A Decade of Gifts and Discoveries

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Jan 9 – March 9, 2014

Fred Machetanz
Donald Judd
Hans Richter
Vance Hall Kirkland
Roy Klein
Francisco de Goya
Georgy Zelma
Dmitri Baltermants
Paul Strand
Georgy Zelma
Misha Manufactured by Fuct
Ed Templeton Manufactured by Toy Machine
Ty Gilbert Manufactured by Human
Mel Strawn
Frank Vavra
John Edward Thompson
Vilem Kriz
Charles Sarrabezolles
Earl Biss
Mark Zamantakis
Evan Hecox Manufactured by Chocolate Skateboards
Alfred Guillou
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Roger Allen Kotoske
Frank Albert Mechau
Aristide Maillol
Garry Winogrand
Georges Roualt
Vassily Kandinsky
Josef Albers
Yaacov Agam
Mirko (Basaldella)
Gladys Caldwell Fisher
Daniel Ridgway Knight

A Decade of Gifts and Discoveries

You might be surprised to learn about the extent of DU’s art collections, which began to accumulate soon after the founding of the School of Art in 1880. Possibly even more surprising are the breadth and depth of materials donated during the decade leading up to 2014, DU’s Sesquicentennial. These gifts most often come from alumni, but there are many donors whose connection to us is simply an enthusiasm for art and for the work we do with our students. A Decade of Gifts and Discoveries features over 130 works drawn from this rich decade of collections growth and research. The graphic nearby shows details of more than 500 of the recent gifts. Working with a remarkably talented and enthusiastic group of students–mostly MA candidates in Art History, but including some hard-working undergrads– I’ve had the special pleasure of (re)discovering many artworks since 2005. These include works found in basements, attics and dark corners— and I’m not speaking figuratively! Please look for information on some of these discoveries throughout the exhibition.

Donors and artworks: research and stewardship

While we had an inventory of nearly 1000 works stored in this building when I came to DU in 2005, the new Hampden Art Study Center (HASC), which we opened in 2012, now houses over 3000 catalogued artworks accessible to students, faculty and researchers. Staffed largely by students in the MA program in Art History, it’s a learning laboratory for collections-based museum work. Drawn largely from the collections at HASC, this exhibition reflects recent research by students here at the School of Art & Art History. Some of the interpretive texts are signed by student researchers and by recent MA graduates. Some of these texts relate to the objects themselves and to their meaning in an art-historical context.

On the other hand, some interpretations focus on our efforts to identify and recognize the donors of each object. We’ve identified dozens of donors through our research over the past few years, tying them to hundreds of donated artworks. The stewardship task we’ve set for ourselves includes a donor archive. Of course these files also help us perform the basic task of understanding the origins and authenticity of each work–its provenance–and so the work of investigating the artwork is intimately bound with research on how it came to be here.

Our research is mirrored by an active program to better care for the physical objects themselves. A remarkable example, which we demonstrate elsewhere with photos and drawings, has been the discovery and restoration of a large-scale mural by faculty member John E. Thompson, completed in the Little Theatre of Margery Reed Hall in 1929. Look around the corner for more information regarding this project.