The Ackland Art Museum turned 60 in September 2018. 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.