Take a New Look at the Permanent Collection Galleries

If you have been to the Museum in the past two weeks, you will have noticed that some of the galleries are closed. That is because, for the first time since 2011, we are reinstalling our permanent collection galleries. Ackland staff have already begun reconfiguring the galleries by tearing down and building walls and researching and writing new interpretive materials for the reopening of the galleries on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

While reinstallations like the one we are undertaking are not uncommon for a museum, our curatorial staff has identified three areas of focus:

Focus One – Art After 1950

While many of our special exhibitions include artworks after 1950, the Museum feels strongly that there should be a dedicated space for these works in the permanent collection galleries. Two works included in the new installation are George Segal’s The Legend of Lot and Nam June Paik’s Eagle Eye. Segal’s piece was shown in the Ackland’s 2008 exhibition Circa 1958, which celebrated the Ackland’s fiftieth anniversary. Featured in the Ackland’s 2015 exhibition Testing, Testing, Paik’s Eagle Eye was inspired by an eye chart in an antique store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus Two – African Art

African art is becoming a major programmatic emphasis at the Museum. This is due in no small part to the strength of the Art History Department and the increasing number of graduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill in this field, as well as some special acquisition opportunities. The reinstallation will offer much more space and prominence to our African art collection.  It will also have a special wall for temporary installations with loans from private collections. The first special installation will display a group of Nigerian Ikenga figures from the distinguished collection of Rhonda Wilkerson, a former UNC professor.

Focus Three – Works on Paper

Of the Museum’s 18,000 works of art, the majority are works on paper. The reinstallation will offer a more flexible space for works on paper. Currently, the Museum features a rotating series of installations titled Focus on the Peck Collection, which highlights works from the 2017-Peck gift along with other works in the permanent collection.  The reinstallation will also allow the Museum to include rotating installations of prints, drawings, and photographs for European and American art from about 1900 to the present.  Not only is this an opportunity to display work of art that have not been on view frequently; it is also an opportunity to highlight our conservation efforts. An example of this can be seen in Charles-François Daubigny’s Pond at Corbigny (L’Etang de Corbigny). Look closely at the differences in the colors and richness of details in the below images.

 

 

 

 

Our hope in reinstalling the permanent collection galleries is that you will reexamine old gems in new contexts, reimagine our collection strengths, and discover new favorites that encourage you to look close and think far.

Image credits

Art after 1950
George Segal, American, 1924 – 2000: The Legend of Lot, 1958; plaster, wood, burlap, chicken wire and oil on canvas. Other (figure): (182.9 cm). Other (canvas): 182.9 x 243.8 cm, installation: 188 x 243.8 x 167.6 cm. The William A. Whitaker Foundation Art Fund and Gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation, Inc. 2009.1
Nam June Paik, South Korean, active in the United States, 1932-20: Eagle Eye, 1996; antique slide projector, aluminum, computer keyboards, eye chart, neon, 9 five-inch televisions, 2 nine-inch televisions, dvd player, dvd, 169.4 x 219.4 x 62.2 cm. Ackland Fund, 99.8

African art
Unidentified artist, South Africa, Zulu culture: Purse, 19th century; beads and reeds. Ackland Fund and Gift of Norma Canelas Roth and William Roth, 2017.19.62017.19.14

Works on paper
Jean Restout, French, 1692-1768: Christ at the Pool of Bethesda, c. 1725; oil on canvas, 99.7 x 122.2 cm. Ackland Fund, 87.31.36
Charles-François Daubigny, French, 1817-1878: Pond at Corbigny (L’Etang de Corbigny), n.d.; Oil on canvas, Canvas: 31.1 X 74.6 cm, Frame: 47 x 90.2 cm. Bequest of Charles and Isabel Eaton, 2009.31.36

Reintroducing Ackland Upstairs

By Elizabeth Manekin, Head of University Programs & Academic Projects, Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Upstairs is a space where the University community and broader public can come together and ask questions about art. Formerly called the Study Gallery, Ackland Upstairs displays works of art that directly engage with learning objectives of courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Students and faculty from diverse disciplines investigate research questions using the works on view here, whether in class sessions held in the gallery or through individual study. In each of the gallery’s six sections, there is brief information about the course and its approach to the art on view. There is also a question posed for the students’—and your – consideration.

While the function of the space has not changed for the courses that shape its content, the change in title reflects a deeper shift in how we hope to engage the public. The questions that frame the University class visits are amplified on the walls of each installation for all to see. From “What is a line and what does it do?” to “In what ways can art be both modern and traditional?” these questions prompt us to consider what art is, what it does, and how it fits in to our experience and understanding of the world. Big questions.

I am particularly excited about this shift, and look forward to experimenting with different approaches in Ackland Upstairs. University museums are uniquely poised to have dynamic and interdisciplinary conversations about art. We do that in our teaching all the time and public programs, which are ephemeral; if you aren’t present for the discussion you miss it entirely. How do we engage members of the public in these discussions through our physical display?

Ackland Upstairs can be a laboratory to think through those ideas with students, faculty, and members of the community. Right now, that means there are questions on the walls. Next semester, it might mean something different. It rotates every eight weeks, so there is always something new to see and think about. The next round of installations goes on view October 17th. Come and see what’s Upstairs!

RedBall Chapel Hill

RedBall Project Chapel Hill

The RedBall Project is a traveling public art work by Asheville-based artist Kurt Perschke. Considered “the world’s longest-running street art work,” the piece features a 250-pound, 15-foot-diameter inflatable red ball that is installed in both unlikely and familiar sites within a city. A blend of architectural intervention and community engagement, the piece has been to over 25 cities around the world, including Abu Dhabi, Taipei, Perth, London, Barcelona, St. Louis, Portland, Sydney, Scottsdale, Chicago, and Toronto.

As its gift to town and campus in celebration of its sixtieth anniversary, the Ackland Art Museum is bringing this internationally renowned sculptural installation to Chapel Hill for a week-long performance beginning 20 September 2018. Over seven consecutive days, the giant ball will move through Chapel Hill, changing its location daily and playfully inviting all audiences to reconsider their everyday surroundings with a fresh perspective.

LOCATIONS:

The RedBall will be on view each day from 11 am until 6 pm.

Thursday, 20 September: South Building, UNC Campus

Friday, 21 September: Robert B. House Undergraduate Library, UNC Campus

Saturday, 22 September: Hanes Arch next to Ackland Art Museum, UNC Campus and 101 South Columbia

Sunday, 23 September: Varsity Alley, alongside 121 East Franklin Street

Monday, 24 September: Koury Residence Hall, UNC Campus and 480 Ehringhaus Drive

Tuesday, 25 September: Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive

Wednesday, 26 September: Forest Theatre, UNC Campus and 123 South Boundary Street

Share your adventures with us using #redballproject

Upcoming Programs:

RedBall Artist Talk
Tuesday, 25 September, 4 PM
Chapel Hill Public Library

The Ackland Art Museum’s presentation of RedBall Chapel Hill has been made possible by generous support from the Hyde Family Foundation and Arts Everywhere.

The Ackland Art Museum also thanks UNC-Chapel Hill’s Facilities Services, the Department of Housing & Residential Education, the R.B. House Undergraduate Library, the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s Forest Theatre, the Chapel Hill Public Library, and especially the Town of Chapel Hill and its partners for their enthusiastic support of RedBall Chapel Hill.

Media sponsorship courtesy of

 


Photo courtesy of Tom Martin.

5 Female Finalists from “The Outwin: American Portraiture Today”

By Audrey Shore

The Outwin: American Portraiture Today spans cultures, generations, and backgrounds. It is an incredible forum for artists to present their work, and an amazing opportunity for the public to experience the breadth of portraiture. The Outwin offers a unique glimpse into the minds of artists and provides a space for those artists to articulate their vision, perspective, and process.


I make a lot of changes. I don’t know where I’m going; I don’t have a final image in my head, but rather a broad idea, and a feeling I’m after, a kind of intensity.  I start a painting, waiting for it to look back at me. Then the painting tells me where to go. I usually get into trouble, take a wrong turn at some point and a lot happens, both bad and good, as I struggle out of the mess.

Anne Harris


The choice of camera has a large impact on both the process of making the photograph and on the final look of the image, which shapes the meaning of the work. The camera demands focused attention from both myself and from the sitter.

Claire Beckett


I use color and pattern in my paintings to evoke emotion, to tell stories of daily life, and to draw the viewer into an intimate world.

Lucy Fradkin


I am fascinated in how my young daughter is a blend of emerging maturity combined with lingering desire to still be a playful, child.

–  Thu Nguyen


These haints represent an underbelly of collective familial memory, what is lost, unspoken, and mythologized through hyperbolic tales often used to mask painful realities.  Each spirit struggles to find their way in the contemporary southern landscape, calibrating the desire to assimilate into a human form against a parallel continuum of past and future.  It is in this in-between space that fantasy and reality collapse, and it becomes increasingly unclear where the tangible begins and ends.

Allison Janae Hamilton


Anne Harris, 2013, Invisible (Yellow), oil on linen, Alexandre Gallery, New York City © Anne Harris
Claire Beckett, 2013, April and her daughter Sarah, inkjet print, collection of the artist, courtesy of Carroll and Sons Art Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts © Claire Beckett
Lucy Fradkin, 2014, Arthur Dreams of India, acrylic gouache, collage, pencil, and metallic thread on paper, collection of the artist © Lucy Fradkin
Thu Nguyen, 2014, The Valentine Dress, oil on panel, collection of the artist © Thu Nguyen
Allison Janae Hamilton, 2014, Haints at Swamp II, c-print, collection of the artist © Allison Janae Hamilton

Birthday Presents

The Ackland Art Museum turned 60 this September. Birthday Presents displays an extraordinary range of works of art given to the Ackland by generous donors explicitly in honor of the Museum’s 60th anniversary.

Featuring roughly sixty works of art from thirty different donors, including thirteen UNC-Chapel Hill alums, the exhibition is truly a celebration of the Ackland’s milestone anniversary. With selections of African and Asian art; European and American prints, drawings, and photographs; and modern and contemporary art, the exhibition is a microcosm of the Museum’s collection of over 18,000 works, both in its current form and in the Ackland’s aspirations for its collection’s future. These carefully solicited donations offer both depth to existing areas of the collection, like old master prints by Rembrandt, in addition to an increased breadth of collecting areas, like new media and vernacular art. Long after Birthday Presents closes, these new gifts will add exciting opportunities for teaching and display within the permanent collection.

A key focus of the exhibition is European and American Art since 1950, including a group of American prints from the 1960s by Jasper Johns, Sam Francis, Adolf Gottlieb, Lee Krasner, and Corita Kent, as well as major paintings and sculpture by Howard Hodgkin, Willem de Kooning, Friedel Dzubas, Alex Katz, and Manuel Neri. Also included is new media art by Paul Pfeiffer, Leo Villareal, and former UNC-Chapel Hill faculty Jeff Whetstone. Works by UNC-Chapel Hill alum Frank Faulkner and Durham-born Beverly McIver are also on view. In addition to contemporary works, the exhibition features nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American art by artists not yet represented in the collection.

Birthday Presents also prominently features pieces that complement the Museum’s prestigious collection of African and Asian Art. From West African masks and South African beadwork, to Cambodian and Chinese sculpture, Chinese ceramics, and Himalayan costume, Birthday Presents is a celebration of human creativity across time and space.

Image credit:

Jeff Whetstone, American, born 1968: The Batture Ritual (still), 2017; video (25 minutes, 16 seconds) with sound. Ackland Art Museum, Gift of Kate Nevin and the Caldwell Family Fund in honor of the Museum’s 60th Anniversary, 2018.37. Image by courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery. © Jeff Whetstone

Painting with Dust

By: Franny Brock, Ackland Graduate Intern 2017-18, Ackland Art Museum

Léon-Pascal de Glain, French, 1715-1775, Young Woman in a Blue Dress with Muff, 1745

As a specialist of eighteenth-century French art, my job has been particularly exciting and rewarding this semester because of the Ackland’s new exhibition, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from the Horvitz Collection. This installation epitomizes so many of my research interests, including the work of women artists, collectors and collecting, drawing techniques, amateurism, and display of works on paper. Some of my favorite pieces in the exhibition—the ones that I keep returning to over and over again—are the pastel portraits. The velvety texture and rich colors of these works drew me in immediately, but their contradictory classification and contested status in the eighteenth century keeps me coming back for more.

From a curatorial perspective, chalk pastel is fascinating because it occupies a place somewhere between painting and drawing. In the eighteenth century, pastels were considered a form of painting, comparable to oil. In 1701, Joseph Vivien (1657–1734) was the first artist accepted to the French Académie as a “painter in pastel.” The vibrant colors, high degree of finish, and size of pastels make them similar to paintings. However, works in pastel are done on paper and are extremely fragile. Like drawings, pastels are light sensitive and need to be stored in the dark most of the time (which makes it even more thrilling that we have eight on view at the Ackland right now). Anyone who has worked with chalk pastels knows that keeping the medium adhered to the paper is also a problem. Pastel is crumbly and dusty; it wants to lift off its support, especially when moved or jostled. Many strategies for fixing pastel to paper were invented in the eighteenth century.

Chalk pastel is made of powdered pigment and a binder, such as gum arabic, then formed into sticks. These pastel sticks can be applied directly to paper as a dry medium or mixed with water and applied with a brush. Pastel became popular in eighteenth-century France, especially for portraiture, because of its ability to mimic the tones and texture of skin, hair, and clothing. Gault de Saint-Germain’s Portrait of a Boy demonstrates how different colors of pastel were blended or “stumped” (sometimes also called “sweetened”) to create the luminous skin of the young man’s face. The powdery surface of this work reflects diffuse light off the facets of tiny particles of pigment, creating a sense of white light and a velvety texture.

Anna Gault De Saint-Germain, Polish, c. 1760-1832, Portrait of a Boy, 1788

Although both men and women artists used pastel, the medium came to be considered “feminine” because it relied on surface attributes such as color and shading, rather than the more masculine-associated line and structure, to define subject matter. Social critics also linked pastel to women’s cosmetics because of its physical similarity to powered rouge. While there was wide popular appeal for pastels in eighteenth-century France, this comparison emphasized the perceived artificiality and delicacy of the medium in the minds of its critics.

The pastel works in Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment show a range of techniques, including blending and the use of mixed media, and because they were never varnished, these pieces have retained their original brilliance. I encourage you to take the opportunity to view these pastels before they return to the dark to rest.

 

Versus: Selected Works by the MFA Class of 2018

Responding to the prompt of “versus,” graduating Masters of Fine Arts students at UNC-Chapel Hill provide works that explore combative tensions.

Some employ content to examine ideological struggles, such as the battles of nostalgia against the actualities of the past, or of idealistic hopes against the stark truths of reality. For others, tensions lie in their very processes, such as investigating the effects of combining varied approaches to mark-making or of contrasting discordant materials.

Artists included in Versus are Britta Anderson, Allison Coleman, Kimberly English, Sara Farrington, Joel Hopler, Lindsay Metivier, Jeanine Tatlock, and Carley Zarzeka.

Versus is curated by Lauren Turner, Assistant Curator for the Collection, Ackland Art Museum.

This exhibition of work by the 2018 Master of Fine Arts candidates at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is made possible by the ongoing dedication and support of the Ackland Art Museum’s members and annual fund donors.

Versus Opening Celebration: Thursday, 19 April, 5-8 PM. Join us!

Learn about our exciting Versus events and programs!

Allison Coleman, American, born 1977: Pine-Sol, 2017, oil on panel, 24 x 48 inches. Collection of the artist.

The Outwin: American Portraiture Today

We live in a culture that is shaped by social media. We play with identity through technology, which both connects us and isolates us. It is no wonder the genre of portraiture is experiencing renewed significance and thriving in the contemporary art world. As a genre, portraiture is akin to the raw, direct nature of a journal entry, often revealing aspects of the sitter’s identity that are messy or complicated or even artfully concealing the truth. It is the most personal—and certainly the most psychological—of art forms. As a viewer, we step into the relationship between the artist and the subject. Whether an artist is creating a visual autobiography, delving deeper into a relationship, or getting to know someone, the resulting portrait shows us a private world.

Every three years, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery invites artists to participate in the most prestigious portrait contest in the country: the juried Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. In 2016, its fourth iteration, jurors selected 43 winning works from more than 2,500 entries. The resulting exhibition has become a pivotal marker because, for the first time ever, the Portrait Gallery has sent it on tour. The Ackland Art Museum is honored to host The Outwin: American Portraiture Today and will be the exhibition’s final venue.

The first-prize winner of the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, Amy Sherald has gained significant prominence recently as the commissioned artist for the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. The Outwin marks Sherald’s return to UNC-Chapel Hill; she had her first solo exhibition in 2011 at UNC’s Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

Programs and Events during “The Outwin”

VIDEO RESOURCES

Ackland Art Museum Welcomes Major Portrait Exhibition
The Outwin: American Portraiture Today
Video Preview by Rob Holliday, University Communications – May 31, 2018

The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today

Competition Winners: Amy Sherald, First Prize • Cynthia Henebry, Second Prize • Joel Daniel Phillips, Third Prize

Jurors: Dawoud BeyHelen Molesworth, Jerry Saltz, John Valadez

This exhibition has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. The competition and exhibition have been made possible by generous support from the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment.

 

The Ackland presentation of this exhibition has been made possible by generous support from The Caldwell Family Fund for the Ackland Art Museum, The Seymour and Carol Levin Foundation, Cathy and Hunter Allen, and Elizabeth Kenan Morton.

Amy Sherald, American, born 1973: Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance); oil on canvas, 54 x 43-1/8 in., 2013. Frances and Burton Reifler © Amy Sherald.

Mondrian / Léger / Kandinsky: Three Modern Masterworks from the Collection of Julian H. Robertson, Jr.

The year 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the cataclysmic war that engulfed Europe, swept away monarchies, and upended the old order. In the years after 1918, many artists developed radical aesthetic programs that spoke to the utopian desire for a new society, for a new humanity. Piet Mondrian’s absolute non-objectivity, Fernand Léger’s machine-age cubism, and Vassily Kandinsky’s lyrical abstraction were three responses, exemplified in three powerful paintings on loan from the distinguished collection of Carolina alumnus Julian H. Robertson, Jr.

Piet Mondrian, Dutch, 1872-1944: Composition with Black, Red, Grey, Yellow, and Blue, c. 1920; gouache with traces of pencil on paper laid down on card. Lent by Julian H. Robertson, Jr. (B.A. ’55), L2017.29.1.

The Study Gallery

By: Elizabeth Manekin

As is true in lots of encyclopedic collections, much of the artwork in the Ackland was never intended to be in a museum. Made for religious rituals, mass markets, burial sites, and banquet tables, it lives in harmony alongside works that were intended for gallery walls. We collect and combine the gamut as “Art.”

Sammy Baloji Culture Congolese, African, “Kalamata, chief of the Luba against watercolor by Dardenne” 2011:
medium archival digital photograph on Hahnemuhle Paper. 2016.6.

Perhaps my favorite part of my job is teaching and learning about these diverse objects from multiple perspectives. Teaching in the galleries, I regularly engage in lively discussion with students and faculty; in the Study Gallery, I get to put some of those conversations on the wall.

The artwork in the Study Gallery aligns with course objectives from all corners of the University, and its organization often eschews the traditional display categories of country or chronology. I work closely with faculty to determine which works of art will enhance their course and its learning goals. The art might illuminate a cultural context, or push students to consider a familiar concept from a new perspective. Works of art may develop new competencies, of empathy or visual literacy for example, or might be a platform for further research, reflection, and creative response. With two eight-week installations per semester, there’s always something new to see and consider on view.

This semester is no exception. In our first rotation, for example, graduate students in the Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program visited the Ackland’s Study Gallery on multiple occasions as they investigated experiential learning. Students examined the different experiences depicted in the artwork and reflected upon their own experiences of looking at and talking about art. As students looked repeatedly, they evaluate the concepts that define experiential learning and how they relate to their work in the classroom.

Also on view were works for the Art History courses “Introduction to Architecture” and “Art and Sports,” which presented multiple representations of building and athletes, respectively. Students in a Renaissance history course used works of art on view in the Study Gallery to learn to read visual and material primary sources. A Women’s and Gender Studies class analyzed photography and thought

about issues of identity. Graduate students in musicology explored the influence of Russian refugees on global artistic production in the wake of the Revolution in 1917. This last course coincided with a graduate-organized conference, and their scholarship was accessible in the gallery.

Egon Schiele, Austrian, “Church and Houses at Modling, near Vienna,” 1918: black chalk and gouache. 58.1.238

Anyone of these Study Gallery installations is engaging on its own, but I also love the challenge of figuring out the ways in which these separate courses are in dialogue with one another. This semester, the theme of how we form identities, as individuals and as nations, is an undercurrent. In what ways do both the buildings around us and the sports teams we root for shape our sense of self in relation to the world outside? How do we draw the boundaries of “otherness”? What are the roots of our faith in reason and logic? What role do we play in shaping our own identities? These are big, difficult questions, helped along by the experience of looking closely at what is sometimes a small and specific thing. For all visitors, the Study Gallery is a window into the classrooms at Carolina and an invitation to ask these questions on your own.

I invite you to come to the Ackland’s second-floor Study Gallery. Look closely and think big. Pick up a syllabus. Discuss issues with a friend. The Study Gallery is for everyone!