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Building The Contemporary Collection: Five Years Of Acquisitions

From the Collection

March 10 – August 14, 2011
A visitor pauses to look at a work by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Tambourine. Photo by J Caldwell.

In its first five years, the Nasher Museum focused on collecting modern and contemporary art with particular emphasis on global, emerging artists of color. Building the Contemporary Collection, in celebration of the museum’s fifth anniversary, presented the most important contemporary works acquired since its founding in 2005. The exhibition featured work by 42 artists, including Christian Boltanski, William Cordova, Noah Davis, Rineke Dijkstra, Marlene Dumas, Wyatt Gallery, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Glenn Ligon, Christian Marclay, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Odili Donald Odita, Dan Perjovschi, Dario Robleto, David Salle, Carolee Schneemann, Gary Simmons, Xaviera Simmons, Jeff Sonhouse, Eve Sussman, Alma Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Bob Thompson, Kara Walker, Jeff Whetstone, Kehinde Wiley, Fred Wilson and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, among others.

The exhibition reflected the museum’s interest in the art and culture of the African diaspora, and included works in a variety of media–painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, video and installation. The exhibition opening event featured a talk with artists Barkley L. Hendricks and Mickalene Thomas and collector Jason Rubell, Duke graduate and member of the Nasher Museum’s national Board of Advisors, moderated by Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker.

As an art history student in North Carolina, contemporary art—messy term that it is—often seemed far off and impenetrable. Of course there are the many art publications that document art, but there is still a removal at play in all of those. At the Nasher, it seemed tangible, available, and alive. More than any hijinks or anecdote, what stands out to me is a spirit of openness and kindness among the people who make, inhabit and exhibit at the Nasher, who made a world of art attainable at Duke, in Durham and far beyond.

Andrew Hibbard, T’11
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