Arts & Resistance theme semester to engage campus, community
By Dave Lawrence
Commemorating the University of Michigan’s 2017 Bicentennial, “Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors-Part II: Abstraction” celebrates the deep impact of Michigan alumni in the global art world. This two-part exhibition presents works collected by a diverse group of alumni that represent the breadth of the university and more than 70 years of graduating classes.
Part II, “Abstraction,” on view July 1–Oct. 29 in UMMA’s A. Alfred Taubman Gallery and Aug. 19–Nov. 26 in the Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery, showcases modern and contemporary art by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Louise Nevelson, Christo, Lorna Simpson, José Parlá and Do Ho Suh, among others. It also features a fifth-century Korean roof end tile and an Amish quilt, as well as a work by an Inuit master—inviting visitors to explore the strategies of abstraction across a range of media, eras and genres.
“I hope visitors enjoy works of ‘abstraction’ from diverse cultures, visual traditions and times, with an inquisitive mind,” said Natsu Oyobe, curator of Asian art. “Abstraction was not the invention of European Impressionists.”
Taken together, these works offer an unprecedented opportunity to view art that may have never been publicly displayed otherwise—and most certainly, not all together, Oyobe says.
“More than 80 percent of UMMA’s collection comes through donations from private donors, many of whom are University of Michigan alumni,” Oyobe said. “UMMA’s exhibitions, permanent gallery displays and object-based teaching would not exist without them.”
“Victors for Art” includes Random International’s “Swarm Study / II,” which combines artificial light with responsive digital technologies in a large-scale site-specific sculpture viewable from the exterior of UMMA’s Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery starting Aug. 19.
Hundreds of LED lights clipped onto vertically suspended brass rods will respond to and mirror movement in the surrounding environment. The resulting shifts of light that play across the surface of the work are reminiscent of the natural movements of bird or insect swarms, even though a computer behavioral algorithm guides the unique visual patterns of light on view.
“Swarm Study / II” has been generously loaned by the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art.
"This exhibition provides a special moment for visitors to reflect on the exceptional ways in which art contributes to the expansive and global perspectives cultivated by the educational experience at the University of Michigan, and celebrated by the Bicentennial," said Jennifer Friess, assistant curator of photography.
"I hope our audiences revel in the multitude of ways in which artists articulate their vision and experiences of the world through abstract techniques or ideas—from Pablo Picasso's abstractions of the human form to Barbara Kruger's abstract use of language and text."
This exhibition was organized by guest curator Joseph Rosa, in collaboration with UMMA curators Oyobe, Friess, Laura De Becker and Lehti Mairike Keelmann.
The U-M Museum of Art, located at 525 S. State St. in Ann Arbor, is free and open to the public 11 a.m-5 p.m Tues.–Sat., and 12 p.m–5 p.m on Sun.Lead support for "Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors" is provided by the U-M Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, U-M Office of the President, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts and U-M Bicentennial Office.
Jamie Sherman Blinder