The Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery celebrates the opening of their latest exhibit, Difficult Art and the Liberal Arts Imagination, with a reception on Friday, September 27, from 5 to 7 pm in Cohen Hall on the Peabody campus. Martin Rapisarda, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, who curated the exhibit, will make opening remarks at 6 pm. The reception will be held in conjunction with The Ingram Commons’ Fall for the Arts.
Drawn from the University gallery’s extensive permanent collection, the exhibit seeks to highlight works that confront the viewer with questions about the status of art, its meaning, and its purpose. Inspired by George Steiner’s essay “On Difficulty,” which explores the various ways works of art in their impenetrable opaqueness resist comprehension and immediacy, the exhibition is a selection of works that are “difficult” in that they defy comprehension. Often these works of art do not fit into ready-made categories and test or expand assumptions about what constitutes art. Some of the featured works refer or react to other works that may not be immediately obvious or known to the viewer, arising out of some “other” tradition.
Artists represented in this exhibition whose works dislocate, confront, and goad our experience of their works include Salvador Dalí, Eugène Delacroix, Donna Ferrato, Jean Hélion, Lee Krasner, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Rembrandt van Rijn, Auguste Rodin, Edward Steichen, and Kara Walker. On view through December 5, Difficult Art and the Liberal Arts Imagination is presented to coincide with the fall 2013 Vanderbilt Commons Reading, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco. Vanderbilt faculty and staff selected several of the works in the show, and some are presented with commentary explaining why the work was chosen to represent “difficult” art.
Visitors to the gallery are also invited to view a special exhibition of Tapestry Suite by Creighton Michael, MA’76, on display through Sunday, October 6, in the rear gallery space of Cohen Memorial Hall. Seven digital drawings, selected from Michael’s larger Tapestry series, were created by the artist in honor of Milan Mihal, professor of fine arts emeritus, and donated to the Fine Arts Gallery by the artist.
Michael expressed his gratitude to Mihal for introducing him to “the wondrous beauty and serene sensitivity of the Far East.” He also cites his experiences in Mihal’s class as an influence for much of his artistic practice over the past forty years. Michael’s drawings will take on special significance during Vanderbilt’s Homecoming/Reunion Weekend, October 4-6.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 pm. The gallery will be closed on October 10-13 for fall break and November 23-December 1 for Thanksgiving. Free and open to the public, the Fine Arts Gallery is housed in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East.
*Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798-1863). Méphistophélès dans les airs (Mephistopheles in the Air), from Faust, Tragédie de M. de Goethe, 1828. Lithograph, 10 3/4 x 9 inches. Vanderbilt Art Association Acquisition Fund Purchase, 1983.004.