Willem van Swanenburgh, Dutch, 1581/2-1616 Death with an arrow about to strike the man down, plate four from Allegory of the Misuse of Worldly Property, after Maarten van Heemskerck, 1609
8 1/2" x 6 1/4"
Dr. and Mrs. E. William Ewers Gift for Fine Arts Fund and Vanderbilt Art Association Acquisitiion Fund Purchase
Memento Mori - Looking at Death in Art and Illustration
(March 12 - May 23, 2015)
Drawing on the combined resources of Vanderbilt University’s Eskind Biomedical Library and Fine Arts Gallery collections, Memento Mori—Looking at Death in Art and Illustration 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 artwork attempts to create a greater understanding of the role of death and mourning throughout history—a topic that has become increasingly relevant as individuals and communities in the developed world seem to value controlling and delaying death, often unrealistically extending the process for the benefit of the living. Through this collaboration with the EBL’s special collections, the Fine Arts Gallery presents an interdisciplinary approach to our awareness of mortality from the fourteenth 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 which remind the viewer that, in contrast to the often impersonal experience of death today, the end of life in earlier times usually occurred at home, within 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 features works by artists such as Andreas Vesalius, Aegidius Sadeler II, Thomas Rowlandson, Hans Holbein, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Käthe Kollwitz, Stephen Tourlentes, and Enrique Chagoya.
Memento Mori—Looking at Death in Art and Illustration is organized by the Vanderbilt University 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. This exhibit is supported, in part, by the Ewers Gift for Fine Art, with additional support provided by the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University.
A Flexner Dean's Lecture titled "Memento Mori: Clinical and Historical Readings on Death in Art" will take place on Tuesday, April 14 at 12:00pm in 208 Light Hall in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Speakers will be John Sergent (School of Medicine), Leonard Folgarait (History of Art), and Holly Tucker (French Studies and Biomedical Ethics).
American Abstract Artists 75th Anniversary Print Portfolio
(January 15 - February 27, 2015) Closed Monday, January 19th for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
This spring, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery will host American Abstract Artists: AAA 75th Anniversary Print Portfolio, highlighting the American Abstract Artists group (AAA) that was founded in 1936 in New York City at a time when abstract art was not met with great acclaim. The AAA group has produced more than 120 exhibitions in museums and galleries and has print portfolios in major collections worldwide, including the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery.
The American Abstract Artists: AAA 75th Anniversary Print Portfolio exhibition consists of original works created for this project, all digital prints, and marks a willingness to endorse progressive technologies and to advance an artistic tradition. The resulting portfolio and exhibition reflect an awareness of changing artistic sensibilities in a contemporary and evolving digital era. The previous AAA print portfolios (1937, 1987, and 1997) were created using more traditional forms of printmaking such as lithography and other plate-based printing methods. The current president of AAA, Daniel G. Hill, explains that “the digital process enabled a wide variety of approaches that include abstract and documentary photography, scanning of flat-work made expressly for the project, digital compositing, and image manipulation, as well as the use of vector-based software and hand-coded algorithms.” Each print is original and has been individually signed, numbered, and dated by the artist.
The exhibition is organized by the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is accompanied by a catalogue that includes an introduction written by Robert Storr. A member of American Abstract Artists, Robert Storr is a painter, curator, and critic and the dean of the Yale School of Art.
I am Unbeatable–Documenting and Celebrating Stories of Empowerment–Photographs by Donna Ferrato
(September 12 - December 4, 2014)
Donna Ferrato’s groundbreaking documentary project, Living with the Enemy, serves as a context for framing her new campaign against domestic violence, I Am Unbeatable, which takes her social activism to a new level by focusing on survivors of domestic abuse. Through a storytelling partnership with acclaimed American journalist Alex Chadwick, best known for his work on National Public Radio, and Claudia Dowling, award-winning journalist for such publications as Life magazine, Time, and others, I Am Unbeatable is an exhibition, a grass-roots effort to support women who have escaped violent relationships, and a means to speak directly to young women and girls who have yet to declare themselves “unbeatable.”
The author of five books, Ferrato is a self-taught photographer who became a freelance photojournalist in 1976. She was based in Paris and Belgium until 1978 and traveled extensively in Europe and the United States throughout the late 1970s. She was hired by Japanese Playboy in 1982 to photograph couples who epitomized the wealthy American lifestyle of the early 1980s. After witnessing the husband of one of those couples brutally beat his wife, Ferrato embarked on an independent documentation of domestic violence in the United States.
For more than a decade, she traveled with police, lived in battered women’s shelters, camped out in emergency rooms, and stayed in maximum security prisons with women who were serving life sentences for killing their abusers in self-defense. Ferrato’s photographs on this subject were published in Life, The New York Times Magazine, Time, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and were aired on the television programs Dateline and Eye on America. The culmination of Ferrato’s domestic violence project came in 1991 with the publication of her book, Living with the Enemy, and the founding of the Domestic Abuse Awareness Project, which seeks to end violence against women and children through awareness, education, and action. From the year of its founding through 2009, the Domestic Abuse Awareness project produced exhibitions on domestic violence to raise money for women's shelters.
Sarah, a survivor of domestic violence, and her children are the subject of much of this exhibition. A short film on her family will premier at the opening and be shown continually thereafter in the Gallery.
This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Class of 2018 Commons Reading, Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward. I Am Unbeatable—Documenting and Celebrating Stories of Empowerment—Photographs by Donna Ferrato is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director.