This fall, Reynolda House Museum of American Art
and Wake Forest University will present an exhibition featuring contemporary art works by renowned artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Alex Katz from a collection developed entirely by Wake Forest students since 1963. Titled "Now/Then: A Journey in Collecting Contemporary Art at Wake Forest University," the exhibition captures significant trends and developments in contemporary art over the past half-century. It will run from October 31 through December 31, 2009 in the museum's Babcock Wing gallery.
Co-curated by Reynolda House Managing Curator Allison Slaby and Wake Forest University Assistant Professor of Art History John J. Curley, the exhibition includes selections from the Wake Forest University Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art, the University's premier art collection. Numbering more than 150 pieces by more than 100 different artists, the collection includes paintings, prints, drawings, photography and sculpture by such notable artists as Johns, Rauschenberg, Katz, Milton Avery, Kiki Smith, Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, Ellsworth Kelly, Adolph Gottlieb, Ben Shahn, Richard Diebenkorn, Collier Schorr and Do-Ho Suh.
"What at first seemed like a radical idea conceived in 1962 by students and faculty at Wake Forest ultimately led to the formation of this significant and wide-ranging collection," said Slaby. "An exhibition of this kind presents a significant opportunity to reveal the stories that objects have to tell about art history, about American history and about the ways that younger generations participate in the construction of our culture."
Every four years since 1963, a small group of Wake Forest students has taken a trip to New York City to purchase art. Under the direction of Wake Forest art department faculty members, the students spend several months prior to the trip researching the contemporary American art scene. In New York, they visit galleries and studios and devote hours to debating the merits of the pieces under consideration. Then, using university funds, they make their selections and add them to the Wake Forest Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art.
"Now/Then" will showcase the breadth and importance of the Student Union Collection by presenting four different models of organizing a collection: "Collecting Names," highlighting the best-known artists in the collection; "Collecting Styles," examining the tension between abstract and representational art since the 1960s; "Collecting History," focusing on the 1969 buying trip; and "Collecting Stories," documenting the memories of the student collectors and their advisors.
New works of art purchased on the Spring 2009 buying trip will be on view at the university's Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery during the same period "Now/Then" is on view at Reynolda House.