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Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Detroit Institute of Arts collaborate to present a new exhibition
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926). Rounded Flower Bed, 1876. Oil on canvas, 23 3/8 x 32 x 11/16 inches (59.3 x 81.3). Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase, 21.71. Image courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts.

BUFFALO, NY.- The Albright-Knox Art Gallery opened a new exhibition titled Humble and Human: Treasures from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Detroit Institute of Arts: An Exhibition in Honor of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Co-organized with the Detroit Institute of Arts, the exhibition is being hosted at the Albright-Knox through May 26, 2019, and will then open in Detroit on June 23, 2019, and remain on view through October 13, 2019.

A testament to the power of collaboration among artists, museums, and cities, the exhibition explores the pioneering work of leading Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists, including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Berthe Morisot. It also celebrates the life and vision of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., who saw in the art of these late nineteenth-century avant-gardists, especially that of Claude Monet, evocations of values and ideas that were close to his own heart, capturing the ephemerality of the everyday experience while dignifying hard work, simple pleasures, and ordinary people. During his lifetime, Mr. Wilson amassed a small but impressive collection of paintings by Impressionist artists.

In Humble and Human: Treasures from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Detroit Institute of Arts, a selection of more than forty Impressionist and post-Impressionist treasures from the Albright-Knox and the Detroit Institute of Arts traces the arc of a period that elevated the irreducible beauty of the everyday to the status of fine art. On the hundredth anniversary of Mr. Wilson’s birth, both institutions are proud to celebrate these extraordinary works and Mr. Wilson’s legacy as a philanthropist, business leader, and advocate for the citizens of Detroit and Buffalo.

“We are delighted to present this exhibition in honor of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., a leader who had a transformative impact on the cities he called home,” said Janne Sirén, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox. “Mr. Wilson loved Buffalo and Detroit and dedicated his legacy to improving the lives of residents in both cities—the effects of which we will see for decades to come. Humble and Human, the exhibition we have produced together with our amazing partners at the Detroit Institute of Arts, celebrates an extraordinary individual, his generosity, and his humility.”

“Mr. Wilson greatly admired Monet and eventually grew to embrace other artists from this period. He recognized in their works a meaningfulness that wasn’t necessarily apparent to the casual observer,” said Holly E. Hughes, Albright-Knox Godin-Spaulding Curator & Curator for the Collection. “We are proud to honor this legacy by sharing art from the genre that he treasured with the cities that he loved.”

“When I first met Ralph Wilson and viewed his collection at his home, I was impressed by his kindness and his authentic love for his paintings. He showed a rare sensibility, a natural eye for beautiful things,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, Detroit Institute of Arts Director, President & CEO. “This exhibition celebrates Mr. Wilson's life and will be a unique opportunity for our visitors to experience an extraordinary collection of Impressionist works in new ways. Furthermore, this show brings Detroit and Buffalo closer together, establishing an unprecedented collaboration between two of the greatest museums in the country for the benefit of our communities. We are grateful to present our collections in his honor and to help our visitors make new personal connections with some of the most beautiful artworks and our region’s history.”

“We are thrilled to bring together masterpieces from our two wonderful collections to share an amplified story of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art with the Detroit and Buffalo audiences,” said Jill Shaw, Rebecca A. Boylan and Thomas W. Sidlik Curator of European Art, 1850–1970 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “Our collaboration—inspired by the spirit of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., and the art that he loved—is a testament to the strong collecting tradition of the Great Lakes region and America more broadly.”

“Ralph would have been thrilled that his love of Monet and Impressionist art is bringing together these two great cities and two incredible cultural institutions for this special exhibition,” said Mary Wilson, widow of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and life trustee, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “Now the communities he loved will have the opportunity to enjoy and connect with the style of art that brought him so much joy during his life.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color catalogue, which includes an essay written by Richard R. Brettell, a leading scholar on Impressionism and French painting of the period 1830–1930 and Founding Director of The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Humble and Human: Treasures from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Detroit Institute of Arts: An Exhibition in Honor of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., was co-organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Detroit Institute of Arts in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Mr. Wilson’s birth. The exhibition and catalogue have been generously underwritten by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

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