In between tailgates, Harvard-Yale “bonding” events and, oh yeah, The Game, Yalies, Cantabs and other visitors may want to take a moment to visit one of Yale’s current art exhibitions. Because there are so many and only so many unoccupied (read: sober) hours in the day this coming weekend, scene recommends our favorites:
1. “Postwar Avant-Garde and the Culture of Protest 1945 to 1968 and Beyond” at the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library is way more than a collection of dusty old books with moldy pages and cracked spines. Curators Timothy Young and Kevin Repp have transformed the Beinecke into a hotbed of revolution, displaying red and black posters from the 1968 student protests in Paris alongside original manuscripts from Guy Debord and revolutionary pamphlets and magazines. The exhibition tracks the evolution of avant-garde thought from the years immediately following World War II and leading up to the 1968 protests in Paris on the ground floor of the library. The mezzanine level features neon-colored copies of English counter-culture magazine “Oz,” original Barbarella cartoons and anarchist publications. Viva la revolucion!
2. The portraits and silhouettes exhibited in “Mrs. Delany and her Circle” at the Yale Center for British Art are not the finest works of art every produced. But Mrs. Delany’s collages and embroidery, the heart of the exhibition, are extraordinary pieces that reveal both the talent and obsession of this 18th-century woman of fashion. The intricately detailed and amazingly preserved fabrics feature complex patterns of life-like flowers, while Delany’s delicate collages serve as both artistic and botanical records of the time. Perhaps the highlight of the exhibition is contemporary artist Jane Wildgoose’s installation entitled “Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship & the Order of Things,” a commemoration of the friendship between Mary Delany and the Duchess of Portland. The installation, created specifically for the exhibition, presents an interpretation of the Duchess’s “Portland Museum,” a collection of natural history specimens and other objects.
3. In “Continuous Present” at the Yale University Art Gallery, Curator Jennifer Gross brings together the work of 11 different contemporary artists who have seemingly little in common. The pieces on display range from a series of ghost-like photographs of clowns by Roni Horn, to Rodney Graham’s video depicting the interactions between two archetypal figures, to a group of On Kawara “date paintings” from his Today series. Perhaps the most striking piece of the exhibition is Franz West’s “The Monster of the Black Lagoon,” three brightly colored and oddly shaped papier-mâché sculptures. According to the exhibition brochure, the artists chosen for the exhibition “reflect the capacity of art to profoundly reposition our physical and intellectual engagement with the world around us.” Think about that one for a while.
4. But wait — there’s more! Other exhibitions currently on view include “The Pull of Experiment: Postwar American Printmaking” at the Yale University Art Gallery, which features prints from the 1940s to the 1960s, and “Horace Wapole’s Strawberry Hill” at the Yale Center for British Art, which brings together the collection of rare books, paintings, furniture, armor and other curiosities from Wapole’s historic Strawberry Hill home along the Thames. The Whitney Humanities Center currently features an exhibition called “Who Knew?” with paintings by Yale professors Hazel Carby, Paul Fry, Richard Lalli MUS ’86 and John Loge.
As if further proof that Yale > Harvard were needed, Yale once again trumps its Crimson rivals in the art world. Like the Yale University Art Gallery, the Harvard Art Museum is undergoing a massive renovation that began last month. But while Yale’s will be completed by 2012 (so at least the freshmen can see the completed space), Harvard’s won’t be done until 2013, effectively meaning that current Harvardians have to face the construction without any benefit whatsoever. Bummer.
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