Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Art for Yale

Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, (203) 432-0600
Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century
Through Jan. 13, 2008.

While walking into the Yale Art Gallery I passed a class of Yale art students speaking to each other excitedly. “That was great!” a man said to another of one of the pieces. “I never knew we had that here!” This is exactly the sort of effect the curators most likely hope for visitors of “Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century” to have, and what they do indeed achieve. The exhibit is filled with works even regular visitors would not be likely to know that Yale owns—whether because they’ve blended in with the other great work in the building or because Yale is still in the process of acquiring them from donors. Many of the pieces have never before been on public view.

“Art for Yale” is made up of over three hundred objects selected from the nearly 15,700 acquired since 1998. The first and fourth floors are given over to the exhibit. Items range from coins ca 350 B.C., to Mourning Embroidery from 1798, to photographs by Walker Evans, to a box by Joseph Cornell, to rather a lot of pictures by Chuck Close. Auguste Rodin’s “Le main crispe” (“The clenched hand,”) reaches up from a pedestal on the fourth floor. Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin’s “The Silver Fish and the Multitudes Have Lunch and other Myths,” (consisting of a sad-looking real dead fish, cross, a silver flower, wood, and other odd materials,) is in the back room of the first floor. There’s also a corner of three Giacomettis. A photo of Giacometti by Robert Frank taken in Paris in 1964 hangs there as well. In it Giacometti’s face looks remarkably like those of his own sculptures.

One stand-out piece on the first floor is Whitfield Lovell’s “Ode,” based on a photograph taken in the first part of the twentieth century. In it an African-American man wears a suit and tie, hat and boots. He leans against a chair. In front of the picture, which is painted on a large, battered-looking flat piece of wood, are two chairs. They are also battered and threadbare, their stuffing leaking out. The presence of the chairs somehow makes the painting inexplicably poignant.

It’s a nice surprise, one of many well-worth seeing in Art for Yale.


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