Humanized Objects: Between Person and Thing
Exhibition in the Nasher Academic Focus Gallery
January 16 – March 6, 2016
The works displayed here (from a wide range of times and cultures) highlight the portrayal of the human figure in art and made objects, and probe the boundary between things and humans. They are organized into three overlapping thematic groupings: sacred objects, effigies, and functional objects. This installation was organized by Kati Henderson as part of her master’s project, Ambiguously Human, which considers the ways different disciplines, from visual art and philosophy to biology and computer science, define what is human as opposed to what is an object.
Open Storage: Duke faculty and students using the collection for learning
October 17, 2015 – January 2, 2016
The works located in this case reflect choices made by three Duke faculty members for use by their students over the course of this semester. Professor Elvira Vilches of Romance Studies is teaching a course, “Nature, Body, Mind: Chocolate and Tobacco in the Hispanic World and Beyond,” and the works selected for her course relate to the production and serving of cacao in the ancient Americas. Three archaeology courses focus on the ancient Mediterranean collection: “Classical Greek Archaeology” (art history professor Timothy Shea) and “Principles of Archaeology and the Archaeology of Death: Ritual and Social Structure in the Roman World” (classical studies professor Alicia Jimenez). Students in each of these courses were assigned to closely observe the objects, prepare detailed descriptions of them and write papers that provide context for them in the ancient world.
August 1-October 4, 2015
This installation was inspired by Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), the 2015 Common Experience summer reading book for incoming first-year students at Duke. The works on display here reflect themes found throughout Fun Home, including family, death, gender, sexuality, feminism, and identity. Members of the Duke community from a variety of academic and administrative departments have offered their personal reflections on some of the works. Their thoughts are shared in the following pages.
Merging the genres of comics and memoir, Fun Home follows Bechdel’s fraught relationship with her father, an English teacher and director of a small-town Pennsylvania funeral home. Alison and her family call the funeral home “Fun Home.” As a child, Alison struggles against expectations of how girls should dress and act. In college, she comes out as a lesbian. Shortly after telling her parents, her father is killed by a truck, and Alison discovers that he was a closeted gay man. She must then re-evaluate who she understood her father to be.
Seeing Color: Art, Vision, and the Brain
April 13 – July 5, 2015
Click images within lightbox to view in full.
Bringing together works of art that explore and exploit the neural mechanisms of the brain, this exhibition investigates the intersection between art and neuroscience, with an emphasis on color and luminance. Some works will ask you to confront the instability of visual perception. Others will challenge you to accept colors not physically present. Do you trust what you see?
Dissolving the Iron Curtain: Russian Artists in Dialogue with Modernism
January 10 – March 29, 2015
This installation was organized by Professor Pamela Kachurin’s fall 2014 class, “Soviet Art after Stalin.” Highlighting works by Russian artists both in the Soviet Union and abroad, Soviet and post-Soviet, this exhibition seeks to convey the impact Russian Modernism had on the revival of art after the death of Josef Stalin in 1953, and the impact it continues to have to this day.
Vision and Invention: Photographs from the Collection
October 25 – December 14, 2014
These photographs have been selected from the permanent collection by art history and visual studies Professor Patricia Leighten for the fall 2014 class History of Photography. Ranging from the mid-19th century through today, these photographs include a variety of subjects, photographic media, and techniques used by both American and international artists. The works will be studied by students over the course of the semester.
IMAGE ABOVE: Susan Harbage Page, Trail with Black Plastic Bags, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, Texas from the U.S. – Mexico Border Project, 2007. Archival pigment print, 42 x 42 inches (106.7 x 106.7 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Gift of the artist in honor of Emily Kass, 2014.8.3. © Susan Harbage Page.
July 12 – October 12, 2014
This installation was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah (2013), the 2014 Summer Reading book for incoming first-year students at Duke. Set in recent decades, this novel follows Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman, as she experiences school, work, and relationships in both Africa and America. Ifemelu, along with relatives and friends living abroad, navigates the complexities of being a stranger in a foreign land, as well as the frustration, joy, and relief of returning home after many years.
The works on display reflect a variety of cultures and time periods and explore themes found throughout Americanah, including identity, race, immigration, and American and African cultures. We invite you to use the works to consider these themes visually. Members of the Duke community from a variety of academic and administrative departments have offered their personal reflections on some of the works, which are included in the installation booklet.
Find more works related to Americanah in the exhibition Sound Vision, on view at the Nasher Museum through August 3, 2014.
IMAGE ABOVE: Lyle Ashton Harris, Blow Up II (Armory), Detail from the portfolio America: Now and Here, 2005 (printed 2009). Chromogenic print, 23 7/8 × 20 inches (60.6 × 50.8 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Ronald Francesco, 2013.15.1.12. © Lyle Ashton Harris.
Night in the City of Light: Paris’ Cabaret, 1881-1914
February 15 – June 29, 2014
Cabaret and café-concert culture in late 19th-century France captivated a new public and served as a site for creative exchange between visual artists, musicians, poets, dancers, and theatre performers. Cabarets, or cabarets artistiques, offered a variety of flashy spectacles including singers who performed their own songs, while at café-concerts the audience listened to singers recite popular melodies of the period. Both were awash in alcohol. A companion installation, Cheap Thrills: The Highs and Lows of Montmartre’s Cabaret Culture, 1881-1939 in the Perkins Gallery (February 18 – May 15, 2014) provides an additional overview of cabaret venues and famous performers.
These installations showcase important material from the Nasher Museum of Art and the David M. Rubenstein Rare Books and Manuscript Library, such as sheet music, posters, and illustrated periodicals. The auditory experience of the cabaret is reanimated by recordings of traditional cabaret songs newly arranged by Duke’s New Music Ensemble ([dnme]), which visitors can listen to in both installations. This music will also be presented live in a series of three [dnme] performances in the Von der Heyden Pavilion (February 21), Fullsteam Brewery (April 6), and Baldwin Auditorium (April 10).
These installations are the result of a collaboration between doctoral students in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Alexis Clark, Kathryn Desplanque, Emilie Anne-Yvonne Luse, and Laura Moure Cecchini, and doctoral students in music composition who participate in the Duke New Music Ensemble ([dnme]): Benito Crawford, D. Edward Davis, Timothy Hamburger, Jamie Keersecker, Dan Ruccia, and Vladimir Smirnov.
IMAGE ABOVE: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, French, L’Anglais au Moulin-Rouge (The Englishman at the Moulin Rouge), 1892. Lithograph on paper, 18 9/16 x 14 5/8 inches (47.1 x 37.1 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC. Bequest of Nancy Hanks, 1983.10.12. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.
Doris Duke: A Life Well Travelled
October 12, 2013 – February 2, 2014
The name Doris Duke is often synonymous with the glamorous yet eccentric and reclusive heiress whose life played out in the press. The archival materials in this installation, which are part of the Doris Duke Collection at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, reveal a much different and more complex story. Adventurous, intelligent, and independent, Doris Duke (1912-1993) was determined not to be defined by social expectations or her vast wealth. Throughout her life she continued her family’s innovative pattern of philanthropy, eagerly advocated for the protection of the environment, and pursued her lifelong passion as both a collector and patron of Islamic art. This installation includes documents from Doris’s childhood, audio recordings of Doris singing and playing piano, and reproductions of photographs taken throughout Doris’s life and travels.
IMAGE ABOVE: Doris Duke, Fort Sumter, South Carolina, 1930-1935. Photograph. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Let the Great World Spin
July 20 – October 6, 2013
This installation was inspired by Colum McCann’s novel Let the Great World Spin, the 2013 Summer Reading book for incoming first-year students at Duke. Set in New York City, the book follows the lives of several strangers who are all connected by one common experience: the real-life tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers by Philippe Petit in 1974. As the characters’ lives collide, we are reminded of the interconnectedness of our daily actions, past, present, and future. The artworks displayed reflected a variety of cultures and time periods and explore themes found throughout Let the Great World Spin, including balance, flight, city life, and the war in Vietnam.
Members of the Duke community from a variety of academic departments have offered their personal reflections on some of the works. Their thoughts are shared in the installation’s accompanying booklets.
THE BLACK ATLANTIC
May 21-July 7, 2013
This installation was organized by Professor Richard Powell’s Art History class “The Black Atlantic” as an educational counterpoint to the exhibition Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey previously on view at the Nasher Museum from March 21 through July 21.
View the image gallery for this installation.
THE SUBVERTED ICON: IMAGES OF POWER IN SOVIET ART (1970-1995)
October 13-December 23, 2012
These works offer representations of, and responses to, images of power in late and post-Soviet Russia (1970-1995). Focusing on three major institutions of Soviet culture—Communism, architecture, and the media—this exhibition explores the ways in which artists represented, confronted and challenged them through different styles and forms.
A number of the selected pieces address the Communist Party overtly; Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mikhail Gorbachev all appear in their most iconic forms. Other works approach politics more indirectly, raising related questions of culture, consumption, and economics. Architecture is represented both as a means to assert official power through the construction of state-sanctioned buildings, and as a means to flout it through the creation of alternative architectural worlds. Finally, whether through the incorporation of newsprint, advertising, or Hollywood film stars, many of these works also address the pervasiveness of mass media in Russia during this time. Far from rigid, these categories frequently overlap in the objects on display. The resulting interplay offers a glimpse of the cultural and political climate of this period in Russian history.
View the image gallery for this installation.
This installation was organized by Professor Pamela Kachurin’s class, ARTHIST289, 544/RUSSIAN355, 561: Soviet Art after Stalin.
STATE OF WONDER
August 4-October 7, 2012
For a second year, the Nasher Museum of Art is collaborating with Duke’s Office of New Student Programs to present an art installation accompanying the incoming freshmen summer reading book. This year’s selection, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (2011), is a novel that follows an American pharmacologist as she seeks out her former mentor developing a fertility drug in the heart of the Amazon. Over forty art works from the Nasher’s permanent collection, ranging from Ancient American ceramics to contemporary Chinese photography, explore themes such as maternity, bioethics, biodiversity, and post-colonialism.
The video above succinctly details the State of Wonder exhibition featuring Molly Boarati, the Nasher Museum’s Academic Program Assistant, and was produced by Duke’s Office of News and Communications.
LIFE IN CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY
March 10-July 29, 2012
Students and professors in three Duke classes– Archaic Greece (Professor Carla Antonaccio), Roman History (Professor Tolly Boatwright), and Representing Women in the Classical World(Professor Sheila Dillon)– are using these works, and others in the museum’s permanent collection, as material evidence for the cultural production and history of antiquity.
These objects are drawn from the two collections of antiquities held by the Nasher Museum. The Duke Classical Collection was begun by Duke’s Department of Classical Studies in the 1960s, and transferred to the university museum in the late 1990s. Most of the collection was published in A Generation of Antiquities: The Duke Classical Collection 1964-1994 by Professor Keith Stanley. The Kempner Collection, given to the museum in 2006 by Dr. Barbara Newborg, is documented in a new catalogue, The Past is Present: The Kempner Collection of Classical Antiquities at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, published in 2011.
The variety of materials, size, function, provenance and dates of these objects illuminates the rich complexity of the ancient world. These objects allow students first-hand experience with the material remnants of the ancient cultures they study.
THE PAST IS PRESENT
November 17, 2011-January 22, 2012
This installation was organized in conjunction with the publication of The Past is Present: The Kempner Collection of Classical Antiquities at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, a catalogue devoted to classical antiquities given to the museum in 2006 by Dr. Barbara Newborg.
This remarkable gift nearly doubled the Nasher Museum’s holdings in ancient art, including classical Greek, Etruscan and Roman works, and greatly enhanced the collection’s quality and variety. The Kempner Collection provides a broadened range of classical objects that allows the museum to serve its varied audiences. Duke students and faculty studying ancient art can do so at a much higher level than before. The collection also enriches the experiences of our visitors, including K-12 students, community members and visitors.
EATING ANIMALS: A THEMATIC INSTALLATION OF ART INSPIRED BY THE BOOK EATING ANIMALS BY JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER
August 18-October 16, 2011
For the first time, the Nasher Museum is collaborating with Duke Summer Reading and Duke Reads Online Book Club. An installation in the museum’s education gallery presents more than 30 works relating to Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals. The installation will challenge visitors–whether carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians or vegans–to think about what eating meat means to them. It includes works in a variety of media spanning more than 2,000 years. Find out more information about DukeReads.
IMAGE: Rosa Bonheur, “A Group of Six Sheep,” 19th century. Graphite on paper, 9 3/8 x 11 ½ inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of George and Alice Welsh, 2001.15.5.