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.