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Attic Black-Figure Panel Amphora, Greek, circa 550 B.C.E. earthenware with slip decoration. Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, University of Richmond Museums, Gift of Susan E. Hughes, R2005.04.39. Image © Katherine Wetzel.
Jul 14, 2006
throughFeb 22, 2007

What's New? Recent Gifts in the Three University Museums

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On July 14, 2006, University of Richmond Museums will open the exhibition What's New? Recent Gifts in the Three University Museums at the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature. The exhibit celebrates the diversity of objects recently given to the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, and the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, and the works will be on view through February 22, 2007. The collections of the three museums include objects from around the world and throughout history. This exhibition will display a cross-section of the museum's most recent donations, ranging from prehistoric fossils, to centuries-old Asian sculptures, to contemporary American prints and paintings.
About the exhibition
The Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art is the eldest of the University of Richmond's museums, formed in 1968 and renamed in 2005 for the generous donors whose longtime support has led to the expansion of opportunities for the University Museums. Donations to the Harnett Museum include the Surrealist bronze sculpture Dragon/Swan/Elephant by Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989), gift of Joseph S. Czestochowski of The Parker Corporation. Created in the 1960s, this piece displays Dalí's preoccupation with the double- and triple-meanings of optical illusion within a single object. The oil painting Tracery of Winter (1959) by Virginia artist Theresa Pollak (American, 1899-2002) showcases her modernist sensibility for composition and color. A gift from her estate, the painting is a tribute to the artist and teacher who graduated from the University of Richmond in 1921 and helped establish the art departments at both Virginia Commonwealth University and her alma mater.

The continued support of the Harnetts established the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center in 2001, the region's only facility that focuses on the education, research, and display of works on paper. Included in the selection are two of the permanent collection's more than one hundred photographs by Life magazine photographer Andreas Feininger (American, 1908-1999) given by his widow and the Bonni Benrubi Gallery of New York to establish a body of works at the Center based on Feininger's exploration of the natural world. Formed in 1936, the Abstract American Artists recently gave the University Museums their organization's 50 th and 60 th anniversary portfolios of prints. Among the more than eighty works, Richard Anuszkiewicz's (American, born 1930) lithograph "Concentric II" (1956/1997) is highlighted for its representative position in the artist's development of his own style, as well as in the canon of Optical Art.

Donations of funds and objects by Mrs. Lora Robins established the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature in 1977. Since then, the museum has expanded to include a vast collection of natural and man-made objects based on organic materials and designs--from Pre-Columbian whistles to large amethyst geodes to a recent glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941)--with many of the works on permanent display. The aptly-named state fossil of Virginia, the Chesapecten jeffersonius, donated by Matthew Taylor King, will be on exhibit alongside a variety of minerals, gems, and ancient artifacts. Also highlighted is the Greek Attic Black-Figure Amphora, created circa 550 B.C.E., and donated by Susan E. Hughes. The vessel is embellished with a powerful depiction of a horse and soldier, which was a common motif in ancient Greek art.   

The East Gallery in the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature will provide the venue for the selection of the University Museums' recent gifts from various donors and an impressive range of objects. In September, more works on paper from the permanent collection will be highlighted in the exhibition Lasting Impressions: Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center.

The exhibition was co-curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director; Matthew Houle, Curator of Museum Collections; and Carmen Hermo, '07, art history and English majors, University of Richmond, and 2006 Harnett Summer Research Fellow.