For many people, a childhood home conjures memories of comfort and contentment, of a safe place away from the toils of everyday life. For others, their childhood home may evoke feelings of familiarity coupled with strangeness, exemplifying Sigmund Freud’s concept of the “uncanny.” Through works by Andrew Wyeth and H.C. Westermann, In Pursuit of Strangeness explores diverse responses in American art to the uncanny home, as well as domestic architecture’s role in defining the boundaries between ourselves and the outside world.
Dating from the early twentieth century to the present, the works on view exemplify the complexities of our relationship to home and place through unsettling perspectives and unusual materials, subverting the understanding of home as familiar (heimlich) and transforming it into something foreign (unheimlich). The exhibition also investigates the difference between a house and a home, as well as how homes become extensions of their inhabitants. In addition to Wyeth and Westermann, other artists in the show include Ralph Gibson, Marilyn Anne Levine, Bruce Nauman, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White, among others.
Curated by Erin Corrales-Diaz, Huntley Intern, Ackland Art Museum.
In Pursuit of Strangeness is the culmination of this year’s Joan and Robert Huntley Art History Scholarship for a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, which supports collaboration between the Ackland Art Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art. In keeping with the goals of the scholarship, this exhibition brings together objects from both collections in a way that invigorates and informs both collections.
Andrew Wyeth, American, 1917-2009: Weatherside, 1965; tempera. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Promised Gift of Ann and Jim Goodnight, © Andrew Wyeth.
Ralph Gibson, American, born 1939: Untitled (Hand on Door), from The Somnambulist, 1969; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gift of Gene Thornton. © Ralph Gibson.