape Nazi looting during World War II. A powerful speaker and storyteller, de Waal had the audience laughing and crying in turn.

Installation of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain at the Israel Museum. Photo: Jenny McComas

Engaging in fruitful dialogue with fellow scholars, curators, and provenance researchers, viewing the museum’s rich collections, and exploring Jerusalem itself—a city that certainly figures prominently in the history of art and culture—were reasons enough to make this a successful conference experience. Yet there was one more thing that made my visit to the Israel Museum special. Like the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the Israel Museum houses one of only three complete sets of the 1964 authorized replica edition of the Readymades by Marcel Duchamp. The original Readymades, among them the iconic Fountain (a porcelain urinal that Duchamp submitted to a New York art exhibition in 1917), were produced by Duchamp between 1913 and 1921 and epitomize the anti-establishment artistic movement known as Dada. Although most of the original Readymades were lost, the techniques and concepts pioneered by Duchamp—including the use of found objects, assemblage, and a general rethinking of Western artistic traditions—have proven extremely influential, providing a model for minimalism, conceptualism, and performance art. In 1964, the replica edition consisting of thirteen of Duchamp’s most important Readymades was designed and produced under the supervision of Duchamp and the Milan gallerist Arturo Schwarz; this project made Duchamp’s early twentieth-century innovations visible to a much wider audience. The Israel Museum’s set of Readymades, along with a major collection of Dada and Surrealist art, was donated in 1998 by Schwarz himself. I was curious to see how these objects would be installed and was particularly interested in the placement of Fountain high up on a wall separating two gallery spaces. As David Rockefeller Senior Curator Adina Kamien-Kazhdan explained to me, her presentation of the object references a photograph showing the original 1917 Fountain hanging above a doorway in Duchamp’s studio. I appreciated Adina’s creative installation choices, which I will certainly keep in mind as we prepare to reinstall our galleries as part of the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s upcoming renovation project.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


Your Favorite Things: Emma Kessler and a Māori Weaving Peg

Unknown Maori artist, New Zealand. Weaving Peg. Wood and haliotis shell. Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2010.21

Your Favorite Things is a regular feature on our blog where students, staff, and patrons of the museum talk about their favorite objects in the museum’s collection. Today Emma Kessler, curatorial assistant for the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas discusses her favorite object, a Māori Weaving Pin.

Since I was a kid I’ve always loved museums. I love learning about other cultures through the objects they’ve created.

I first visited the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University on a campus visit while trying to decide where I wanted to attend graduate school. It is safe to say I was impressed with the collection and I was blown away by the objects in the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery of the Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

To be upfront, my graduate focus is on the art of Polynesia, and I happily admit that my opinions are completely biased, but as far as I am concerned the Polynesian collection is the best in the museum.

My favorite object is a beautiful and unfinished Māori Weaving Peg from Aotearoa (New Zealand). I go back to this object over and over again. I never walk past it without stopping at least for a moment, and if I have a visitor with me I always point it out. Among the Māori, weaving was historically a sacred act carried out by women, and there was great care, attention, and power put into the necessary tools.

Emma Kessler

I love the history and unique qualities of this object. While it is certainly not the only example of a carved weaving peg, it is one of the most elaborate. The crispness of the carving is the result of metal tools that had only been introduced relatively recently when the weaving peg was created in the 18th century. Its use of interlocking figures, a characteristic of Māori carving, means there is always something new to see and more to look at. I never get bored when spending time with this object.

However, my favorite thing about this weaving peg is the fact that it is unfinished. In a purely visual way, this allows one to see and get a better understanding of how the peg was made. The figures at the bottom have been roughly outlined but are nowhere near the completed intricacy of the figures above them. Through a cultural lens this unfinished quality becomes even more interesting. Every part of the carving process included chants and prayers, imbuing the object with mana, or sacred power, and creating an intense connection between the object and the carver. When the peg’s carver was unable to finish it (perhaps because of illness or death) another carver would not be able to complete it, as the continuity of the ritual had been broken.

Because of objects and histories like this one, the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery has become my favorite space on the IU campus. For me, it is a place to think, reflect, learn, and enjoy.

If you would like to tell us about your favorite object in the museum’s collection contact us at iuam@indiana.edu

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website



Lou Block: An Unexpected Slice of Life

Image: Lou Block (American, 1895-1969). Conversation No. 1, ca. 1960. Gelatin silver print. Henry Holmes Smith Archive, Eskenazi Museum of Art 200.X.18.1

Today we bring you a look into the work of American photographer Lou Block by Nan Brewer, the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper. Block’s work, along with that of other influential photography professors, including Minor White, Allen Downs, Aaron Siskind, and Indiana University’s first photography professor, Henry Holmes Smith, will be on view in a new installation, Modern Pioneers: Professors of Photography, from November 8, 2016, through May 7, 2017, in the museum’s first floor gallery of the Art of the Western World. 

Lou Block is primarily known as a muralist, illustrator, and arts administrator, and served as a supervisor for the WPA Federal Art Project in New York City. During his tenure with the FAP he raised issues of racism and segregation within the government-sponsored organization, particularly the rejection of designs by black artists for the Harlem Hospital. Block was also involved politically with the Artists Congress and Artists’ Union, which organized an artists’ strike in 1934. Having worked with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera on his controversial Rockefeller Center murals, Block understood the power of art to move people and recognized the importance of truthfulness.

Inspired by his friend Ben Shahn, Block took up the camera as well as the brush and pen. He approached photography with the same honesty and creative passion as he did his other work. During his years in New York City he photographed numerous mural projects (many now lost), the Artists’ Union strike, and studies for a mural proposed at Riker’s Island. In 1951 Block moved to Kentucky, where he taught painting and creative photography at the University of Louisville. His later photographs include shots taken in Louisville, Mexico, New York City, and New Jersey.

Block’s photographs continued in the documentary tradition of the Farm Security Administration, while embracing the grittier, urban style of the New York Photo League. This image with its closely cropped focus on two foreground figures offers an intimate look into their private world. Never overly sentimentalizing or condescending to his subjects, Block used a 35mm camera to record as unobtrusively as possible a fleeting moment in time. While the interaction between the women is the central focus of the picture, the blurred tapestry of street life seen in the background provides the social context. Like the street photography of Robert Frank—whose book The Americans was published in the US in 1959—Block’s image relies on gesture and unexpected juxtapositions to reveal the whole story.

Nanette Esseck Brewer

The Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


How An Exhibition Comes Together

Emma Kessler, curatorial assistant for the Art of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas at the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University

Ever wonder what goes into planning and installing an exhibition at a museum? Today’s blog post answers that question. Emma Kessler, curatorial assistant for the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas, takes us through the process of envisioning and installing the museum’s new Focalpoint exhibition Hats as Materials of Culture on view now through May 7, 2017 in the museum’s third floor gallery of Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas.

The Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery houses the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection of art from Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas. While the vast majority of the objects in this gallery remain on continuous display, the Focalpoint section features a series of rotating exhibitions. Here we create two or three exhibitions a year on a range of topics. Recent displays include the art of ancient Peru, a look at fakes and forgeries, costumes and ornaments from New Guinea, and an investigation into tradition and authenticity in Native American art.

When deciding on a new Focalpoint exhibition, we first consider whether the topic can be linked to another exhibition, an event occurring on campus, or a new collection that has come to the museum. Our current Focalpoint, Hats: Materials of Culture, corresponds with the course Art, Craft, and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is being offered by the Department of Art History this spring. Even after the topic was selected, there was still a lot to narrow down. For example, would the exhibition look at one type of material or one kind of technology? One of the ideas I considered was a focus on beadwork. I would have looked at a wide range of objects from across Africa and made by a variety of peoples, but out of a single material—beads.

In preparation for Focalpoint, I put together several proposals, one for each of my exhibition ideas. They included 20 to 30 objects that could be used in the exhibition along with a short paragraph of the ideas and topics that could be addressed. Interestingly, this step in the process often reveals whether or not an exhibition will work. As it turns out, the beadwork idea did not work. While the objects were extremely interesting, they did not work together as well as I had hoped. As it turned out, a different idea worked much better—to create an exhibition centered on a single object type, but featuring a wide range of materials and a number of different techniques. In this case, the object type was hats.

Continue reading “How An Exhibition Comes Together”


New in the Galleries: Modern Sculptors in Indiana


In celebration of the Indiana State Bicentennial, the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is featuring a special installation titled Modern Sculptors in Indianawith works by renowned sculptors who were born, worked, or studied in the state. The works on display represent the diversity and pluralism of modern sculpture and range from representative figures to geometric forms. An official Bicentennial Legacy Project, this installation commemorates the rich artistic heritage of Indiana and showcases some of the state’s most influential sculptures. It is on view through March 12, 2017 in the museum’s first-floor gallery of the Art of the Western World. Originally from Concarneau, France, Robert Laurent is perhaps one of the best known artists to contribute work for the Bloomington campus. His figurative sculpture The Birth of Venus (also known as the Showalter Fountain) is located in the Fine Arts Plaza next to the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Laurent worked primarily in Bloomington for the last two decades of his career and taught at Indiana University from 1942 to 1960. Some of his other works can be seen throughout campus, namely at the IU Auditorium and on the façade of Ballantine Hall. This installation features Torso, Laurent’s walnut sculpture of a female form from 1924. Representative of his lifelong interest in smooth and elegant surfaces, Torso provides visitors an intimate view of one of Laurent’s earlier small-scale works, which preceded the public and monumental sculptures of his late career.

Bloomington locals may also be familiar with Alexander Calder’s large, abstract sculpturePeau Rouge Indiana, outside Indiana University’s Musical Arts Center. Born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, Calder gained international attention for his suspended mobile sculptures. In contrast, Peau Rouge Indiana is a “stabile,” or monumental and stationary steel sculpture.Despite its inability to move, the overlapping and intersecting abstract planes, as well as its striking red color, dynamically activate the space it occupies. A maquette, or preliminary model,of Peau Rouge Indiana is on view in the Indiana Sculptors installation, providing an opportunity to explore Calder’s early working process. The other artists in the installation have also expanded the parameters of modern sculpture, both in Indiana and on an international scale. David Smith, the abstract expressionist who influenced many of the other artists in this installation, worked in South Bend in the early 1920s and was a visiting artist at Indiana University from 1955 to 1956; David Hayes received degrees from both University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, where he worked with Smith; George Rickey,a South Bend native, created intricate kinetic sculptures; and Isamu Noguchi, known for his surrealist-inspired, biomorphic sculptures, moved to Indiana from Japan at the age of thirteen.

We hope you take this opportunity to visit us at the Eskenazi Museum of Art and see the work of some of Indiana’s most significant twentieth-century sculptors. If you have any questions, please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

Post by Andrew Wang, IU Eskenazi Museum of Art Graduate Assistant for European and American Art.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website
New in the Galleries
Restoring Peau Rouge Indiana


Your Favorite Things: Rebecca Hinton and Bernardo Strozzi’s St. Dorothy

strozziImage (click to enlarge): Bernardo Strozzi (Italian, 1581-1644). St. Dorothy, 1615-20. Oil on canvas. Eskenazi Museum of Art 80.12

Welcome to Your Favorite Things, our ongoing series where students, community members, and staff of the museum discuss their favorite works from the museum’s collection. Today, Rebecca Hinton, a security guard here at the museum, discusses, St. Dorothy, a large oil painting by Bernardo Strozzi that can be found in the Gealt Gallery in Gallery of the Art of the Western World on the first floor of the museum. 

Full disclaimer: I do not have a favorite artwork in our museum, any more than I have a favorite film, food, or color. How do people do that? After all, to play favorites is to bring a built-in lens to anything that you are trying to appreciate: it limits the potential for joy, and limits what you actually see. However, I’ll try to play along, just this once. As an art museum security guard, I actually have extensive time to live with and savor our collection, in a way that even other members of our staff are not really able to do. And one of the pieces that I find exquisite, that is moving, that has presence and emotional impact, is Bernardo Strozzi’s St. Dorothy.

Rebecca1Image: Rebecca Hinton with St. Dorothy

A monumental figure is gracefully seated in the darkness, patiently awaiting your approach. Your eye falls to her sandaled foot, which gingerly nudges itself out of the blackness. Above this foot is a swirl of darkness and beautiful fabrics: blue, yellow, pink, and filmy white seem to fly about her figure like startled birds, only to vanish into the void beyond. Her right arm appears to be resting on an unseen chair – the most beautiful hand curves downward, long fingers gently holding a tendril of that restless fabric, moving about her figure. In her other arm she cradles a child-angel, who holds a rose against his breast. The faces of both figures are pale and flushed. Unnaturally flushed? Is St. Dorothy unwell, or is she already not quite of this world? Either way the blush in the cheeks of both figures is evocative of the petals of the rose in the child’s hands. The child’s gaze is focused somewhere beyond, but St. Dorothy’s gaze is steady, her face turned fully toward the viewer. She has the aspect of a good listener, and of someone who knows the world and its sorrows. Her expression and the child’s are both full of pathos, but St. Dorothy’s is particularly complex. Her face is made exquisite by the traces of sadness and pain in her expression, but she is also steady, composed, and resolute. She is both monumentally there (she fills the entire canvas), but fleeting. She has decided to briefly, gingerly, emerge out of that darkness, for the sake of the viewer. She is here. She is listening.

Like the best Madonnas, St. Dorothy gazes down at the viewer with a knowing look, full of compassion. I have always found it interesting how often male saints are depicted as looking up, aspiring toward heaven, whereas Mary and the female saints are more likely to be looking down at the spectator. It seems to me that these ladies are already with God, and their energies are focused on others. They are coming from another place, and they are here to help. Second disclaimer: I was a Religious Studies major back in college. In Catholicism, Mary acts as an intercessor, a bridge between mortals and heaven. Female saints like Dorothy often seem to be portrayed in the same way. According to the accounts of her life, Dorothy was persecuted, tortured, and killed for her faith. Before she was beheaded, she told the mob gathered about her that she looked forward to going to a place that knew no winter. A man in the crowd named Theophilus attempted to ridicule her by requesting a basket of roses and apples from heaven. Dorothy earnestly promised to fulfill that request. That winter an angel in the guise of a small boy brought the roses and the apples. Theophilus converted to Christianity, and in turn was also martyred.

The story is full of pain, but also the beauty of hope. The promise of fruit and flowers, the promise in the dead of winter that spring, full of life and fecundity, will return, is ancient, deep, and good (and found across religions). It is a simple miracle, but that makes it all the more poignant and powerful. The painting is symbolically rich. The mysterious darkness from which St. Dorothy emerges – is it God? The Unknown? Death?—I’ve always loved the play of light and dark: the dappled light under a tree, or in an Impressionist painting, the curious play of positive and negative space in a silhouette, or in the exquisitely carved crescent shapes of an Alamblak Peoples’ War and Hunting Spirit Figure, or in the intricate designs of a lime spatula handle (both of which can be found in our third floor gallery). Light and dark, the known and the unknown, at play or fighting for dominance, is powerful, provocative, stimulating. What isn’t being revealed? Are we ever really content to accept the view presented to us? Like St. Dorothy, Strozzi was no stranger to pain and suffering. He left the monastery to care for his ailing mother, and he had to take painting commissions in order to make ends meet. I am both intrigued and impressed by Strozzi: painter, monk, and caregiver, all in one life. He seemed to have a good sense of priorities, and a foot in both the sacred and secular realms. Anyone who could paint a face like St. Dorothy’s, or that beautiful hand, curling in toward the darkness…I hope you come and visit her, and our other treasures someday soon, and I hope you find them as stimulating and as nourishing as I do.

If you would like to talk about your favorite work at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, write to us at iuam@indiana.edu

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website



Spotlights: Burton Yost Berry: A Sketch

Burton Yost Berry
Burton Yost Berry

This summer the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is exhibiting Spotlights: Five Views into the Museum’s Collection. The museum’s outstanding collection of ancient jewelry is celebrated by Juliet Istrabadi, acting Curator of the Ancient Art, for her section of the exhibition.

The following is an excerpt from A Golden Legacy: Ancient Jewelry from the Burton Y. Berry Collection, a catalogue written by  published by the IU Eskenazi Musuem of Art (then know as the Indiana University Art Museum) in 1995 to accompany an exhibition of the museum’s famed ancient jewelry collection. That exhibition traveled to the St. Louis Art Museum, the Museum of Art and Archeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Tampa Museum of Art, as well as being displayed here in Bloomington at our museum. We present this post today to honor Berry for both amassing his wonderful collection, and his generosity in donating it to our museum. He is truly a pivotal donor in the history of our museum. You can currently view a large selection of pieces from the Burton Y. Berry collection in our Spotlights exhibition, on view now through September 4, 2016. Additional works from the Burton Y. Berry Collection are regularly on view in the museum’s Gallery of the Art of Asia and the Ancient Western World, on the second floor.  Continue reading “Spotlights: Burton Yost Berry: A Sketch”


IU Eskenazi Museum of Art Now Home to the Largest Rainwork in the World!

Rainwork in rainstorm
Mandala Rainwork at the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art. Photo by Abe Morris

What is a Rainwork?
Rainworks are rain-activated street art that are completely invisible when dry, and only appear when they are wet. Rainworks are designed to make rainy days happier. They are created by using a super hydrophobic spray called Rainworks Invisible Spray. Rainworks typically last 2 to 4 months.

Who Created Rainworks?
Artists named Peregrine Church and Xack Fischer developed Rainworks in their hometown Seattle, WA (ie. rain capital U.S.A). After a video of Rainworks went viral on the Internet, Rainworks have appeared all over the world.

What Is The Largest Rainwork Ever Created?
The Indiana University Eskenazi Museum of Art in Bloomington, Indiana, commissioned Church and Fischer to install a Rainwork in the plaza in front of the art museum. The result is Mandala, the largest Rainwork ever created, at almost thirty-four feet in diameter. Mandala was installed in eleven hours by Church and Fischer, with additional assistance from Emelie Flower and Abe Morris. It was unveiled before a crowd of hundreds who launched almost 150 water balloons at the Rainwork to make it visible. Find more photos of the installation and unveiling of Mandala below. Church and Fischer are also teaching workshops on how to create Rainworks during their stay in Bloomington. The IU Eskenazi Museum of Art is actively working with organizations and individuals to create more Rainworks in Bloomington, to use this project to take art out into the community and make art a fun and surprising part of people’s daily lives. Many thanks for Peregrine, Xack for their brilliant ideas, and for bringing Rainworks to our community.

Watch a video of the Rainworks unveiling at the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art:


Find out more information about  Rainworks at Rain.works, including how to create your own.

Rainworks at the Eskenazi Museum of Art is made possible in part by the generous support of Linda Watson. Additional thanks to IU Eskenazi Museum of Art director David Brenneman, and the entire museum staff, the Monroe County Public Library, the IU Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, and the City of Bloomington.

Questions? Contact Abe Morris at the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art at: abamorri@iu.edu

IU Eskenazi Museum of Art Website

Rainworks install8 8-17-16
Rainwork installation in progress, L to R: Peregrine Church, Emelie Flower. Photo by Abe Morris.
rainwork install- perry xack
Installation in progress, from L to R: Rainworks founders Peregrine Church and Xack Fischer. Photo by Kevin Montague.
Rainwork unveiling by water balloon. Photo by Kevin Montague.
Rainworks founders Peregrine Church and Xack Fischer with Mandala at the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of Rainworks.

First Thursdays This Fall at the Eskenazi Museum of Art

First Thursdays Image

Expanding on the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s popular Coffeehouse Nights program, on Thursday, September 1, the museum will launch a monthly night of extended evening hours and entertainment. On the first Thursday of every month during the university school year, the museum will be open extended hours from 5 to 8 p.m. Programming will vary, with a variety of unique offerings, including art-making activities, gallery tours, live musical performances, and more. Activities will be tailored for both people brand new to the museum and dedicated art lovers looking for an immersive experience. Food and libations will be available for purchase.

September 1, at 5:15 p.m., art fans will delight in a progressive tour led by the five curators of Spotlights, the museum’s current special exhibition. World music will be featured in the museum atrium starting at 6 p.m. You will also be able to view Rainworks, a rain-activated artwork newly installed near the museum’s iconic Light Totem, by the front entrance of the museum. The galleries will be open to explore and there will be additional opportunities to try new art interactions throughout the evening. It will be a night for casual art fans and people new to the museum, as well as dedicated fans of fine art and museum-going. Details about programming for First Thursdays later this year will be forthcoming. Check in at the museum’s website for updates and the most current information.

Rainwork Image3Example of a Rainwork. Image courtesy of Rainworks.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art’s First Thursdays will coincide with a larger university program that will take place on the Arts Circle around Showalter Fountain, just north of the museum, when weather permits. These events are designed to highlight the amazing offerings in the arts and humanities available at Indiana University and include campus arts organizations such as the IU Auditorium, Grunwald Gallery, IU Cinema, Jacobs School of Music, Lilly Library, Mathers Museum, IU Theatre, and more. More information about First Thursdays at Indiana University is available through the new Arts & Humanities Council website.

If you have an idea for First Thursdays, send us your thoughts at iuam@indiana.edu. First Thursdays at the Eskenazi Museum of Art is made possible in part by the generous support of Gregg and Judy Summerville.

IU Art Museum gallery interior

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


Spotlights: The Fantastic Photos of Julia Margaret Cameron


Image: Julia Margaret Cameron (British 1815-1879). The Mountain of Nymph Sweet Liberty from Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life, 1874. Albumen print mounted on cardstock. Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.28.15

This summer the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is exhibiting Spotlights: Five Views into the Museum’s Collection. Nan Brewer, the museum’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper chose a rare book of photos by nineteenth-century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron for her section of the exhibition. 

The wife of a retired jurist and mother of six, Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815–1879) took up photography at the age of forty-eight. One of the medium’s early pioneers, Cameron is widely recognized for her pictorial artistry. Born in Calcutta, India, Cameron traveled widely during her lifetime, studying in France, and living in England, before her death in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at age sixty-four. The great aunt of author Virginia Woolf, Cameron brushed shoulders with many famous and historical figures of the time.

In 1874, she created an album of 101 miniature versions of her earlier works as “a board of ship companion for my beloved son Hardinge Hay Cameron.” Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life is a rare treasure, available for view in Spotlights on individual pages as it was disbound for repair.

Image: Julia Margaret Cameron (British 1815-1879). W. G. Palgrave from Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life, 1874. Albumen print mounted on cardstock. Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.38.65

The album was created by making small copy photos from images that spanned ten years (all are albumen prints mounted on cardstock). As a personal memento, the album reads like a visual scrapbook of Cameron’s family, friends, neighbors, and members of the Victorian intelligentsia. Among her subjects are naturalist Charles Darwin, the great poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and other colorful characters such as W. G. Palgrave, the Jesuit missionary who would often disguise himself during his travels to then, forbidden lands, and Dejatch Alamayou, the only person outside of the royal family to be buried at Windsor Castle. Interspersed with these portraits are lyrical allegorical vignettes and illustrations of themes from classical mythology, the Bible, and English literature, which Cameron recreated stylistically based on prototypes from Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite painting traditions.

Image: Julia Margaret Cameron (British 1815-1879). Christabel from Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life, 1874 (negative 1866). Albumen print mounted on cardstock. Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.38.8

For more on Julia Margaret Cameron, check out a recent video interview below with contemporary photographer Nan Goldin, as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Artist Project series.

We hope you take this opportunity to visit the museum and see Cameron’s photography and the rest of our Spotlights exhibition for yourself. It is on view through September 4, 2016. If you have any questions please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

Eskenazi Museum of Art website



Spotlights: Two Recent Acquisitions On View in French Sculpture Collection

84.10Image: Jacques Lipchitz (French, born Lithuania, 1891-1973). Harlequin with Guitar, 1926. Bronze. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope, 84.10

This summer the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is offering a special exhibition called Spotlights: Five Views into the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Collection, on view June 11-September 4, 2016. In this exhibition each of the museum’s five curators has chosen a group of objects to highlight due to their rarity, research interest, or importance, as a way of further displaying the range and quality that make the museum’s collection among the best in the country. You can find an overview of the exhibition HERE, and we will be taking a deeper look at the individual collections “spotlighted” here on the blog this summer. This week we focus on a collection of French sculpture curated by Jenny McComas, the museum’s Curator of European and American Art.

Between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, Paris was the birthplace of avant-garde movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism. While the paintings associated with these movements are well known, sculpture, too, played a significant role in the development of modern French art. The Eskenazi Museum of Art has a strong collection of sculptures by artists who were active in France during this time. While some of these works are always on view in the museum’s permanent gallery, this exhibition offers an expanded survey of our holdings in this area, including two new acquisitions, which you can see below.

2016.1Image: Charles Malfray (French, 1887-1940). Rider Crossing the Marne, 1915. Terracotta. Museum purchase with funds from Estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, 2016.1

Charles Malfray’s work blends aspects of classicism and modernism, though many of his subjects referred to his experiences on World War I battlefields. This sculpture may allude to the First Battle of the Marne, which took place in September 1914. Possibly a model for a larger work, this terracotta reveals the spontaneity of Malfray’s working process.

2016.2Image: Marcel Damboise (French 1903-1992). Peasant (La Paysanne), 1938-39. Stone. Gift of Danielle Damboise Françoise, daughter of the artist, 2016.2

Born in Marseilles, Marcel Damboise apprenticed with a stonecutter before moving to Paris to pursue sculpture. Damboise’s work is characterized by a respect for traditional forms and subjects. He also conveyed a sense of modernity by simplifying forms and giving prominence to the mark of the artist’s hand—as evidenced by the patterning carved into this sculpture’s surface. This beautiful work was a generous gift to our museum from the daughter of the artist.

The other sculptures on view as part of our Spotlights exhibition range from the figurative, classicizing sculptures of Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol to more experimental works by the Cubist Henri Laurens and the Surrealist Marcel Jean. As the center of the art world, Paris also attracted artists from around the globe. Some of these immigrants—including Jacques Lipchitz, born to a Jewish family in Lithuania; Alexander Archipenko, a native of Ukraine; and Julio González from Barcelona—were among the most important contributors to the development of French modernism, drawing both on their diverse backgrounds and their enthusiasm for Parisian culture. We hope you take the opportunity to visit the museum and see the full collection on view through September 4, 2016. Admission to the Eskenazi Museum of Art is always FREE. If you have any questions, please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

If you would like to learn more about French Sculpture visit the French Sculpture Census website.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


Eskenazi Museum of Art Hosts Educational Workshop

brab group photo

In June, the education department at the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art hosted Teaching through Visual Arts, a four-day workshop generously funded by the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation. The primary goals of the workshop were to encourage K–12 educators to take the lead in creating pre-visit resource materials and gallery programs and to introduce them to the educational benefits of initiating interdisciplinary and multicultural dialogues through guided visual analyses of original works of art.

The twenty-one participants submitted a proposal around a theme or idea they planned to develop. The education department read the proposals and tailored the workshop sessions around them. Each educator received a binder of museum resources, a stipend to offset expenses, and a voucher for bus transportation to and from the museum for a future gallery session with their students during the 2016–17 academic year.

Educators were grouped into six “teacher teams” according to information drawn from their proposals. An experienced docent from the museum’s Docent Program was matched with each team according to their skills, educational interests, and gallery expertise, serving as the point person throughout the entire workshop. Moureen Coulter, Tina Jernigan, Ilona Richey, Becky Rusie, Kim Simpson, Helena Walsh, and Rich Wolf introduced educators to exercises in guided visual observation, transforming galleries into learning laboratories for enhancing classroom discussions on math, modernism, literature, writing, history, timeline development, social studies, and so forth. With a front row perspective throughout the workshop, the docents will provide presentations that prepare each classroom for their upcoming gallery session.

In addition to exploring all three floors of the museum’s permanent collection, individual teacher teams were treated to an overview of the resources at the Lilly Library, Mathers Museum of World Cultures, and Monroe County History Center, tailored to the themes of their proposal topics. The Indiana Murals of Thomas Hart Benton and the Daily Collection of Hoosier Painting at the IU Auditorium as well as special presentations by Sherry Rouse, curator of campus art, and Nan Brewer, Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator for Works on Paper, assisted these educators in further identifying objectives in their visual-based lessons.

By the end of the workshop, teachers had made their initial selections of masterworks for the pre-visit resource materials and gallery sessions, listed the objectives of their lesson plans, and made presentations to their peers regarding their plans for art-driven lessons, generating discussion and receiving invaluable feedback.

Evaluations as well as extensive notes taken from these teachers’ presentations will supply essential information for the museum’s education department to compile and edit final drafts of twenty-one new PowerPoints. Each teacher will test and tweak these preparatory materials with their students, while assessing and refining the effectiveness of the gallery session during visits to the museum with their students next academic year.

Ed Maxedon, the museum’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Education, states, “The education department believes this pioneering approach to creating K–12 gallery programming will have a multiplying effect, adding new gallery programs annually.  Classroom teachers will be more likely to use this program because they initiated it and have invested their time and expertise. All of these K–12 educators are dedicated, setting aside a week of their summer vacations to try something completely new. Teachers, students, docents and practicum students will add their voices to help determine a quality program.”

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


Spotlights Exhibition: Japanese Surimono Prints

70.4.73Image: Sadaoka Gakutei (Japanese, 1786[?]-1868). First Companion of the Writing Chamber: Ink, ca. 1827. Surimono: ink, metallic powders, and color on paper. Eskenazi Museum of Art 70.4.73

This summer the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is offering a special exhibition called Spotlights: Five Views into the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Collection, on view June 11-September 4, 2016. In this exhibition each of the museum’s five curators has chosen a group of objects to highlight due to their rarity, research interest, or importance, as a way of further displaying the range and quality that make the museum’s collection among the best in the country. You can find an overview of the exhibition HERE, and we will be taking a deeper look at the individual collections “spotlighted” here on the blog this summer. First up is an exquisite collection of Japanese surimono woodblock prints, curated by Judy Stubbs, the museum’s Pamela Buell Curator of Asian Art. Stay tuned for future updates. 

The Eskenazi Museum of Art is fortunate to have a collection of almost ninety surimono, or special-edition prints, in various formats. However, these appealing prints are rarely exhibited because of their light-sensitive pigments. The prints in Spotlights have not been on display as a group since 1979, when Professor Theodore Bowie (Indiana University Department of Fine Arts) curated an exhibition of surimono that was accompanied by a groundbreaking catalogue. Spotlights offers a welcome opportunity to research these prints anew, add information, and display two newly acquired prints for the first time.

The word surimono means “printed thing,” a definition that does little to explain this exquisite genre of woodblock printing, which combines poetry and imagery. Developed in the late eighteenth century, surimono prints were privately commissioned and exchanged between friends and colleagues–especially members of poetry groups–as gifts, rather than sold commercially. As such, surimono required a high level of collaboration between artist, printer, and patron. Produced in small numbers, the prints offered opportunities for the use of elaborate printing techniques and luxurious materials such as fine paper and gold and silver inks.

2016.25Image: Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807-1891). A Cock, a Chicken, and Chicks, 1861, Year of the Rooster. Surimono: ink and color on paper. Purchased with funds from the Thomas T. Solley Endowed Fund for Asian Art and the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anne Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, Eskenazi Museum of Art 2016.25


The prints displayed in Spotlights were made for a variety of occasions, especially as New Year’s cards, but also as eulogies, invitations, and anything related to Kabuki actors. During the Edo period (1603-1868), Kabuki plays were an extremely popular form of entertainment. Additionally, two examples of the surimono subgroup Egoyomi, or calendar prints, are on view. Initially, surimono were printed in a wide variety of sizes, until about 1810 when the shikishiban, or square print format (size 20.5 x 18.5 cm), became the norm. Surimono prints often include one or more kyoka, or “wild verse” poetry, which often take visual cues from the accompanying images to create puns for the puzzlement and enjoyment of the viewer.

2016.24Image: Ryuryuko Shinsai (active 1799-1823). Lacquer Box and Writing Implements, 1818, Year of the Tiger. Commissioned by the Shakuyakutei Poetry Group. Surimono: ink, metallic pigments, and color on paper. Purchased with funds from the Thomas T. Solley Endowed Fund for Asian Art and the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, Eskenazi Museum of Art 2016.24


In total, twenty-one surimono are on view in the Spotlights exhibition. We hope you will take the opportunity to visit the museum and see this rarely exhibited collection for yourself. If you would like to learn more about Japanese woodblock prints we recommend you visit the website Viewing Japanese Prints, which offers a wealth of information on the subject. If you have any questions, please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website



New Research on Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Islamic Ceramics Collection

Image: Iran, Qajar Dynasty. Horse and Rider, 19th century. Tile; stonepaste (fritware) with polychrome glaze. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope, Eskenazi Museum of Art 62.183


The Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes forty-seven ceramic objects from the Islamic world dating from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries. These encompass all major forms – bowls, jars, pitchers, platters, and tiles – as well as some less common types such as human and animal figurines. Particularly notable are sixteen pieces of “cobalt-and-luster” ware, a type of pottery associated with the site of Raqqa, Syria, in the early thirteenth century. Acquired by the museum during the 1960s and 1970s, to date this extremely important and attractive collection has not been studied in any depth, nor have the majority of the pieces from it ever been published. Margaret Graves, Assistant Professor in Indiana University’s Department of Art History, and Judith Stubbs, the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Pamela Buell Curator of Asian Art, are now undertaking a project to research this collection, through a grant awarded by Indiana University’s New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program.

Image: Syria, Raqqa. Albarello, early 13th century. Stonepaste (fritware) with cobalt decoration under a transparent glaze and luster overglaze painting. H. 10 x 5 1/2 in. (25.39 x 13.96 cm). Eskenazi Museum of Art 72.6.5


This project will include a technical investigation of all pieces in the collection using techniques such as UV and X-ray analysis, thermoluminescence testing, and conservation analysis. Additionally, Graves will be publishing scholarly articles about her research on this collection, and an online catalogue of the collection will be created. When completed this project will represent a significant addition to the field of Islamic art, and will mirror similar efforts recently undertaken by other museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Harvard Art Museums.

We will continue to share news from this exciting research happening at our museum as it is completed.

Image: Iran. Aquamanile [Water Vessel] in the Form of a Ram, ca. 1170-1200. Stonepaste with luster painting over an opaque white glaze. H. 5 3/4 x W. 2 in. (14.6 x 5.07 cm). Eskenazi Museum of Art 60.58

If you have questions please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu

Eskenazi Museum of Art Website


Your Favorite Things: Lydia Schmitt and Pablo Picasso’s The Studio

lydia3Lydia Schmitt and Pablo Picasso’s The Studio

This is the second installment of a new series in which students, community members, and staff share their favorite works at the IU Art Museum. This week’s feature is by Lydia Schmitt, a freshman at IU Bloomington majoring in Arts Management with minors in Art History and English. Lydia selected Pablo Picasso’s oil painting The Studio (1934), which is on permanent display in the museum’s first floor Gallery of the Art of the Western World. Here is what she had to say:

I vividly remember the first time I saw it. It was welcome week of my freshman year and my friends and I had spent the whole day exploring IU’s campus when I finally convinced them to go to the art museum with me. I was pumped to see what the museum had and they were excited for the air conditioning.

I could hardly contain my excitement as we explored the different galleries. We passed different pieces, each of us trying to recall facts we had learned in art history classes. I remember thinking it couldn’t get any better, and then I saw it. We were rounding the end of the first floor exhibit and as my friends and I were joking about Marcel Duchamp’s urinal (Duchamp’s famous Readymade statue, The Fountain), I caught a glimpse. I couldn’t even believe it. A Picasso? Here? I made a beeline for it.

I stood in front of The Studio mouth agape while my friends quickly followed behind me. A choir of “I don’t see it” ascended. “Well look at this, and this, and look at how these connect to make this,” I explained while frantically gesturing with my arms trying to make them get it. After every explanation I tried to give, I kept seeing new parts of the painting connect. It was like building a puzzle. I was mystified and would have been able to sit there the rest of the day just figuring it out and piecing it together.

Months later, and I am still entranced by Picasso’s The Studio. What an amazing blessing it is to have such impressive pieces here at Indiana University’s art museum. I frequently visit the museum just to sit and stare at this painting. It’s like visiting an old friend but I’m still able to learn something new about it every time.

Many thanks to Lydia for her contribution. If you would like to share your favorite work, please contact Abe Morris, the IU Art Museum’s Manager of Public Relations and Marketing, at: abamorri@iu.edu


Your Favorite Things: Sasha Sokolchik and Mountain Landscape with Travelers


This is the first installment of a new series where students, community members, and staff share their favorite works at the IU Art Museum. This week’s feature is by Alexandra “Sasha” Sokolchik, a freshman at Indiana University Bloomington majoring in Economic Consulting. Sasha selected Mountain Landscape with Travelers, a large oil painting on canvas, attributed to Jan Hackaert (Netherlandish, 1628-in or after 1685), and Adriaen van de Velde (Netherlandish, 1636-1672), located in the museum’s first floor Gallery of the Art of the Western World. Here is what Sasha had to say:

What I love most about this painting is how small it makes me feel. Not insignificant, but rather, all of my problems become so trivial, so irrelevant.  My world expands and I am reminded of the bigger painting all around me. I will not be here in a hundred years and I cannot say with certainty how much longer our world will look the way it does today, how long these trees will stay rooted, or these mountains unbroken, but I do know that life will continue no matter the form it decides to take.

I am brought back to reality every time I take in Mountain Landscape with Travelers, remembering that this life is about simplicity. Without bounds, it is everlasting yet I find myself caught up in every day monotony at times. Without a constant mnemonic I casually forget about the fact that I am simply human. A human, just as the millions before me and the millions after me. It serves as a reminder that I should not carry burden on my shoulder and simply live to expand my knowledge and happiness.

I always wonder where the traveler sitting on the side of the dirt road has come from. What is in that bag that he tosses over his shoulder and carries with him along his adventures? What are his thoughts as he sits turned to the lake and mountains under the shade of a tree? More exciting than that; where is this man headed? My future, like his, is up in the air waiting for the wind to blow it in the right direction.

I am excited for whatever my compass needle decides to show but for now, I know that the IU Art Museum will always have a place for me to come ponder and reflect. It is always comforting when a book seems to have been written about you, or a song sung about your life; but through a painting, the text is written into every brush stroke and the song is sung with every color, bringing out those emotions with an entirely new intensity. These are just my sentiments though and I am only a simple observer sitting at the top of a hill by the side of a dirt road.

Many thanks to Sasha for her contribution. Stay tuned for more stories in “Your Favorite Things.” If you would like to contribute to the series, contact Abe Morris the IU Art Museum’s Manager of Public Relations and Marketing at: abamorri@iu.edu


IU Art Museum’s Light Totem Goes Green!


In January, solar panels were installed on the roof of the IU Art Museum to generate enough power to offset the electricity used by our iconic sculpture Light Totem, created in 2007 by Rob Shakespeare, IU professor emeritus in Lighting Design. This project was the initiative of the IU Art Museum Green Team led by the efforts of Jeanne Leimkuhler. The project was funded by a grant from the Indiana University Student Sustainability Council, with additional funding provided by Facility Operations, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities, and the Office of Sustainability at Indiana University. This project is a tremendous example of collaboration between students, faculty, and staff across multiple departments at Indiana University. We hope that Light Totem can now be seen not only as a shining beacon for the arts at Indiana University, but also as an inspiration for future endeavors to make our campus and world a greener and more sustainable place.

“The request was for a PV [photovoltaic] system that would offset 100% of Light Totem‘s annual energy consumption, which is estimated at 4700kWH. The system installed is estimated to produce 5083kWH annually, so our goal is exceeded.  We will be able to track actual energy production to see if the system performs as expected.”- Eric Goy, Senior Electric Engineer at Indiana University, Facility Operations, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities

“There is a lot to like about the project from a sustainability perspective, but I’m particularly impressed by the cross-campus collaboration that allowed this to happen. The project started with the Art Museum’s Green Team proposal to the Student Sustainability Council. After the council voted to fund the project, Vice President of Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison, generously supplemented the council’s contribution, which allowed this project to happen from a financial standpoint. It is a great story of students, faculty, and staff collaborating to bring more renewable energy to IU.”- Andrew Predmore Associate Director of Sustainability, Office of Sustainability, Indiana University

“The Student Sustainability Council is proud to have supported this project with the student sustainability fund. Our member organizations were in unanimous support of this exciting project; it is an iconic part of the Bloomington campus and the project makes a statement about the importance of transitioning to renewable energy use.”- James French, Indiana University Student Sustainability Council

“The Greening of the Light Totem was brought about by the IU student body and now they will know, as they are enjoying the ever-changing colored wall at night, that the sculpture is being powered with clean energy from the sun. As we all move toward a more sustainable energy future, it is exciting to see the IU Art Museum leading the way with this very colorful project.” – Jeanne Leimkuhler, former IU Art Museum Green Team President and Works on Paper Preparator

Photos of the solar panel installation:



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New Acquisitions: African American Art


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A group of local community, university, and business leaders, headed by Donald Griffin Jr., broker/owner of Griffin Realty, has formed a coalition to help the IU Art Museum build its collection of works by African American artists. These first acquisitions of what is hoped to become an annual endeavor include an ink drawing by Benny Andrews and prints by leading contemporary artists Kerry James Marshall and Martin Puryear (featured above). The installation containing these works is currently on view in celebration of Black History Month in February, and continues through July 11. You will find this installation in the museum’s Gallery of the Art of the Western World, on the first floor, just to the left of the gallery entrance. You can see a number of other works by prominent African American artists such as Thornton Dial and Robert Colescott on display in the gallery as well. For more information about works by African American artists in the museum’s collection check out our web module on African American art. If you like the new works, you can find more of Martin Puryear’s work in an exhibition currently happening at the Art Institute of Chicago, that runs through May 3. Kerry James Marshall has an exhibition of his work opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago on April 23.

Image: Martin Puryear (American, born 1941). Phrygian (Cap in the Air), 2012. Color soft-ground etching with spit-bite aquatint, aquatint, and drypoint on paper. Museum purchase with funds from Donald, Nicole, and Dexter Griffin, Janice and William Wiggins Jr., Mary E. Wiggins, Kevin and Dianne Brown, Beverly Calender-Anderson, Frank Motley and Valeri Haughton-Motley, Jay and Kenndra Thompson, and Tanya Mitchell-Yeager in honor of Black History Month, and the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, 2015.159


New Osiris Camera Can Look Inside A Painting

The IU Art Museum’s conservation department purchased an Osiris infrared camera in 2015 with funds awarded to the museum from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation. The infrared images made with the camera allow conservators to look through the surface paint layer of a painting at any underdrawing. This is used to understand the artist’s process and is a unique tool in authenticating works of art as well. WTIU’s program The Weekly Special interviewed Margaret Contompasis, the IU Art Museum’s Beverly and Gayl W. Doster Conservator of Paintings, and Conservation Assistant Ellen Lyon, about the new camera, and their current project analyzing twenty-nine paintings in the IU Art Museum’s permanent collection attributed to the nineteenth century American painter Thomas Chambers. Watch the video below. For more information you can also read a feature about the new camera at Inside IU.


IU Art Museum Tour Leads to a Young Student Meeting Artist John Himmelfarb

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Artist John Himmelfarb and University Elementary student Arlo Altop

Education is at the heart of the IU Art Museum’s mission. We strive to use our collection to help students better understand the world through the language of art. In 2014, almost 4,000 primary and secondary school students and over 11,000 college students toured the IU Art Museum. Here is a story of one student whose tour led to something even greater.

Towards the end of the 2015 school year, University Elementary’s first grade class toured the IU Art Museum. While in the Doris Steinmetz Kellett Gallery of Twentieth-Century Art, one student in particular, Arlo Altop, fell in love with Chicago artist John Himmelfarb’s painting of a truck, titled Forbearance. Apparently trucks are one of Arlo’s favorite things and he was so excited by the painting he saw that he went home, started drawing trucks, and asked his mother, Rebecca, the name of the artist whose painting had seen at the museum. She did a little research and contacted Mr. Himmelfarb to tell him how his work had impacted her son. To her surprise, she received a reply from Himmelfarb soon after, inviting Arlo and the family to Chicago to attend the opening of his most recent exhibition No Exit: Thirty Years of Trucks, Icons and Weird Drawings at the McCormick Gallery in Chicago. The Altops were able to attend the opening and Mr. Himmelfarb was both pleased and surprised that they were able to make it. He spent a good deal of time showing Arlo around the exhibition (as you can see from the photos included here). Himmelfarb informed us that the sculpture in these photos is largely comprised of parts from a 1951 International truck that was given to him by none other than the IU Art Museum’s Director Emerita Heidi Gealt. As Arlo’s mom, Rebecca, said of the trip “Art is so important, I am just happy that my first grader has already had the experience of being moved by it.”

You can find out more about John Himmelfarb and his work at his website. You can also of course stop by the IU Art Museum, where Himmelfarb’s Forbearance is on permanent display.

(Special thanks to Rebecca Altop for sharing this story with us and providing the photos seen here.)

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From Paris to Polynesia: Paul Gauguin at the IU Art Museum

Paul Gauguin, The Invocation, French, 1848 - 1903, 1903, oil on canvas, Gift from the Collection of John and Louise Booth in memory of their daughter Winkie

Image: Paul Gauguin (French, 1848 – 1903). The Invocation, 1903. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., gift from the collection of John and Louise Booth in memory of their daughter Winkie, 1976.63.1

The IU Art Museum is pleased to announce that it will display a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin (1848‒1903) during the 2015‒16 academic year. The painting, entitled The Invocation, 1903, is on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The work is being loaned in exchange for the IU Art Museum’s painting The Yerres, Effect of Rain by impressionist Gustave Caillebotte (1848‒1894) which will appear in the National Gallery’s exhibition Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye.

The Invocation will be featured in a special installation in the IU Art Museum’s Gallery of the Art of the Western World. The installation, From Paris to Polynesia: Paul Gauguin at the IU Art Museum, opens October 1, 2015. Three prints by Gauguin, drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, will also be on view.

Considered one of the most important French artists of the 19th century, Paul Gauguin was a leading member of the Symbolism movement, which rejected realism in favor of spiritual and dreamlike imagery. Gauguin developed a style characterized by pure, flat color, simplified forms, and spiritual subject matter.

Gauguin spent most of the 1890s in Tahiti, where he incorporated Polynesian imagery and spiritual allusions into his work. Disappointed that Tahitian traditional culture had been largely destroyed by European colonialism, Gauguin moved to the more remote Marquesas Islands in 1901, where he died less than two years later. One of his final works, The Invocation, alludes to the displacement of traditional Polynesian beliefs by Christianity. The painting depicts a nude female figure standing before a verdant landscape with her arms stretched upwards. Her pose of prayer or invocation contrasts with the figure behind her, who wears the long, loose dress introduced to Polynesia by Christian missionaries, and with the small Catholic church visible in the background.

In conjunction with the loan, the Gauguin biopic, The Wolf at the Door, is scheduled to be shown at the IU Cinema on January 10, 2016. Plans are also underway for additional programming to take place during the spring semester. Please check the museum’s website, www.artmuseum.iu.edu, for additional information.


Reconstructing History to Help Others See Beyond the Image

Last month IU Art Museum painting conservation technician Ellen Lyon attended a week-long technical art history workshop at the University of Delaware, taught by Brian Baade and Kristin deGhetaldi. The workshop was sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to highlight the working methods of Early Italian tempera painters. Each participant created a small-scale reconstruction of a 14th century Italian egg tempera painted panel by Giovanni Del Biondo from the Kress Collection at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico (The IUAM has its own Kress Collection of 14 works, a 1961 gift of the Kress Foundation, many of which are on permanent view in our first-floor gallery.)

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The Biondo panel of the Hebrew Prophet was originally part of The Coronation of the Virgin high altarpiece in the Oratorio di San Lorenzo at San Giovanni Valdarno in Arezzo, in the Tuscany region of Italy. The outer pinnacle on the right wing (outlined in blue) is the Hebrew Prophet featured in this years’ workshop.



The reconstruction is made to reveal the many layers below the image that are needed to create this type of work. The artist and/or studio began with a sanded and sized wooden panel and each subsequent layer on the reconstruction shows one or more steps in the process:

1. Wood
2. Animal glue sizing
3. Linen
4. Gesso grosso
5. Gesso sottile
6. Scraped gesso
7. Underdrawing with charcoal and then reinforced with black ink/incised lines/red bole
8. Burnished gold and areas of underpainting
9. Finished painting and punchwork added to gilding

Ellen’s reconstruction (photo to the left) shows each of these layers as a vertical band, enabling viewers to see clearly the order in which these materials were applied.

In the fall, Ellen will be sharing her workshop experience, finished panel, and pigment set with Tavy Aherne’s class, Artists’ Materials and Techniques. There are future plans for a presentation to the IUAM docents and a Noon Talk that will be open to the public. Please watch our calendar for the date.

Debra Hess Norris, chair and professor of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware describes the program in this way: “Since 2009, the University of Delaware has been awarded a series of grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to support the design and creation of digital and physical historically accurate reconstructions of selected paintings from the Kress Collection. Use of these didactics and associated lesson plans, as well as sample sets of historic pigments and their raw materials available upon request from the Kress Foundation, will inform and inspire scholars, students, and the general public about the making of art and the value of technical art history.”


Recent Acquisitions: Arts of Kenya

Mijikenda peoples, Kenya. Stool, 20th century (collected 1977). Wood. IU Art Museum 2014.266

A remarkable collection of over two hundred examples of the traditional arts of Kenya was recently acquired by the Indiana University Art Museum, making it the premier art museum in the country for research on traditional Kenyan visual arts.

The objects were field-collected in Kenya between 1973 and 1979 by Los Angeles collector and dealer Ernie Wolfe III. The collection is particularly strong in the arts of pastoral peoples, especially the Turkana and the Maasai, but it includes objects for everyday and special occasions from all over Kenya. About half of the collection consists of jewelry—bracelets, armlets, necklaces, earrings, labrets—and garments of hide, beads, ivory, and metal. Containers for food, drink, and personal items made of wood, calabash, hide, basketry are also well represented, as are stools and headrests. Walking sticks, shields, weapons, and tools round out the collection. A similar collection could not be assembled today because many of the objects are no longer being made or used.

Pokot peoples, Kenya. Headrest. 20th century (collected 1978). Wood, leather, glass beads, IU Art Museum 2014.247

As Ernie Wolfe considered a permanent home for this collection, his long friendship with Roy Sieber, who taught African art history at Indiana University from 1962 until his death in 2001, made Wolfe think of the IU Art Museum. Indeed, the collector has noted that Roy Sieber encouraged him to keep careful documentation of objects as he acquired them, and, as a result, each of the Kenyan objects has come to us with information about when and where it was acquired as well as how it was used.

Acquisition of this collection was made possible by the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Fund, which supports the arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Native and Pre-Columbian Americas at the IU Art Museum, with generous assistance from the IU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. Additional objects in the collection made of ivory, which can no longer be sold in the U.S., were given to the IU Art Museum by the Wolfe family in honor of Roy Sieber.

First shown in 1979 at the National Museum of African Art, this remarkable collection of the arts of Kenya will be on view in the IU Art Museum’s Special Exhibitions Gallery in spring 2016. Plans are also currently underway for a website to make images of the objects and information about them available worldwide.

Diane Pelrine
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Curator of the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific,
and the Americas. 


From the IU Art Museum to Sotheby’s: A Conversation with Aimee Pflieger

FullSizeRender (1)Aimee Pflieger is an Indiana University success story. After completing both a BA in Art History in 1999 and an MA in modern American art in 2001 at Indiana University, Aimee has been moving up in the world of art. During her college years she got a start working at the IU Art Museum as a Fess Graduate Assistant in the Works on Paper Department. After her time at IU, Aimee worked in galleries in Chicago and Philadelphia before beginning a significant tenure at Freeman’s Auction House. In 2015, Aimee was hired by Sotheby’s in New York, where she currently works as a Specialist in the Photographs Department. You might have even seen her on Antiques Roadshow when in April of 2015 she appraised the highest-valued photographs in the history of the show. Aimee was kind enough to take some time out of her busy day to discuss her current role at Sotheby’s and her time at IU and the IU Art Museum:

Indiana University Art Museum: What was your degree at IU, and what areas of study/topics were your focus?

Aimee Pflieger: I pursued a Master’s degree in art history, with a specialization in the history of photography. I also took a good deal of coursework in German, studio art, photojournalism, religious studies, and literature.

IUAM: Why did you attend IU? What drew you to IU and Bloomington?

AP: I had always heard about how fantastic IUB was for fine arts–music, theater, studio art, and more. As I was researching college options, I began to read more about the art history department at IUB and was impressed by the instructors and facilities and I knew that it would be a good choice for me. It turned out to be a better fit than I could have imagined, as I quickly learned how great it was to have a world-class, encyclopedic art museum on campus, as well as the wonderful Fine Arts Library a few paces from my dorm room.

IUAM: What was your first experience at the IU Art Museum?

AP: I visited the museum as a freshman in an art history survey class, and Ed Maxedon, the curator of education, gave us a tour of the museum highlights. His enthusiasm was infectious and he really made the collections come alive. It was at that time that I started looking into opportunities to work there in some capacity during my studies.

IUAM: Tell me about your time working at the IU Art Museum?

AP: I was very fortunate to have received the Fess Graduate Assistantship as a graduate student, which afforded me the opportunity to work with the works on paper area. Nan Brewer, the curator of works on paper, really went out of her way to mentor me, and I learned a great deal from her. I spent many hours cataloging photographs by Art Sinsabaugh, whose archives are held at the museum. I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the fact that I was able to see an artist’s entire body of work in one place until later in my career, when I realized how unique that situation truly was.

IUAM: What is your current position at Sotheby’s?

AP: I am a Specialist in the Photographs Department.

IUAM: How did you land the job?

AP: I saw the opening advertised on their website, and simply applied! It is a rare for an opening in that department to become available, so I knew I would have to jump at the opportunity. There was a series of interviews with the department to make sure that I was a good fit for the team, both in terms of my expertise but also my personality, since it’s a small, close-knit department.

IUAM: What is a typical day in your role at Sotheby’s?

AP: My workdays never look the same! Some of my responsibilities include visiting or speaking with potential consignors regarding their photographs and providing auction estimates for the works in their collections. I also advise buyers interested in particular lots in upcoming sales, since they may have questions about provenance or condition of an artwork. I assist with client appraisals for insurance purposes. Sometimes I spend time researching in our library and writing essays for our catalogues.

IUAM: How did your education at IU help prepare you for your role at Sotheby’s?

AP: Having access to such a wide range of coursework with world-renowned scholars was a boon to my career. After all, the history of art is really not just about art appreciation, but is composed of many different fields of study, such as language, religion, politics, and history.

IUAM: How did your experience at the IU Art Museum help you prepare for your job at Sotheby’s?

AP: During my fellowship I learned the basics of cataloging, doing condition reports, and handling artwork properly. That hands-on experience was invaluable.


IU Art Museum Welcomes New Director David Brenneman


David Brenneman

We are happy to welcome David A. Brenneman as the new director of the Indiana University Art Museum beginning July 1. In commenting on his appointment, Brenneman said “I feel immensely proud and honored to be the next director of the Indiana University Art Museum, one of America’s top university art museums. I will succeed a distinguished and esteemed colleague in Heidi Gealt, and I am delighted to take the reins of such a noteworthy collection and excellent staff from her. I foresee a very bright future for this important cultural treasure house. Over the summer, I look forward to getting to know the staff and friends of the museum as well as the larger university community and to settling into Bloomington with my wife, Ruth, and two children, Ivy and Leo.”

David Brenneman received his PhD in art history from Brown University and also graduated from the Getty Museum Leadership Institute in 2004. He brings more than twenty years of experience at art museums and almost thirteen years as a senior administrator at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where he was most recently the director of collections and exhibitions. Among his many accomplishments at the High, he led the curatorial team that planned and executed the 2003 renovation and reinstallation of the museum’s Richard Meier-designed building, as well as the 2005 installation of the permanent collection in Renzo Piano-designed galleries. In addition, he worked with Emory University art history faculty to secure a Mellon Foundation grant to fund object-centered research by Emory University graduate students, and he led the Louvre Atlanta project, a three-year series of exhibitions and programs from the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Following a national search, David Brenneman becomes the fourth director to lead the museum since its founding in 1941. Henry Radford Hope, the museum’s first director, and his successor Thomas T. Solley established the museum’s encyclopedic collections. Brenneman succeeds Adelheid (“Heidi”) M. Gealt, whose accomplishments include leading the museum in the development of programming to engage the university and local communities.

Both collections and engagement are important to Brenneman: “Museums need to be a part of their communities and to reflect and lead the diversity and ideals of the communities they serve,” he said. “Bloomington attracts faculty and students from around the world. The IU Art Museum ‘s collection is special because it contains masterpieces from throughout human history and from all corners of the earth– and just about everybody’s background is relfected.



A Farewell Note from Adelheid M. Gealt

Heidi GealtAs we welcome a new director, David Brenneman, I am filled with pride and gratitude to all those who helped grow the IU Art Museum into the noteworthy institution it is today, one that can attract a leader of David Brenneman’s outstanding caliber. From President Michael McRobbie and first lady Laurie McRobbie, to Provost Lauren Robel, to Vice President Thomas Morrison, to Chief of Police Laury Flint– IU’s leadership has embraced the IU Art Museum, helping it to continue to thrive as my predecessors, Henry Radford Hope and Thomas T. Solley, envisioned.

To the IU Art Museum staff, heartfelt thanks for your professionalism, your dedication, your hard work, and your participation in the team efforts that led to so many excellent projects over the years. I wish I had space to name you all individually here, and I hope you all know how truly grateful I am to each and every one of you.

To the IU Art Museum National Advisory Board, so ably chaired by Robert LeBien and Anthony J. Moravec, bless you and thank you! You have helped transform our museum with your gifts of time, advice, advocacy, and philanthropy! To my friends at the IU Foundation, thank you for embracing a novice academic and patiently giving me the expertise to help sustain and advance the goals of the museum. I have had the opportunity to meet truly remarkable and generous people who, because they love IU, have reached out to the Art Museum and have become lifelong and treasured friends. As director (soon to be emerita) I speak for all our visitors who have benefited from your support of the IU Art Museum.

To all the students and faculty who have engaged with the IU Art Museum during the past twenty-five years, thank you for the fun of collaboration, of shared learning, of exchanging views and perspectives regarding a collection that is infinite in its possibilities for research and discovery! To the artists, present and past, who make something out of nothing–your creativity is at the heart of our museum.

To quote Dr. Herman B Wells, a steadfast friend of the IU Art Museum, whose vision launched our museum, I’ve been truly lucky.

Thank you!

Adelheid M. Gealt



IU Art Museum Wins 2015 Visit Bloomington Award for “Best Attraction” in Bloomington!


The Indiana University Art Museum has won the 2015 Visit Bloomington Award for “Best Attraction” in Bloomington. The award was decided by a popular vote; thank you to all who voted for us! IU Art Museum Director Heidi Gealt, accepted the award on the museum’s behalf at a special awards luncheon last week held at the Four Winds Resort and Marina. We would also like to extend a big congratulations to the other Visit Bloomington award recipients:

Best Restaurant or Bar: Michael’s Uptown Cafe
Best Attraction: Indiana University Art Museum
Best Festival or Event: Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market
Best Retail or Gift Shop: Global Gifts
Best Lodging Property: Grant Street Inn
Tourism Partner of the Year: Zac Strabbing, Markey’s Exposition Services
Tourism Partner of the Year: Sean Hanlon, Fairfield Inn

IU Art Museum Director Heidi Gealt accepts our 2015 Visit Bloomington Award from Visit Bloomington's Executive Director Mike McAfee
IU Art Museum Director Heidi Gealt accepts our 2015 Visit Bloomington Award from Visit Bloomington’s Executive Director Mike McAfee

Different Strokes …

In the special exhibition Brush Ink Paper, calligraphy and paintings from China and Japan are displayed coming from the collection of Dr. Thomas Kuebler. Though one may not speak or read the respective languages from these countries, a visitor can still enjoy the aesthetic and beauty of the works presented.

The written language, particularly in China, is very old, dating back to the Bronze Age. While we can focus on the language’s history, I’m more concerned with the style and the evolution of the appearance of written characters. In this post, I will be discussing four styles of script: seal, clerical, running, and cursive. Each new way of writing seems to have come about organically throughout the ages but at the same time rules governed the way characters were formed. The different styles mixed, evolved, and sort of “grew up” together in early China.

Seal script is the oldest style from the latter part of the Shang Dynasty, around 1200 BCE. As you can see from the image, seal script is very rounded at the ends of strokes. It is also symmetrically balanced and each line is of equal thickness.


Today this style is used on signature seals such as this one from the National Taiwan University.


From seal script evolved clerical script, which was dominant in the Han Dynasty (206 BCE –220 CE). Now we have characters that are looking more modern and recognizable—and it’s only 206 BCE! But, of course, there are still differences and unique characteristics. The brush strokes create very wide lines, and some of the more dominate lines—like the one in the bottom character – end in a wavelike flare. This style is also still used today, usually as an artistic choice in advertising.


Running script was developed from clerical script during the Han Dynasty as well. This type of writing is quite different from the previous two. Strokes are allowed to run into one another; they are also more fluid and abstract as compared to the angular style of clerical script. While writing, a calligrapher’s brush often does not leave the paper but flows from one stroke into the next, as you can see in the top character.


Finally, cursive script, which also developed in the Han Dynasty and further refined in the Jin Dynasty (265–420 CE), is a child of clerical script. Here, characters are highly simplified and the calligrapher’s brush does not leave the paper at all. Certain lines in a character are usually modified or eliminated to create this fluidness. The objective for this script is to emphasize its aesthetic appeal more than the characters themselves. This also makes it so it is not particularly legible to the untrained eye and therefore is not often used outside the realm of artistic calligraphy.


My goal with this post was to make it somewhat easier to identify and understand some of the styles that calligraphers use. Though these four styles represent just the very tip of the iceberg, I hope this post sparked new interest in calligraphy.


The Life of Pierre Daura

How many times have we recognized a painting almost immediately, but cannot quite recall the artist’s name? If we do know the artist’s name, how much do we actually know about him or her or their life? An artist’s personal experiences and surroundings influence their work and specific style.

Therefore, I wanted to take a moment to really delve into the life of the current artist on display: Pierre Daura. The special exhibition, which runs until December 21, focuses on how Daura’s family inspired his work throughout his career. Typically the lives of artists are quite fascinating and sometimes scandalous. It is history and facts that you can’t make up. Daura is no exception. He had a life affected by the times and events happening around him.

Born Pedro Francisco Daura y Garcia in 1896, Pierre grew up in Barcelona, Spain. The name Pierre only came about when he moved to Paris in 1914 and was issued his French identity papers. He sold his first painting when he was only fourteen and worked with Emile Bernard, a French Post-Impressionist painter, after he moved to Paris. Unfortunately, in 1923, Pierre’s left hand was badly injured and became useless after his scaffolding collapsed while working on a mural in Normandy. Tragedy struck again in 1927 when Daura’s and Gustavo Cochet’s batik material business burned down.

In 1929, Pierre helped organize a group of artists calling themselves Cercle et Carré, or Circle and Square. This group “promoted geometric construction and abstraction in opposition to Surrealism.” They and their one exhibition in Paris were completely ignored by the French press in 1930. Individually though, Pierre had several exhibitions in both Spain and France from 1928 to 1935.

Soon after, he signed up to fight in the Spanish Civil War against the dictator Francisco Franco. Six months later, he was severely injured and sent back to France, and he refused to return to Spain causing him to lose his citizenship. The war also affected his viewpoint on life and things such as fame became of little importance.

Daura and his family left Europe in 1939 for Virginia, where his wife was from. He no longer sold his art in commercial galleries but from his home and academic venues. Daura created both abstract and representational sculptures and paintings throughout his life. He passed away in January 1976 and is buried in Virginia.

In his later years Daura said:

All I have ever wanted to do is to find a way to paint. I have painted. I have worked. I have given myself to my art. That is what I have wanted since my very early age…to be an artist, good or bad…that is what I am.

According to Lynchburg College, where Daura was once the chairman of the Art Department, “Pierre Daura’s strength as an artist was that he understood, experimented with, and absorbed diverse influences, distilled from them what was significant to him, and developed his own distinctive way to paint.”


  1. Davis, Virginia Irby. A Biography of Catalan-American Artist Pierre Daura 1896-1976. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd. 2001.
  2. Macià, Teresa. Pierre Daura (1896-1976). Barcelona: Àmbit Serveis Editorials, S. A., 1999.
  3. Pierre Daura Archive, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia.
  4. Pierre Daura: His Life, Daura Gallery, Lynchburg College.



The spring semester is coming to a close but before the IU Art Museum begins to embark on summer festivities, events, and programming, we are taking a look back at this year’s newsworthy topics written about by students like you in the Indiana Daily Student:


Advancing American Art
Advancing American Art: Art Interrupted (COURTESY PHOTO: IDS)

This year’s first Special Exhibition, Advancing American Art: Art Interrupted, recreated an exhibition from the World War II era. The original exhibition intended to exhibit to foreign nations the ideas of American art, freedom, and democracy, but was considered by many to be too controversial due to the employment of artists who were perceived as leftist and due to artistic styles.  The United States Congress ultimately cancelled the exhibition and auctioned it off.  The traveling exhibition featured 117 paintings from the original exhibition that were on view through December.


In October 2013, a temporary exhibit took root in the IU Art Museum’s Thomas T. Solley Atrium. Presented by the members of the Indianapolis Bonsai Club, this pop-up exhibition presented a unique artistic experience on sculpture demonstration in the IU Art Museum atrium for the Bonsai Tree Exhibition Visitors to the museum were invited to learn the skill behind this Japanese art form as Scott Yelich, the president, demonstrated to visitors how to craft these whimsical creatures of Mother Earth.


Shadowy Figures
Stories with Shadowy Figures (COURTESY PHOTO: IDS)

More life entered the IU Art Museum in the Gallery of the Arts of Asia and the Ancient Western World as theater professor and shadow puppet performer, Jennifer Goodlander, enlivened the Indonesian shadow puppets as part of Stories with Shadowy Figures.  Having studied in Indonesia last summer, Goodlander talked with museum visitors about the ancient performance art and about her opportunity to learn the tradition.


Among the new events and exhibitions taking place at the IU Art Museum this year, museum visitors were assured that the annual Art of Chocolate gala would not be forgotten.  This year’s gala celebrated the Art of Chocolate’s 10th year running and its ongoing support for LIFEDesigns, a local nonprofit that serves children and adults with disabilities.  Leslie Abshier, LIFEDesign’s community development officer said it best, “who doesn’t like chocolate?”


Faculty Artists
Faculty Artists From the IU’s Hope School of Fine Arts (COURTESY PHOTO: IDS)

Launching the first of many second semester exhibitions, the Faculty Artists From the IU’s Hope School of Fine Arts opened in the Special Exhibitions and Steward Hexagon Galleries in January.  Having “something for everyone,” as curator Jenny McComas described, this exhibition represented nearly all artistic mediums including sculpture, photography, and graphic design.  This exhibition provided visitors and students the chance to see contemporary works by IU faculty in one space that have been exhibited in a variety of public and private exhibitions.



Exploring the IU Art Museum’s three permanent galleries, museum docent Monica Kindraka-Jensen began eye-ing  in on works through her thematic tour, The Eyes Have It.  Beginning in the third floor gallery, Raymond and Laura Wieglus Gallery of the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas, Jensen explored with visitors the role of eyes in art across diverse cultures.  Various eye shapes and types were discussed such as “coffee bean eyes” and the “curse of the evil eye.”



March marked the celebration of Youth Art Month with the opening reception welcoming approximately 600 student artists, their families, and community members in support of local youth artists from the Monroe County Community School Corporation.  Commemorating the IU Art Museum’s 19th year hosting Youth Art Month in the Thomas T. Solley Atrium, children ages kindergarten to sixth grade were invited to display their water color, pastel, colored pencil, paper cutouts, and other works of art.


More colorful works filled the IU Art Museum’s Special Exhibitions Gallery with the opening of Matisse’s Jazz and Other Works from Indiana University Collections.  Acclaimed as one of the most important modern artists of the 20th century, this exhibition highlights Matisse works from the last 30 years of his life during which he had to re-invent himself as an artist.


In the first floor atrium, students from the Giving Back to Africa Student Association showcased their month-long photographs of Beta Histoire, which opened in early April.   These photos depicted children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their daily lives with the goal of the exhibition aimed at educating IU students about the political, social, and economic issues in the DRC.


Wrapping up the spring semester, more educational experiences took place at the IU Art Museum in conjunction with the Evan F. Lilly Memorial Lecture Competition.  Four IU students selected pieces from the IU Art Museum’s permanent collection, researched, and composed a paper and lecture on their findings.  Objects and ideas explored included male nudes, ancient Roman religion, hermaphrodites, and bilingual eye cups.





Last Week on Display: Top 5 Must-Sees of IU’s Hope School Faculty Artists

The Faculty Artists from IU’s Hope School of Fine Arts will be on display in the Special Exhibitions Gallery and Judi and Milt Steward Hexagon Gallery through March 9.  There is less than one week to get one last look at IU Faculty’s amazing artworks at the Indiana University Art Museum:

Arthur Liou, saga dawa final_00063 low

Jawshing Arthur Liou

Associate Professor, Digital Art

Saga Dawa, 2012

1080p high definition video

(55 minute loop)

Just five minutes short of an hour, this gently enchanting “action picture film” (above) utilizes technical skills in digital imagery to bring to the forefront a topic of global cultural relevance, Saga Dawa (the celebration of the Buddha’s birth on the Tibetan lunar calendar.)


Grant Whipple

Visiting Assistant Professor


Good Morning Commuters!, 2012

Oil and watercolor on panel

Grant Whipple has a unique take on mixed media combining both oil and watercolors onto the same canvas.  Whipple also takes a new perspective on visual orientation.  Looking at the work, the viewer questions at which point to enter the foggy and swirling imagery with semblances of faces, machinery, and forms.  To see this work and others created by Whipple, check out his portfolio: http://www.grantwhipple.com/paintings2011.html


Mike Calway-Fagen

Visiting Assistant Professor Sculpture

Daniel Patrick, 2011

plaster and my brother’s high school trumpet

Mike Calway-Fagen’s work can easily be defined as unique.  This conceptual work, composed of plaster and a high school trumpet, leaves room for interpretation and contemplation as it is the only work within the exhibition that acts as its own pedestal.  To see Calway-Fagen’s installation among his other projects you can visit his online portfolio: http://mikecalway-fagen.com/Daniel-Patrick


Danielle C. Head

Visiting Assistant Professor


Et in Arcadia Ego, 2013

Archival digital print

Danielle C. Head encapsulates a static moment in time that has more than meets the eye.  Like peeling away the layers of an onion, Hood’s digitally crafted narrative intertwines the viewer in deciphering their own time, place, and identity.  To see this digital print and the rest of Head’s portfolio, take a look at her website: http://www.daniellechead.com/


Tim Kennedy

Senior Lecturer, Painting

Poinsettia Mirror, 2011

Oil on canvas

Tim Kennedy shows his mastery in the language of paint through his articulation in thick strokes and specificity in the details.  Approaching this portrait through a voyeur’s lens, the audience finds themselves a part of the scene with the poinsettia mirror and the unaware nude figure.  This work among Kennedy’s other paintings can be found on his online portfolio: http://www.timkennedypaintings.net/appearances01.html



What is Youth Art Month?

Looking at the calendar for March, I came across an interesting and delightful event: Youth Art Month. Not knowing what exactly this was all about—and wishing I had heard about this when I was a child— I went ahead and sought out more information about it.


The month of March is dedicated to highlighting the importance of art education and the support of art in schools. It was established in 1961 and promotes “self-esteem, appreciation of the work of others, self-expression, cooperation with others, and critical thinking skills,” according to the Council for Art Education, Inc. (p. 1).

In Bloomington, Youth Art Month has been celebrated since 1973 and involves a partnership between the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC), the IU Art Museum, and the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. Kindergarten through sixth grade students will display their artwork in the museum’s Thomas T. Solley Atrium, from March 1–31.

YAM 2013

Cheryl Maxwell, an art teacher with the MCCSC, provided more background about this month-long observation of youth art in the community. Originally, the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center exhibited all K–12 artworks, but the event became so popular that they needed two shows to accommodate all the students and families. Today, the Waldron focuses on displaying local junior high and high school students’ works.

In 1995, Ed Maxedon, the Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Education, and Cheryl Maxwell developed an elementary show for the IU Art Museum. In the beginning the only space they had to install an exhibition was the hallway on the mezzanine level, the former “Children’s Corner.” They were able to present thirty pieces of student work. The exhibit  received rave reviews from parents and teachers and soon the show grew to include 110 to 120 works from Monroe County schools from grades K–6.

Maxwell also mentioned how MCCSC art teachers are continuously searching for ways to demonstrate the “rich and diverse art” produced by the students. They feel it is important to participate in Youth Art Month as it celebrates young artists. The MCCSC teachers are proud of the partnership with the IU Art Museum. In addition, students also benefit from strong arts programs in all Monroe County schools as well as from art classes at both the Ivy Tech Waldron and IU School of Education.

Cheryl ended our conversation with this statement:

The Youth Art Month show is our chance to demonstrate an advanced art education program taught in the elementary schools. Elementary art teachers meet twice a month in a Professional Learning Community meeting to discuss goals and keep our students current with state standards and best practices. Several [of these] teachers are professional artists as well as teachers.  You know you are doing well as educators when you consistently hear parents say each year, “Wow! I didn’t learn things like that until high school.”

On Saturday, March 1, from noon to 1:30 p.m., the IU Art Museum will host a family celebration featuring art-making activities, drawings for prizes, and recognition of the student artists and their teachers. There will also be 7 fifteen-minute tours tailored for each elementary grade level.

With arts education being diminished around the nation, Youth Art Month is a great way to promote the arts and their importance to society and child development.



“What is Youth Art Month?” The Council for Art Education, Inc.  2014. Web. Feb 6 2014 <https://www.arteducators.org/news/Whats_YAM.pdf>.


Hope Faculty Artists Celebrate Opening at Indiana University Art Museum

January 25 through March 9, 2014

 The Indiana University Art Museum presents 38 artists in a special exhibition titled “Faculty Artists from IU’s Hope School of Fine Arts 2014.”  Their work is on view in the Special Exhibitions Gallery and the Judi and Milt Stewart Hexagon Gallery this winter.

The Opening celebration held on January 24, 2014 welcomed the artists to celebrate their successful careers as exhibiting artists and as professors at Indiana University with their friends, families, and museum guests.  On display through March 9, 2014, this exhibition presents a diversity of subject matter and materials in both traditional and new media disciplines.

Faculty Show

Despite the freezing temperature, students, colleagues, and local Bloomington art-goers came to show their support, filling both the atrium and gallery spaces.  Catered appetizers by Feast complimented the eventful evening as guests circulated in and out of the gallery, discussing the works amongst their peers.

Do not miss the opportunity to see what the Hope School of Fine Arts’ professors have been up to outside of the classroom walls.  This special exhibition will be on view at the IU Art Museum through the first week of March.



The Progressive and Regressive America: Exploring “Rosie the Riveter”

200.XX.10.8Alfred T. Palmer
American, 1906-1993
Fingers of Destruction, ca. 1942–43
Gelatin silver print
Henry Holmes Smith Archive 

“Rosie the Riveter” is an illustration that many people may recognize. It is the face of a strong and determined fictional young woman during World War II. The image, often displayed in the form of a poster or other portrait, portrays the young woman with a distinct red bandana and with her flexed arm muscles ready for combat. Often times, this image is paired with the phrase “We can do it,” which was aimed to encourage women to earn and care for families as the men were away at war. This was a precursor for the role reversals that women tackled during World War II.

The black and white photo installation, curated by Nan Brewer and a museum intern from the Department of Communication and Culture Maura Campbell-Balkits and on view in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World, shows real life examples of “Rosie.” Including photographs by Howard Liberman, Andreas Feininger, David Bransby, and Alfred T. Palmer, the group of six photographs shows white women and women of color working in industrial settings, creating parachutes, working with armaments, and putting together bombs.

Originally part of a larger selection of photographs that included men working as well, these photos were taken as propaganda for the Office of War Information. The point of the photographs was to mobilize citizens to participate in war efforts and to display national strength to the rest of the world. Brewer and Campbell-Balkits found it to be essential to showcase the unique range of inclusion in the 1940s. This series is particularly notable as the jobs that these women and minorities were undertaking in the photographs were jobs that were usually reserved for white men at this time. However, with the men at war, white and minority women were the ones left to support families and to help supply the military.

Manoower: Negro navy yard worker. 
In a sea of silk, this woman worker is making parachutes for 
America’s paratroopers. She is one of many Negroe employees 
in the aircraft factory of an Eastern navy yard. May 1942
Gelatin silver print
Henry Holmes Smith Archive

After speaking with Brewer and Campbell-Balkits, it is clear that this new era was progressive for the United States. The photographs  in this series were utilized to make America appear modern and powerful, with all hands on deck for the war. According to Brewer, this was potentially a factor in the forward movement of the civil and women’s rights movements and was one of the first times in history that photographs of people of color were circulated in news publications.

However, as progressive as the photographs appear to be, there are always aspects of the truth that remain regressive. Campbell-Balkits said that the photographs do not show the hardships of these groups, only the positives. For example, Brewer said that although women and minorities were doing the same types of factory jobs that white men had done prior to the war, there was still a wage gap that was unequal to what white men had been paid. Additionally, there was the issue of the post-war effect. According to Brewer, the end of the war meant white men returned to their jobs in the factories, leaving women and minorities without these positions once more.

These photographs say more than what women and minorities were doing during World War II; this series also highlights the effects of the war. After developing more capabilities to work for themselves throughout the war, women and minorities strove to further that ability both legally and socially. Indeed, once women and minorities had the knowledge that “they can do it,” the empowering image of “Rosie” and the phrase “We can do it” became a progressive way to think for those who had been told otherwise.





A Tribute to William Zimmerman

William Zimmerman, a nationally recognized wildlife artist and Brown County resident, passed away last fall. In honor of his artistry and passion for ornithology, the IU Art Museum has a selection of five original paintings from his book Life Histories of North American Woodpeckers (1992) on display in the first-floor Art of the Western World gallery. These beautiful pieces show Zimmerman’s meticulous nature and dedication to truth when capturing these stunning birds, along with local flora.

If this small selection inspires you when you visit, hop on over to the Jordan Hall atrium where you can see another 100 Zimmerman paintings from his The Birds of Indiana series.

William Zimmerman
American, b. 1937
Hairy “Harris’s” Woodpecker
(Picoides villosus), 1991
Original artwork for plate 17 in Arthur Cleveland Bent’s Life Histories of
North American Woodpeckers
Acrylic on grey paper
Gift of Elaine Ewing Fess and
Stephen W. Fess, 93.22.17

You might also recognize Zimmerman’s work from the labels on local Olivery Winery’s wine bottles. Zimmerman worked with Oliver to produce their labels for many years, depicting a blue heron, hawks, and other birds, butterflies, grapes, bees, and even a fox to represent Oliver’s various wine flavors. As he was quoted at Hidden River Art, “I can always go get some wine and give it as a gift. I get a double whammy with it!”

I found a video posted by WTIU last December, no doubt in remembrance of Zimmerman shortly after his passing. I thought it best, perhaps, to let the artist himself share a little bit more about his art with you.

Follow the link to watch: William Zimmerman

Zimmerman’s five woodpecker paintings will be on display at the IU Art Museum until September 9th, 2012.



A Visit to the Museum

I came to college to study economics, but mentioned to an advisor at orientation that one of my hobbies was photography. My orientation advistor convinced me to live in the Fine Arts Living Learning Community. I took an Art History class and a drawing class with the girls on my floor, and that fall I fell in love with art and photography. I dropped my Economics major, and picked up Arts Management. My parents were skeptical about my choice, thinking it was impulsive and impractical.

Earlier this year I sat down with my mom and told her all about the different interesting jobs that I could do for a museum. She came to visit this past week, and I took her on a tour of the museum. She was amazed at the size of our collection and the interesting facts I’ve learned about many of the pieces. She saw my passion for this subject matter and really enjoyed my tour of the museum. I have always felt that my mother and I have very similar tastes, but found it really interesting to learn she had very different tastes in art.

Portrait Bust of an Emperor Septimius Severus
ca. AD 201-211
IU Art Museum 75.33.1

I began to notice the differences very quickly. I could spend hours in the Gallery of Art of the Western World, but she preferred the Arts of Asia and the Ancient Western World gallery. She focused her attention on works that were incredibly detailed and ornate, like the golden Necklace with Eros within a Herakles-Knot Clasp and the Portrait Bust of an Emperor Septimius Severus. She loved the realistic detail of the hair in the bust, praising the technical skill in making a slab of marble look so realistically like a human. I prefer works a little more abstract like Stuart Davis’ Swing Landscape and sculptures like Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s Bust of a Woman, where the figure is simplified to a more pure, implied form.

Wilhelm Lehmbruck
Bust of a Woman
ca. 1913-14
Cast stone
IU Art Museum 81.31.29

Despite our differences in taste, we both could appreciate Balthus’ The Window. I explained that it is believed to be a parody of a German Romantic motif featuring women meditating at windows. She loved learning that the expression captured on the subject’s face was real because Balthus threw himself at the model to provoke this reaction.

The Window
Oil on Canvas
IU Art Museum 70.62

My mother is not as passionate about art as I am. She never showed any particular interest in the subject, so I generally stuck to other conversation topics. Walking her around the museum, I learned I was wrong. She loved hearing me talk about something I am so interested in and really made an effort to connect with me. The great part about art is that it can provoke basic human emotions that make it easy to connect with others, even if you have no no previous interest in the subject.

For my mom and me, it was a great bonding experience. Although we rarely felt the same way about a piece, the conversations helped me connect with my mom in a way we were never able to before.

S. A.


Total Eclipse of the ART

Image via.

According to National Geographic, on May 20th, an annular solar eclipse occurred in the skies of Asia and the US West. An annular solar eclipse is like a total eclipse in that the moon passes between the sun and Earth. Unlike a total eclipse, the diameter of the moon is smaller than that of the visible sun, creating a “ring of fire” around the edges of the eclipse. “Annular” refers to this “annulus,” or ring-like figure.

Rockwell Kent (American, 1882–1971).
Twilight of Man, 1926.
Wood engraving on paper.

One of our new installations, Rockwell Kent’s wood engraving on paper Twilight of Man, 1926, is based on a 1922 watercolor depicting an eclipse.  In ancient times, eclipses were attributed to supernatural phenomena, leading people to believe they were bad omens. Though the composition in our collection is reinterpreted here as a nightfall, the symbolism is not lessened, but strengthened, as the sun has “set” on man and civilization. Apocalyptic symbols such as the temple ruins, desolate landscape, and fallen figure in this engraving allude to this.

Much of Kent’s work had strong symbolic connotations. A solitary human figure, for example, may represent deep metaphysical concepts, such as man’s place within the universe. As Kent said,
“I believe in Man as the supreme consciousness; and in the arts as the supreme expression of his spirit.”

This print will be on view in the first floor Gallery of the Art of the Western World through June.

 Image via.

If you missed the annular eclipse, fear not! June 5th and 6th has an even more unusual eclipse taking place as the planet Venus will pass between the Earth and the sun. Observers in North America will be able to view the eclipse at sunset on June 5th. During this event, Venus will travel as a small, dark dot across the solar disk. This will be the LAST transit of Venus of this century, the next one projected for December 11, 2117…so let’s not miss it!



Kabuki Night in the Galleries

 The IU Art Museum’s education department and the IU Asian Culture Center presented Kabuki Night in the Galleries on April 18, in the Gallery of the Art of Asia and the Ancient Western World.


Museum graduate assistant Lesley Ham, curator of the Legends of Kabuki installation, discussed the stories behind the Japanese woodblock prints with IU graduate student and Japanese traditional performing artist Monica Ham.


After the performance, Lesley and Monica answered the audience’s questions and lead a group discussion.  Many audience members had experience with Kabuki, while others were learning about the Japanese dance-drama for the first time.


Audience members viewed the Japanese woodblock print installation Legends of Kabuki in the second floor gallery after the discussion.


IU Art Museum staff and audience members enjoyed traditional Japanese food and drinks on the second floor of the Thomas T. Solley Atrium to conclude the event.

If you missed this event, be sure to attend Looking for Art in Contemporary China on Saturday, April 21, 2:00-3:00 pm, in Fine Arts 102.  Professor Xiaobing Tang, Professor of Comparative Literature and Helmut F. Stern Professor of Modern Chinese Studies, University of Michigan will present a lecture about the different dimensions of art in China. A light reception will follow in the Thomas T. Solley Atrium.


Mobilizing Poetry in Protest Songs of the Arab World

Songs like “This Land is Your Land” pop into my head when I hear someone talking about protest songs. If you don’t like Woody Guthrie, then perhaps you think of hippies sitting in a park singing “Give Peace a Chance.” Regardless of musical preference, we all feel these songs carry universal messages surrounding the idea that people can come together and change the world. Throughout history and around the world, we can see how visual art and music disseminate ideas and act as a catalyst for social change. Some of the messages conveyed in past paintings or songs still remain relevant to today.

On Tuesday, April 17, from 7­–9 p.m., the museum is hosting an event to showcase poetry and songs that have helped unify and mobilize cultural revolutions in the Middle East. Put into the context of the “Arab Spring,” it is interesting to consider that many of these mobilizing songs have been around for centuries. During the event, Dr. David McDonald and the Salaam Musical Ensemble will explore the many ways in which Arab poetry has been set to music in the service of popular protest, and our 2nd floor gallery will be open for a self-guided tour.

Knowing very little about Middle Eastern music and poetry, I decided to call Dena El Saffar, who plays in the band Salaam that will be performing at the event on Tuesday evening. El Saffar says her band normally plays love songs, but she knew of several songs in Salaam’s repertoire that aligned with the event, including music from several Egyptian composers whose songs were sang by protestors in Tahrir Square.

I’m no expert on Middle Eastern music, but I have done a little “research” via YouTube and found that a lot of current protest songs were in the form of rap songs. Deeb “Mashrah Deeb” is one of my favorites. In the short time I have been “researching”, I’ve found several videos that suddenly disappear, and it makes me consider how lucky Americans are to be able to speak their mind, be it in the form of speech, protest, or in the form of song.

Ann Fields, Guest Contributor
Event Support Coordinator



Here is a courtesy photo of The Vallures from tall + small photography.

It’s finally time for the Art on Tap event. The Vallures will play from 6 to 7 p.m. and again from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14 at the outdoor Sculpture Terrace. The Vallures member Jes Franco shared with us her excitement about the event and how The Vallures feel fortunate to live in a community that values art and music.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: How did you get involved with the event? And why did you want to get involved?

JES FRANCO: We were asked by the events coordinator Anita DeCastro to be a part of the first ever fundraiser for the IU Arts Museum. And we love supporting the art and music community in any way we can. Playing benefits are great because you know you are contributing to something larger than yourself. And it’s being held in the museum’s beautiful outdoor Sculpture Terrace so we jumped at the opportunity to play in such a unique venue for such a great cause.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Can you describe your style of music to people who have never heard you perform?

FRANCO: The Vallures play a lot of classic soul and motown as well as popular girl group, rock, and obscure songs from the sixties. Our current catalog includes everything from Otis Redding,  to Irma Thomas, with some Ronettes, Smith, and Martha & the Vandellas in between.  We are working on writing our own “nu-soul” originals that have the classic sound of an oldie that no one remembers. But we’re more than just a sixties cover band, we’re an experience. We are five ladies and one bearded lady who dress the part too. The Vallures do the whole “coordinated dresses and big hair” thing that was a signature look for a lot of girl groups from that time. So, in a way it’s a little bit of theater too.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: How long have you been performing together? Has it always been in Bloomington? Does this community mean something special to you all?

FRANCO: The Vallures were formed just over two years ago right here in Bloomington,IN. And although we’ve had many lineup changes over the short time we’ve been a band we’ve created some lasting friendships. We’ve had the pleasure of playing all over the Midwest together with hopes of taking our show to more audiences in far away lands. But home is never far from our minds when out on the road, we just can’t wait to get back. The Bloomington community has been essential to our very existence as a band in more ways than one. Where else can you find a concentrated variety of talented musicians? Where else can you go see a different show every night of the week thanks to our outstanding local venues? And most recently after having all of our equipment stolen in Chicago the Bloomington community stepped up and helped us raise funds to help replace it. Local musicians and businesses loaned us equipment in the meantime and the folks at “The Switchyard” gave us their space and equipment so that we could continue to practice twice a week. So, in short we feel very fortunate to be a part of a community that values art and music and has an active role in it’s preservation.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What can people expect from you on the night of Art on Tap?

FRANCO: You can expect an amazing high energy live show with loads of singing, dancing, and hand claps coming from the audience…as well as The Vallures too!

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What are you looking forward to most?

FRANCO: Personally I’m looking forward to giving back to the community with our music. I want to be looking out over the terrace and see people smile and dance to our music, sip local beer, enjoy some delicious pork belly and watch fire spin into the night.

For more information on Art on Tap, view our previous post.

Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine

Perle Fine
American, 1905–1988
In Staccato, 1939–41
Oil on canvas
IU Art Museum 79.73
© Perle Fine

This spring, the IU Art Museum is proud to host Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine, a traveling retrospective on the lesser-known 20th century female abstract artist. This exhibition opened to the public in March, coinciding with National Women’s History Month—an opportune time to rediscover the vibrant and sophisticated work of Perle Fine, especially given that the theme for Women’s History Month 2012 was “Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment.”

Perle Fine (1905–1988), one of only a few women in the inner circle of Abstract Expressionist artists, was mentored by abstract painter Hans Hofmann (1880–1966), who taught at New York’s Art Students League after leaving his native Germany in 1932. Hofmann strongly influenced American artists to experiment with abstraction, including the group that founded the American Abstract Artists in 1936. Through her involvement with this organization, Fine also met the great Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose austere geometric grids are echoed in many of her works. Fine later served as a teacher and mentor herself, employed as a faculty member in the fine arts department of Hofstra University from 1962 to 1973.

This retrospective gives a unique look at an artist’s career: the pieces trace 40 years of Fine’s work (1930–1970), as well as the evolution of her style through paintings, drawings, collages, wood assemblages, and prints. Photographs of Fine and her artist friends, taken by Fine’s husband, photographer Maurice Berezov, complement this exhibition.

To further supplement this retrospective, an abstract painting by Charmion von Wiegand, one of Fine’s female contemporaries, will be on display in the first floor Art of the Western World gallery until June 3rd, 2012. Also, there will be an educators’ workshop titled “What is Ab Ex?” on April 20th from 1:00–3:00 p.m. in the museum’s third floor conference room, in which curators, conservators, and educators will explore Abstract Expressionism.

Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine will be on display in the first floor Special Exhibitions gallery and the Judi and Milt Stewart Hexagon Gallery through May 27, 2012. The exhibition catalogue and the artist monograph are available at Angles Café & Gift Shop.



The IU Art Museum has invited students, falculty and the community to stretch their minds and bodies with a new weekly yoga program beginning from 11 a.m. to noon this Saturday, April 7, in the Thomas T. Solley Atrium on the second floor. Classes are free.

Beginner classes take place on the first and third Saturdays of every month, while experienced yoga participants should attend classes on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month through October 27, 2012.

You must bring your own mat and dress in appropriate yoga attire. This Saturday’s class will be led by an instructor from the Lynda Mitchell Yoga Studio.


Q&A with IU Art Museum Conservator of Paintings

Margarat Contompasis has been the IU Art Museum Conservator of Paintings for 18 years. She shares with us a typical day on the job, her favorite spot on campus, and the chemistry behind her work.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What led to your current position at IU?

MARGARET CONTOMPASIS: I was at the end of a 2 year Mellon fellowship working with the Menil Collection in Houston. I came across the job listing in the AIC (American Institute for Conservation)newsletter while I was on a courier trip in Europe returning art work that on loan for a large Magritte exhibition. While I was interested in the position the deadline had passed. In spite of the deadline I decided to take my chances and make a phone call. After a short conversation, I was offered an interview.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What do you love most about working here?

CONTOMPASIS: I appreciate all of the support—support from the museum and from the university— especially since as a conservator, in the best interest of the art work, I may recommend against a proposal or project that may have a negative impact on art. I also love the fact that I get to work with people from across the university. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without the cooperation of crews from the physical plant and campus divisions. They have never let me down.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Describe a typical day on the job.

CONTOMPASIS: There’s never a typical day on the job. I wear a lot of different hats. There are always ongoing projects, sometimes large-scale projects such as the Benton murals or the Calder. In addition to treatment I do a lot of research on historic artist materials, artist’s techniques, art history, and chemical analysis, and I publish. It’s hard to get bored.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What has your position enabled you to do in terms of travel?

CONTOMPASIS: I sometimes travel with art from the IU Art Museum when it goes “on loan” to other institutions.  Recently, I have done a bit of traveling to other museums to view Braque paintings from a particular series The Rosenberg Quartet. One painting from that series is in the collection of the IU Art Museum. Because it is scheduled to be reunited with the other paintings from the series, we are considering a major treatment of our painting. My goal was to examine the other three paintings because they remain untreated. By viewing the three untreated paintings, seeing and understanding the physical characteristics of the original paint layers, helps us make an informed decision about whether or not to treat our part of the Quartet 

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What’s your favorite spot on campus and why?

CONTOMPASIS: I’ve been to many places on campus most people don’t get to see. My favorite indoor spot is the attic over the auditorium; one can run across some interesting artifacts, postmodern urban archaeology.  My favorite outdoor spot on campus would be Dunn Woods. It’s a great place to both clear your head and clear your lungs of the chemicals involved with conservation.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What is one aspect of your job that most people might not know or expect?

M: Generally people do not think about all of the chemistry that conservators have to study. It’s fundamental to what we do. We have to understand the materials an artifact is made from, the agents of change, the rate at which materials react and the chemistry of those reactions and ultimately the chemistry to stop or slow the agents of change.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: What’s your favorite work of art at the museum?

CONTOMPASIS: Swing Landscape, La fenetre and the small Tarbell portrait of a woman. Swing Landscape is complicated because the artist treated it previously. So we have to decide — is its ethical if the painting is restored or changed? Is it sacred from artist’s hand, or can we do it again? Is it a part of history or do we decide it’s better for the painting if we restore it? I did very little removal of his restoration. His work is still there.

Stuart Davis (American, 1892–1964). Swing Landscape, 1938. Oil on canvas. IU Art Museum, 42.1
Art © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Balthus (French, 1908–2001). The Window, 1933. Oil on canvas. IU Art Museum, 70.62
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
Edmund C. Tarbell (American, 1862–1938). A Girl Mending, * 1905. Oil on canvas. Morton and Marie Bradley Memorial Collection, 75.122


Do you love beer? And art? Well it’s about time you mesh the two. Students and members of the community are invited to join the IU Art Museum in celebrating the mash-up of local microbreweries and a collection of beer-themed artwork. The museum’s first-ever fundraiser, Art on Tap, will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 in the museum’s outdoor Sculpture Terrace.

The event will offer guests the opportunity to sample local craft beers while also enjoying live music and entertainment by the sixties cover band The Vallures and the Kali Ma Fire Troupe. Beer will be provided by Bloomington Brewing Company, Cutters Brewing Company, and Upland Brewing Company. Oliver Winery will provide samples of their hard cider, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available as well. Food pairings will also be provided by One World Catering and Happy Pig Street Food. Have you tasted their mac n’ cheese? Well if not, it’s about time!

Tickets to the event cost $35 and can be purchased at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater Box Office, IU Art Museum, Lennie’s Bloomington Brewing Company, and Upland Brewery/Restaurant. They are also available online at www.BCTBoxOffice.com.

And students, if you’re really feeling in the spirit, you can ever join the Art on Tap Street Team and volunteer! You must be 21 or older in order to volunteer. You’ll be responsible for helping to promote the event by hanging posters, handing out flyers and chalking. If you’re interested, contact Ann Fields, ankafiel@indiana.edu.

Hope to see you all there!



From 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, February 17 in the third floor office, there will be a special one-hour exhibition highlighting  chiaroscuro woodcuts. Artists included are Ugo da Carpi, Antonio da Trento, Andrea Andreani, Hendrik Goltzius, Antonio Maria Zanetti, Nicolas Le Sueur, John Baptist Jackson, and Charles Hazelwood Shannon. No prior registration is needed, but space is limited space. So get there early!