In fall 2020, the Ackland launched the Ackland Exchange initiative to re-energize and expand our long tradition of service to UNC System campuses. The initiative began with a focus on sharing exhibitions — and the expertise to design, install, interpret, and promote them — with traditionally-minority-serving campuses across North Carolina. Ackland Exchange aims to place the visual arts at the heart of the academic enterprise. Ackland Exchange is made possible by James Keith (JK) Brown and Eric G. Diefenbach. Exhibitions to date include:
The thirty-six prints in Dürer to Picasso are drawn from the collection at the Ackland Art Museum and represent the creations of some of the most recognized European artists active from the late fifteenth to the early twentieth century. Works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco de Goya, William Blake, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Käthe Kollwitz, and Vincent van Gogh, among others, demonstrate the expressive power, aesthetic beauty, and compelling content made possible through printmaking. The works on view are both representative of the art historical movements under which they were made, such as the Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionism, and Surrealism, and individually are remarkable works of art. Each offers an impressive example of how the use of black ink combined with various printmaking techniques can create a wealth of creative possibilities.
The large-scale abstract paintings of Felrath Hines (1913-1993) were much admired during his lifetime but exhibited relatively infrequently. In early 2009, his widow, Dorothy Fisher, donated a selection of his major works to the Ackland Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the North Carolina Central University Art Museum, three institutions that had expressed interest in Hines’ work in the past. The special exhibition Color Balance: Paintings by Felrath Hines brings these works together in one of only a handful of major Hines retrospectives ever.
During his lifetime, Hines made his professional living as an art conservator, serving at different times as Chief Conservator of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, personal conservator for Georgia O’Keefe, and conservator for the Museum of Modern Art. As a young man, he trained at the School of the Arts Institute at Chicago while working as a dining-car waiter on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, then relocated to New York City, where he moved in the same circles as other celebrated African American artists and thinkers, such as singer Harry Belafonte, writer James Baldwin, and jazz musician Billy Strayhorn (who was the first person to purchase one of Hines’ paintings). Hines was one of the sixteen founding members of the Spiral Group, which included Romare Bearden and was founded to consider the role of the African American artist in social change. Despite this and other political involvement, Hines felt strongly that art transcended boundaries of race and resisted being identified as an African American artist, hoping to avoid having his work placed in a “special category with a particular group.”
Almost Now considers the partnerships between Cuban filmmakers, printmakers, and viewing audiences. Within months of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the government established the Cuban National Film Institute, abbreviated ICAIC in Spanish. The ICAIC included a commercial graphics studio for making silkscreen prints, and the two art forms flourished in the following decades. Filmmakers created newsreels, documentaries, comedies, and dramas on political, social, and literary topics. Printmakers designed vibrant, evocative posters that displayed their individual talents at the same time that they complemented the films. The cinema poster became the artistic medium of the moment. Some of the most prominent Cuban artists of this time are represented, including Rene Portocarrero, Raul Martinez, and Alfredo Rostgaard. Cuban film audiences participated actively in the viewing experience, discussing whether a film supported, challenged, or ignored social and political issues.
The seventeen works of art in Almost Now were donated to the Ackland Art Museum from the collection of art historian and UNC Chapel Hill alumnus Dr. David L. Craven ’79 (PhD). This exhibition is organized by the Ackland Art Museum at UNC Chapel Hill and has been made available under the Ackland Exchange program of collaboration with UNC System Campuses.
For more than 400 years the world has viewed the first illustrations of Native peoples through Theodor de Bry’s engravings. Based on John White’s watercolor paintings, this collection of 16th century engravings depict Algonquin peoples during the attempted 1587 settlement of the Roanoke Colony in what would become present-day North Carolina. The engravings and other printed matter in the exhibition are on loan from the Michael N. Joyner Collection, donated in 2021 to the Ackland Art Museum. This exhibition is organized by the Ackland Art Museum together with the Museum of the Southeast American Indian at UNC Pembroke.
Dürer to Picasso: 400 Years of European Prints from the Ackland Art Museum Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, The Triumph of Mordecai, c. 1641, etching and drypoint, 6 7/8 in. x 8 7/16 in. (17.4 x 21.4 cm). The William A. Whitaker Foundation Art Fund, 2011.22.2.
Felrath Hines: Color Balance Felrath Hines, American, 1913 – 1993, Escape, 1989, oil on linen, 58 5/8 x 52 9/16 in. (148.91 x 133.51 cm). Gift of Dorothy Fisher, wife of the artist, 2009.14.4
Almost Now: Cuban Art, Cinema, and Politics in the 1960s and 1970s
René Portocarrero, Cuban, 1912 – 1986, Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba), 1964, color screenprint. Ackland Art Museum, Gift of Dr. David L. Craven, 2008.43.6
Wuskitahkamik Miyai: Intersection of Worlds Theodor de Bry, Franco-Flemish, 1528-1598), The Sitting at Meat, plate 16 from Thomas Harriot’s A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, German edition, published 1590, engraving with hand coloring, sheet: 13 3/16 × 9 9/16 in. (33.5 × 24.3 cm). The Michael N. Joyner Collection, 2021.15.79.