umma magazine | fall 2012

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University of Michigan Museum of Art magazine.


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    from the director

    THIS FALL THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MUSEUM OF ART CELEBRATES collaboration and innovation through its exhibitions, collections, publications, outreach, and interpretation. All of these exciting projects and initiatives reflect UMMAs mission to connect visitors with objects and ideas that can meaningfully shape how they experience, filter, and understand their world.

    As we outlined in the previous issue, the recent $650,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to the Museum will have far-reaching implications for how UMMA can engage more broadly with the University in its mission to encourage multidisciplinary and global thinking. One of the key components of the grant is what we call Collections Collaborations. On September 22 the Museum unveils an exhibition that came about through an impactful collaboration with another important collecting unit on campus: Discovering Eighteenth-Century British America: The William L. Clements Library Collection. This exhibition of exceptional highlights from the library provides the perfect complement to our other major fall exhibitionBenjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empirewhich brings together objects and material to contextualize the Clements version of the great West canvas, The Death of General Wolfe.

    Speaking of collections, thanks to grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, and the Korean Cultural Heritage Association with additional support from the UM Nam Center for Korean Studies the Museum will introduce various multimedia tools and fresh voices and interpretation to its collections galleries. Please see the full story later in this issue.

    The Museums dynamic publishing program has ramped up with the launch of a new series called UMMA Books and the release this season of three exhibition-related publications that feature new scholarship and perspectives. Two are more traditional exhibition cataloguesAfrican Art and the Shape of Time and Benjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empirewhile the volume offered in conjunction with YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES is an innovative artists book that functions as the second part of this incisive and exhilarating installation.

    I look forward to seeing you at the Museum!

    Warmest regards,

    Joseph RosaDirector


    UMMA NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

    EXHIBITIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

    IN FOCUS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

    PROGRAMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

    UMMA HAPPENINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

    SPOTLIGHT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

    MEMBERSHIP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

    UMMA STORE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

    Cover: Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe (detail), 1776, oil on canvas, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

    UMMAs 2012 season is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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    umma news


    Ancestor fi gure, Congo (Zaire), Tabwa, wood, UMMA, Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Helmut Stern, 1987/1.157.001

    UMMA RECEIVES CACHE OF WORKS BY EMILIO SANCHEZ The Emilio Sanchez Foundation in New York recently gave the Museum of Art a large gift of seventy prints and ten paintings by the acclaimed artist. Born in Cuba in 1921, Sanchez moved to New York in 1944 and lived and worked in the city until his death in 1999. Sanchez is known for his vibrant, abstracted images of vernacular architecture and structural fragments rendered through at color, dramatic light and shadow, and geometric rigor. Sanchez bridged Latin American, Caribbean, and American modernism and drew on such diverse sources as Georgia OKeeffe and Pierre Bonnard. He described himself as a Realist with a Surrealist twist. UMMA is very grateful to the foundation for this generous gift, which complements the Museums growing Latin American collection in important and diverse ways.

    UMMA AFRICAN OBJECTS LOANED TO SMITHSONIANThe Museum of Art was very pleased to share three important works from UMMAs signi cant African holdings with the Smithsonians National Museum of African Art through January 30, 2013. The three ancestor gurestwo women and one manare fashioned of wood in the Manda style and originate from the Congo region; all three objects were generous gifts to the Museum from Helmut Stern. These arresting gures exhibit body scari cation patterns then in use in Tabwa communities. The UMMA works will be on view in Washington, DC, as part of African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, a major exhibition with a related publication that explores African cultural astronomy through traditional and contemporary visual art.

    NEW WORKS ON VIEW IN ASIAN GALLERIESUMMAs Shirley Chang Gallery of Chinese Art and the Museums Japanese Gallery have been enhanced with new works on view this fall, thanks to the C.Y. Chang Research Associate Internship and the UM Center for Japanese Studies, respec-tively. The lacquer wares now featured in the Japanese Gallery come from UMMA and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Made from the sap of a variety of sumac, lacquer ware rst appeared in Japan (from China) in the sixth century. Thin layers of lacquer are applied to a base material, usually wood, and then polished; decorative techniques include carving, painting, engraving, and inlay with metals, shells, or colored lacquers. These exquisite objects from Japan will be on view through summer 2013.

    Separately, a new installation in the Shirley Chang Gallery of Chinese Art includes a diverse selection of contemporary Chinese folk pottery from the collections of three Michigan-based ceramic artists: John Stephenson, Suzanne Stephenson, and Marie Woo. Through numerous research trips to rural areas of China between 1995 and 2009, these artists studied the techniques and artistry of Tibetan, Dai, Bai, Miao, and Han pottery communities. These objects of daily use were created by individuals, families, or small-scale pottery-making communities primarily for local or regional commercial markets. This special installation will remain on view through April 2013.

    DIRECTOR JOSEPH ROSA ON NATIONAL TRAVEL RADIO PROGRAMIn May UMMA Director Joseph Rosa was among several noteworthy Ann Arborites who served as guests on the Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio Show, a nationally syndicated travel news program. An acclaimed travel journalist, Greenberg, in addition to hosting his popular radio show, which each week is broadcast from a different location around the world, is travel editor for CBS News and appears regularly on CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and CBS Sunday Morning. Some of the other guests from Ann Arbor included Eve Aronoff, chef and owner of Frita Batidos, who chatted about her Cuban-inspired eatery in downtown Ann Arbor; Ken Fischer, president of the University Musical Society; and former UM football star Dhani Jones. The three-hour show, which was produced at UMMA in the Helmut Stern Auditorium in the Frankel Wing, reached more than three million listeners across the country.

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    a. alfred taubman gallery i | september 22, 2012january 13, 2013




    How is it that an American painter came to define the British Empire?

    When Benjamin Wests painting The Death of General Wolfe was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1771 it was received with great acclaim and quickly became one of the most famous paintings in eighteenth-century Britain, serving for generations as the consummate projection of its military, moral, and cultural supremacy and a celebration of Empire. Depicting the heroic death of James Wolfe, the British commander at the 1759 Battle of Qubec during what is known in this country as the French and Indian War (175463), Wests canvas presented a momen-tous contemporary event in a large-scale history painting, but with the figures in modern rather than classical dress. In so doing, West flouted the conventions of the genre put forth by academic painters such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, the famed director of the Royal Academy. Though his was not the earliest representation of the death of Wolfe nor the first history painting to violate the norms of pictorial depiction by showing him in uniform, Wests interpretation of the event became iconic, crystallizing for a patriotic public the moment when Britain assumed the mantle of empire. The artist went on to produce five additional full-scale versions of the painting, one of which belongs to the William L. Clements Library at the

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    University of Michigan. The composition was also widely disseminated in the form of reproductive engravings that earned both the painter and the engraver a small fortune.

    Through forty works from Michigan, Canadian, and British collections, this thematically focused exhibition considers how artists contributed to Great Britains emergence as the dominant colonial power in Europe in the later eighteenth centuryfrom Wests pivotal portrayal, to the paintings popularization in a wide variety of media, to the cartographers on the ground in Canada whose maps helped ensure Canadas future as a British colony. In addition to Wests monumental vision of British conquest, the exhibition includes previous depictions of James Wolfe and his death on the battlefield and explores the commodification of Wolfe in popular culture.