The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery celebrates the opening of Memento Mori: Looking at Death in Art and Illustration with a reception on Thursday, March 12, from 5 to 7 pm in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus. Drawing on the combined resources of the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, the Eskind Biomedical Library Special Collections, local museums, and several private collections, the exhibit, on view through May 23, will reveal multiple perspectives on the nature of death and our attempts to memorialize the dead in order to give meaning to their lives.
The selection of art work attempts to create a greater understanding of the role of death and mourning throughout history. Through this collaborative effort, the Fine Arts Gallery presents an interdisciplinary approach to our awareness of mortality from the sixteenth century to the present.
Material featured within this exhibition ranges from art rooted in the Danse Macabre or Dance of Death, the medieval allegorical concept of the all-conquering and equalizing power of death, to deathbed scenes—a reminder that, in contrast to the way death is often experienced today, the end of life was frequently a gathering of family and loved ones. Other works reveal approaches to funerals and mourning, including artistic tributes to the dead.
The exhibition represents a range of times and cultures and includes works by Ivan Albright, Andrea di Bartoli, Enrique Chagoya, Sue Coe, William Edmondson, Hans Holbein, Käthe Kollwitz, Georges Roualt, Thomas Rowlandson, Stephen Tourlentes, Andreas Vesalius, Werner Wildner, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
Memento Mori: Looking at Death in Art and Illustration is organized by the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery and co-curated by Joseph Mella, director, Holly Tucker, professor of French studies and professor of biomedical ethics and society, Christopher Ryland, assistant director at the Eskind Biomedical Library, and James J. Thweatt, coordinator for historical collections at the Eskind Biomedical Library.
Save the date for the Flexner Dean’s Lecture: “Memento Mori: Clinical and Historical Readings on Death in Art,” Tuesday, April 14, from 12:00-1:00 pm in Light Hall 208. Panelists include John Sergent, professor of medicine; Leonard Folgarait, professor of history of art; and Holly Tucker, professor of French and professor of biomedical ethics and society. More details to follow.
Gallery hours from March 12 to April 30 are Monday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 pm; and from May 1 to May 23: Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 pm, Saturday, 1 to 5 pm, and closed on Sunday and Monday. 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. Free parking is available after 5 pm in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East.
For further information, call the gallery (615.322.0605) or the curator’s office (615.343.1702); or visit vanderbilt.edu/gallery.
*Andreas Vesalius, Flemish (1514-1564)
De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body)
Second Edition, 1555
The Eskind Biomedical Library Special Collections