Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Past Exhibitions

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Lee Friedlander At Work

September 10—December 11, 2005 | Kress Gallery

Organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio. Programming for this exhibition is supported in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Breidenthal-Snyder Foundation generously supports the Spencer Museum of Art venue. When I turned sixty-five I retired from everything but work. So quips Lee Friedlander, who, for the past five decades, has been inexhaustibly chronicling the American social and cultural landscape. Friedlander, one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, is known for his keen depictions of the worlds of jazz, of television, of urban landscapes and deserts, and of family. And throughout his prolific career, Friedlander has acknowledged the largely anonymous worker, making inventive pictures of the familiar, humdrum, yet overriding role of work in America. Lee Friedlander--At Work not only witnesses the radical change in the American workplace from blue collar to desktop, but also invites us to appreciate Friedlander's profound contribution to photography through one constant thread, the ubiquitous universe of work. At Work explores the saga of the American worker through six photographic series that were commissioned by museum curators, magazine editors, foundations, and businesses: Factory Valleys (1979--80) features images of heavy and light industry located in northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania; MIT (1985--86) records the dramatic shift in the technological landscape along Route 128, Boston's outer loop; Cray (1986) is the visual story of this Wisconsin-based maker of super computers; Gund (1995) depicts Cleveland's steel industry; Dreyfus (1992) is a composite portrait of that corporation's New York City trading floor; and Telemarketing (1995) scrutinizes workers based in Omaha, Nebraska, who help make this recent and explosive sales phenomenon possible.

Prior to its presentation at the Spencer, this exhibition was to be presented in three major European venues in Cologne, Amsterdam, and Paris. All works are gelatin silver prints, on loan from the artist courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

detail: Cray by Lee Friedlander     detail: Canton, Ohio by Lee Friedlander     detail: Omaha, Nebraska by Lee Friedlander     detail: Boston by Lee Friedlander     detail: Dreyfus by Lee Friedlander

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Feeding Lawrence/Work+Workplace

September 23 —December 11, 2005

Commissioned by the Spencer to create an original work of video art in conjunction with the exhibition Lee Friedlander At Work, artists Earl Iversen and Luke Jordan, who also are KU faculty members, made Feeding Lawrence/Work + Workplace. Supported by the Sam and Terry Evans Fund and the KU School of Fine Arts, Department of Design, Feeding Lawrence employs the medium of digital video to explore two local businesses that actively “feed” the local community in ways that involve food and communication. By focusing on food and communication, Iversen and Jordan intend for the project to address the work involved to provide for essential and elemental human needs of contemporary community.

View the Feeding Lawrence brochure:

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Discourse on Discovery: Native Perspectives on the Trail

September 10—December 11, 2005 | South Balcony Gallery

This fall, the Spencer will commemorate the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with an exhibition that explores the Corps of Discovery's journey from the Native point of view. Discourse on Discovery: Native Perspectives on the Trail, an exhibition organized by guest curator Joni Murphy, will center on a portfolio of prints by fifteen contemporary Native artists that the museum recently acquired, and will also include a stunning selection of traditional moccasins, borrowed from the KU Anthropological Research and Cultural Collections. The portfolio, Native Perspectives on the Trail, was organized and published by the Missoula Art Museum, and serves as one example of how Native people are expressing their viewpoints on the Bicentennial. The artists of Native Perspectives on the Trail confront American history and replace stereotypical views with artistic statements of humor, irony and passion. From Sacagewea to commercial imperialism, each artist deals with some of the more problematic areas of American social history surrounding the expedition. As homage to the artists involved, the long miles traveled by The Corps, and the varied Indigenous cultures that welcomed and came to the aid of the expedition, Murphy and Mary Adair, curator of the KU Anthropological Research and Cultural Collections, selected 10 pair of moccasins to display alongside the contemporary work.

Murphy says the combination of traditional and contemporary Native art forms reminds us of the roles America's Indigenous peoples play in American cultural history. "The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial presents the opportunity and the environment for education and change," she writes in the gallery guide that will accompany the exhibition. "The sometimes-mythic framework of American history is replaced with a renewed knowledge of cultures and traditions that have long been ignored."

detail: Salish Tribe (Now That’s a Coyote Story) by Neal Ambrose-Smith     detail: Lewis & Clark Back to the Earth by Dwight Billedeaux     detail: Ways of Seeing, Ways of Being — Then and Now by Melissa Bob     detail: Strokes of Truth by Damian Charette     detail: Indian Country Passage Denied by Corwin Clairmont

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Quilts: A Thread of Modernism

August 15 – October 30, 2005 | North Balcony Gallery

Quilts, a traditional American folk art, are an ideal blend of function and decoration. In the past thirty years they've come off the bed and onto gallery walls. Quilts are popularly viewed as art today because the twentieth-century trend toward modernism has encouraged us to appreciate many of their design characteristics, their flat planes, bright colors and abstracted forms. Modernists have looked to folk arts such as quilts for inspiration, but modernism also changed the way quilts look. Organized by Barbara Brackman, Spencer honorary curator of quilts, assisted by Debra Thimmesch, curatorial intern in European and American art, Quilts: A Thread of Modernism looks at a dozen quilts from Spencer's collection within the context of the modern movement.

Some quilters reflected and others reacted to the influence of European ideas such as the Arts and Crafts movement and the Wiener Werkstatte. Several added a narrative thread giving either symbolic meaning to traditional abstractions or literal meaning with words appliquéd to the surface or written on the reverse. New dyes, colors and fabric print styles reflected new taste in interior design and clothing fashion. Among the quilts exhibited will be two by Rose Kretsinger of Emporia, who achieved a national reputation by incorporating Art Nouveau's sinuous line into traditional floral appliqué.

detail: Double Irish Chain and Scotch Thistle by Anna Gleissner Good     detail: Double Bough by William Morris (Morris and Co.)     detail: Desk clock by Louis Comfort Tiffany (Tiffany & Company)     detail: Princess Feather by Unknown

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Images of the Journey

June 4 – September 25 2005 | Asian Gallery

Travel is adventure. Not just the destination, but also the journey itself invites new, enriching experiences. This selection from the Spencer's Asian collection highlights depictions of travel, explorations of places unfamiliar to the artists and representations of artists' journeys. The selected works depict traveling figures, evoke well-known tourist destinations and routes, record artists' experiences of travel, and invite the viewer to experience "virtual" travel through interaction with the images. Organized by Hillary Pedersen, Carpenter Foundation intern in Asian Art.

detail: Sunset at the Three Gorges by Zhao Shao’ang     detail: Portrait of Bash? by Yokoi Kinkoku     detail: #53 Sailing from Kusatsu to Yabase by Utagawa Hiroshige     detail: The Seashore at Miho no Matsubara by Kan? School     detail: Camel Tomb Figurine by Unknown

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Recent Acquisitions

June 18 – August 28, 2005 | South Balcony Gallery

The diverse works assembled in this exhibition are all recent additions to the Spencer's permanent collection, brought into the fold by purchase, by gift, by bequest. From paintings to photographs, from lithographs to DVDs, from the 1500s to today, they bring greater variety, depth and definition to a collection that now surpasses 25,000 objects. The opportunity to share them for the first time with the public is the primary reason they are hung in the same gallery--why a 1930 Japanese color woodcut shares space with a 1559 Flemish etching, why a 1914 French lithograph hangs near a 2004 German photograph. But their newness to our collection is not the only compelling reason to see these works together.

Viewed collectively, juxtaposed against one another in an intimate space, these disparate works reframe the human condition. Their conversations in contrast ultimately become more about connections than disparities. From their discussions in diversity we may divine our own questions. What can they tell us about ourselves? Seeing them side by side, observing them across from one another, our eyes discern their differences and also their similarities. Through these observations, we may breathe the breath of new possibilities, of fresh interpretations, of deeper meanings.

detail: La Flute by Félix Edouard Vallotton     detail: two birds on wisteria branch by Ohara Shoson     detail: Untitled (village scene with felled trees) by Jan and/or Lucas van Doetecum     detail: The Letter “N” by Stephen Johnson     detail: Twelve Drive-Ins I by Jeff Brouws

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Daguerreotype to Digital: Photographs from the Collection

January 22 – July 31, 2005 | North Balcony Gallery

Sponsored By:
First State Bank

This exhibition surveys the history of photography from the 1840s to the present, featuring more than 50 highlights from the Spencer's collection of 4000 photographs. Daguerreotype to Digital: Photographs from the Collection is organized by John Pultz, curator of photography, assisted by Brett Knappe, the 2004-05 graduate intern in photography, who is pursuing a PhD in art history at KU with a specialization in the history of photography.   The exhibition is a resource for the spring semester history of photography survey class taught by Pultz, who is also associate professor of art history at KU, and allows students to see directly, and not through reproduction, representative samples of important photographs from throughout the medium's history. During the semester, students will come in small groups to the gallery several times with Pultz to examine closely and discuss the original works of art and afterwards write short papers on the visits. The exhibition includes many photographs that the Spencer has acquired since Pultz came to KU in 1993, as well as long-time favorites of the collection. Included are examples of early photographic techniques from the 1840s and 1850s, including daguerreotype, tintype, and ambrotype portraits, as well as a calotype print of a French church from around 1855, made from a paper negative. Other nineteenth-century photographs, by Matthew Brady, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Eadweard Muybridge, and Carleton Watkins, document the American Civil War and the expansion into the American West that followed. Highlights from the twentieth-century include works by Man Ray, August Sander, Charles Sheeler, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, Irving Penn, and Diane Arbus.

"This exhibition demonstrates the incredible quality and breadth of the Spencer's photography collection," says Pultz. "It also helps us to identify the gaps in the collection and see where we should be adding to it."

detail: Unknown by Unknown     detail: Winter--Fifth Avenue by Alfred Stieglitz     detail: Izvestiia Building. Editorial Headquarters of newspaper by Alexander Rodchenko     detail: Nevisian Underground #2 by James Casebere

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Invisible Revealed: Surrealist Drawings from the Drukier Collection

April 2 – June 5 , 2005 | Kress Gallery

How do artists respond to the devastation and turmoil of global conflict? In the wake of the First World War, one answer is found in the intensely psychological compositions of the Surrealists, whose work often entertains the interior realms of private thought and dream. Invisible Revealed: Surrealist Drawings from the Drukier Collection offers an opportunity to explore the Surrealist world. Curated by the Johnson Museum's senior curator of prints, drawings, and photographs, Nancy E. Green, Invisible Revealed presents nearly 150 intimate works of art on paper by the leading proponents of the international movement in art and literature known as Surrealism. Surrealism offered an alternative to the rational thinking that had culminated in the tragic events of the First World War. The exhibition includes many examples of Surrealist artists' fascination with dream, imagination, and chance. Among the exhibited artists are Jean Arp, Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner, André Breton, Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Léonor Fini, Wilfredo Lam, René Magrittte, Man Ray, André Masson, Roberto Matta, Francis Picabia, Kurt Seligmann, Yves Tanguy, and Dorothea Tanning. A full color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Given the failure of logic and rationality to solve Europe's political crises, and the enormous loss of life that ensued in the course of WWI, it seems only reasonable that many artists turned their attention to the illogical and the irrational. A case in point is the exercise in collaborative drawing known as the Cadavre Exquis ( Exquisite Corpse ), originally a children's game in which one participant would write a word, fold over the written portion of the page, and pass it on to the next participant. Unfolding the results of such play produced the classic example "The exquisite/ corpse/ will drink/ new/ wine." The Surrealists applied the game to the act of drawing and produced images of impossible creatures with elephant heads, claw arms, and feet clad in high heels.           Invisible Revealed offers an intimate approach to an understanding of Surrealism. As Charles Stuckey writes in his essay for the exhibition catalogue, "Instead of the primary emphasis on hand-to-eye coordination at issue in traditional drawing, Surrealist graphics stress hand-to-mind coordination. The rationale for Surrealist drawing techniques, whether impulsive or studied, is to make imaginary realms more legible." The confident yet unpredictable lines of an automatist drawing by Roberto Matta, the surprising patterns found in a frottage (rubbing) by Max Ernst, and the juxtapositions of unlikely subject matter in collages by Breton demonstrate a shared interest in making the unconscious visible.

Organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. Programming for this exhibition is supported in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Breidenthal-Snyder Foundation generously supports the Spencer Museum of Art venue.

detail: Composition by Max Ernst     detail: Composition by Francis Picabia     detail: Le jockey perdu (The Lost Jockey) by Renè Magritte     detail: Le cannibalisme des objets (The Cannibalism of Objects) by Salvador Dalì

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Brion Gysin: A Selection of Books and Works on Paper

February 19 – June 5, 2005 | South Balcony Gallery

Brion Gysin: A Selection of Books and Works on Paper is organized by Stephen Goddard, curator of prints and drawings at the Spencer Museum of Art with assistance from Spencer Museum intern Joanna Sternberg and Richard W. Clement, special collections librarian at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. The exhibition is offered in conjunction with the national traveling exhibition, The Invisible Revealed: Surrealist Drawings from the Drukier Collection, organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, which comes to the Spencer Museum of Art in April.

English-born painter and writer Gysin (1916-1986) is best known as the inventor of the "cut-up" technique that he pioneered with William S. Burroughs, and as the inventor of the hallucination-inducing "Dream Machine." His early works have much in common with the art of the surrealists, with whom he exhibited briefly in Paris in 1935 (only to have his works removed by André Breton). The exhibition includes books from the collection of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at KU and works on paper from the Spencer Museum of Art and the estate of William S. Burroughs. Special thanks to James Grauerholz of William Burroughs Communications for helping make this exhibition possible.

detail: Untitled (Another Goal!--for The Third Mind) by Brion Gysin     detail: Sky the Limit by Brion Gysin     detail: Untitled by Brion Gysin     detail: The Third Mind by Brion Gysin     detail: Olympia by Brion Gysin

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Transitions: KU Faculty Artists Explore Change

February 19 – May 22, 2005 | White Gallery

Sponsored By:
Douglas County Bank

In these early days of the 21st century, change often seems to move at such breakneck speed that we begin to grasp the present only as it is already vanishing and the next big thing is appearing. Attempting to keep pace with a dizzying flurry of shifts and swings--whether personal or global, private or public--we race past reflection and grapple for context. By thoughtfully considering change, however, we can better understand our world and ourselves. So it is that for the first-ever faculty exhibition at the Spencer--a collaborative endeavor pairing the museum with KU's School of Fine Arts--guest curator Elizabeth Dunbar selected the topic of "transitions." Dunbar, curator for the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, thought the exhibition's theme would be particularly timely given recent changes in KU's School of Fine Arts--with new faculty in the Department of Art and new leadership in the Department of Design--in the Spencer Museum of Art and, indeed, in the world at large.   As Dunbar notes, a working artist can interpret the idea of "transitions" in a variety of ways. For some, it could address a new direction in a continuing body of work. For others, it could concern a change in material, process or technique. For others still, it could relate to an underlying theme or concept for a specific piece or series. More than 20 KU faculty artists responded to the Spencer's call for submissions last fall, and from that group, Dunbar selected five artists for inclusion. She chose to focus on a smaller number of artists in order to investigate their work in more depth. "It was a really tough choice given the number of excellent proposals I reviewed," Dunbar says. "I settled on five artists that I think best represent the quality and diversity of the work being made in the School of Fine Arts." The artists are: Elissa Armstrong, Assistant Professor of Design (ceramics); Mary Anne Jordan, Associate Professor of Design (textiles); Michael Krueger, Associate Professor of Art (digital art, drawing, printmaking); Pok Chi Lau, Professor of Design (photography); and So Yeon Park, Assistant Professor of Art (expanded media).

The exhibition will include a modest gallery guide with an essay by Dunbar, illustrations and artists' biographical information.

detail: Oval, Rectangles, Rabbit by Elissa Armstrong     detail: Red Cross/White Plus by Mary Anne Jordan     detail: Clarina by Michael Krueger     detail: In Transition by So Yeon Park

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Tradition and Modernity: Japanese Art of the Early Twentieth Century

January 22 – May 22, 2005 | Asian Gallery

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Japan experienced many changes. During the first decades of the century, in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the country rapidly adopted Western models of education, politics and industrialization, and emerged as a more modern society after a long period of international isolation. Later, in the Taisho (1912- 26) and early Showa (1926-1989) periods, modernization was no longer simply the product of Western imitation, as the country rapidly became an international, industrial and urban society in its own right. Throughout these decades, complex tensions emerged between the desire to retain traditional cultural values and the desire to be a modern society. The complexity of early twentieth century Japanese society is revealed in its art, which selectively incorporates traditional and more modern modes of creation in a variety of formats, mediums, themes, and styles. Western art techniques, a flourishing export market, and a search for a new national identity that combined both tradition and modernity were some of the factors that shaped early twentieth century Japanese art.

This selection of works from the Spencer's collection broadly illustrates Japan's changing social climate of the early twentieth century and hopes to reveal the dynamic character of this period.

detail: Kyoto, Chion-in by Kawase Hasui     detail: Woman Seated by a Stream by Nakamura Daizaburo     detail: The Actor Ichimura Uzaemon XV as Iriya Naozamurai by Natori Shunsen     detail: Casket, iris handles by Unknown

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Tokyo: The Imperial Capital Woodblock prints by Koizumi Kishio, 1928-1940

February 5—March 20, 2005 | Kress Gallery

Sponsored By:
The World Company

Tokyo: The Imperial Capital is organized by The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida. This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Frederic A. and Jean S. Sharf. The Spencer Museum of Art venue is generously supported by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. At 11:58 a.m. on September 1, 1923, an earthquake struck Tokyo and eastern Japan with devastating force.   A vigorous rebuilding campaign restored the city and transformed it into what became known as the imperial capital.   One of the woodblock print artists who captured the drama of its rebirth was Koizumi Kishio (1893-1945), who created One Hundred Pictures of Great Tokyo in the Showa Era (Showa dai Tokyo hyakuzue) from 1928-1940.   This portfolio of Koizumi's prints sets the stage for an exhibition depicting the evolution of a key Asian city as it embraced modernity, maintained traditions, and became the backdrop for the militaristic ambitions of an empire. The images produced by Koizumi are a pantheon of impressive views, from modern facilities such as Haneda Airport to nostalgic renderings of revered ancient temples. On loan from The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, these prints provide a visual record of Tokyo's physical reconstruction and development and also chronicle the emergence of a country ready to compete politically and economically on an international stage.

Also included in the exhibition is a selection of Edo period (1615-1868) woodblock prints from the Spencer Museum of Art. Providing scenes of capital life prior to the city's reconstruction, these prints show specific locations within Tokyo, which Koizumi Kishio has depicted almost a century later, in a drastically different political and social climate. The various artists of these prints depicted their city as a relatively peaceful place, where the concern with social position and the world of fleeting desires took precedence over modernization and international relations.

detail: Asakusa Tori-no-Ichi Festival by Koizumi Kishio     detail: Anamori Inari Shrine at Haneda by Koizumi Kishio     detail: Kiyosumi Garden in Fukagawa by Koizumi Kishio     detail: Yamashita Entrance to Ueno Park by Koizumi Kishio

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Kansas Art Sampler

October 23—February 6, 2005 | White Gallery

Sponsored By:
Gould Evans

When Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stole a sand-colored Ford V-8 sedan from a private Topeka residence in 1934, little did they know it would be their last getaway car. Seventy years after Bonnie and Clyde met their violent end in rural Louisiana, Abilene artist Randy Regier offers the infamous vehicle in the form of a toy, complete with life-like blood, bullet holes, and packaging consistent with those used for model cars manufactured in the early to mid twentieth century.   Regier's interpretation of the bullet-riddled vehicle is part of A Kansas Art Sampler, on view in the Spencer's White Gallery from Oct. 23 through Feb.6, 2005. The exhibition highlights notable and visionary work either related to the state and its history, or produced by Kansas artists, and is organized in conjunction with Kansas Art and Culture, an art history course offered this fall by Professors Charles C. Eldredge and Charles M. Berg. The objects selected emphasize topics covered in the class, such as Bleeding Kansas, issues of race, environment and land use, as well as perceptions of the region. The exhibition includes loaned work by Regier and New York artist Joe Coleman, as well as recent acquisitions to the Spencer's collection by Robert Swain Gifford and Lisa Grossman.

detail: Bonnie & Clyde Car by Randy Regier     detail: Kansas by Richard Basil Mock     detail: Sunflowers by Birger Sandzén     detail: Samuel Dinsmoor. Eye of God. Garden of Eden. Lucas, Kansas by Earl Iversen     detail: Newsboy by John Philip Falter

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Diane Arbus: Family Albums

October 16—January 16, 2005 | Kress Gallery

In 1968, three years before her suicide, Diane Arbus wrote that she was compiling her photographs into a "family album," likening it to a "Noah's ark" and perhaps imagining in it the people who might be remembered and saved in the aftermath of the tumultuous 1960s. "Family," in Arbus' sense, consisted of people held together by all sorts of bonds, some traditional and others alternative, and deserving of special attention. Diane Arbus: Family Albums, organized by the Spencer Museum of Art and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Mass., re-examines Arbus' never-completed project and offers a glimpse into what such an album might have looked like. The exhibition will be on view in the Spencer's Kress Gallery from Oct. 16 through Jan. 16, before continuing on to several other venues in its national tour. Diane Arbus: Family Albums includes a large body of work never seen before publicly and promises to change the received view of the remarkable photographer. Arbus was interested in compiling expansive and metaphorical images of the 1960s family. The exhibition, then, culls from Arbus' work, as she never had the chance to do, a collective image of the family in a turbulent decade of American history. It presents traditional family groupings as well as alternative families/communities and "implied" families. The exhibition is augmented with printed materials from the 1960s and a major companion book published by Yale University Press, co-authored by the exhibition's organizers, John Pultz, Spencer curator of photography and associate professor of art history, and Anthony Lee, Mount Holyoke associate professor of art history. Their book has met with widespread critical acclaim--in December 2003 both Art and Auction and The New York Times Book Review included it on lists of the best photography books of the year. The Spencer holdings of Arbus' work consist primarily of photographs she took for Esquire magazine. These prints, many of which are accompanied by related proof sheets, show the photographer's broad range--and especially her interest in the family. Depicting children, couples, mothers, and fathers, they include public figures with their children (such as television's Ozzie and Harriet Nelson), and they also picture various people that Arbus fashioned as surrogate families.

The Mount Holyoke holdings result from a 1999 gift from alumna Gay Humphrey Matthaei (class of 1952). The gift consists of a collection of family portraits taken by Arbus in 1969. This cache was only a portion of a much larger body of work. The Matthaei family has a complete set of contact prints of the more than 300 pictures that Arbus took of them. Products of the largest, complete, single sitting available for scholarly scrutiny, these photographs provide an opportunity to explore Arbus' working methods in ways not previously possible.

detail: Ozzie and Harriet Nelson on their Lawn, L.A., CA. by Diane Arbus     detail: Brenda Diana Duff Frazier by Diane Arbus     detail: Untitled (Marcella Matthaei) by Diane Arbus     detail: Blaze Starr at home by Diane Arbus

Download a printable PDF containing programming for "Diane Arbus: Family Albums" (13 KB)
Listen to the KCUR Arts Roundup story
Read columnist Roger Martin's commentary
Read The Lawrence Journal World exhibition review
Read The Kansas City Star exhibition review
Read The New York Times exhibition review
Read The New York Times book review of the catalogue

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