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.



IU students Matt Starr and Taylor Bryant are going to project onto the Sample Gates for the first time ever. If you missed Starr’s video projection in the Grunwald Gallery a couple weeks ago, then make sure you don’t miss his new project projecting onto the Sample Gates at 9 p.m. Thursday April 5. Check out his Vimeo as well to see his previous projection on the Chase building in downtown Bloomington.

A face is projected onto the Sample Gates downtown.
Video projection is used for the first time on the Sample Gates in downtown Bloomington.


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 Riley Manion

Riley Manion is a senior in the American Studies and Anthropology of Food programs at Indiana University.  She will be leading a papercut workshop at the IU Art Museum on Sunday, April 1, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m to help kick off IU Arts Week Everywhere.  Participants in the papercut workshop will be able to create their own artwork to take home and share with family and friends.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: When and how did you discover the art of papercutting?

MANION: I have always been attracted to high contrast black and white images. In the early 2000s, as film processing became more expensive and less common I strayed from photography a bit and started experimenting with other art forms. I loved old silhouette portraits and old political posters that were woodcuts or lithographs, and especially the art of Nikki McClure. Her papercuts were stunning to me and inspired me to really study them to figure out how they worked, then try to make my own.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Where do you typically do your work?

MANION: At home on a big table. Papercutting isn’t a travel-friendly art, unless a large sturdy surface is where you are going. It also produces a shower of tiny pieces of paper, which isn’t the best thing to leave behind in a coffee shop.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Who and what inspires you when creating papercuts?

MANION: My inspiration tends to be seasonal. For five years, I have made a Halloween papercut inspired by vintage Halloween styles. I am most motivated to create a papercut for an individual, where the purpose of the gift and the person’s personality will lead to a design just for them. This summer I am going to create a series about food to complement my studies at IU.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: How important is the subject matter to your artwork?

MANION: Very. What I design in papercuts often reflects what I feel is important to think about, and what I find aesthetically pleasing. Oftentimes they are made to create memories, like photographs do so well.

ARTFROMALLANGLES: Is papercutting easy enough for most people to execute?

MANION: Yes. The hardest part is understanding the positive and negative space. As long as you can cut paper with a knife, you are on your way to being a paper cutter!

While at the papercut workshop, be sure to visit the museum’s special installation of papercuts by Professor Qiao Xiaoguang in the second floor Gallery of the Art of Asia and the Ancient Western World.  Docents will be leading tours every 15 minutes from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Check out one of Manion’s favorite papercut creations!


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


Hey students, come on down! The Office of First Year Experiences has added Rob Shakespeare’s Light Totem to their IU Bucket List! (See bullet point #17: “At night, lay on the ground and watch the lights change on the side of the IU Art Museum.”)

Our 70-foot-tall structure has been magnetizing students and visitors since its installation in 2007 to celebrate the Art Museum’s 25th anniversary. Originally only supposed to be up for three months, Totem delighted students, visitors, and passerby’s so much that its “contract” was extended for three years. In 2010, the IU Board of Trustees approved the Light Totem for permanent installation. Shakespeare and his team outfitted Totem for permenance over the summer of 2011.

So before you graduate, bring your friends and come out to the IU Art Museum to enjoy Totem’s light!


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

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,

Hope to see you all there!