An Era of Opportunity: Three Decades of Acquisitions is on view April 26 September 8, 2019, at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
, Vassar College.
The exhibition is a tribute to James Mundy (Vassar, class of 1974) upon his retirement after 28 years as the Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
Mundy assumed the role of director in 1991 in time to complete the planning of the Art Centers present building designed by Cesar Pelli, which opened its doors to visitors in 1993.
Organized by the curators of the Art Center, the special exhibition spotlights more than ninety drawings, prints, photographs, hanging and hand scrolls, sculptures, and paintings acquired over three decades, and encompasses art from across the geographic scope of the collection. A majority of works on view are light-sensitive and can only be shown for short periods of time, affording audiences a splendid chance to examine works from the museums vaults that are rarely seen except upon request or through classes. Indeed, drawings comprise almost half of the exhibition.
The art museum at Vassar College was established in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery with a large founding gift of 3,800 works of art from Matthew Vassar including Hudson River School paintings and British landscape drawings. From Mundys arrival in 1991 until his retirement in 2019, the holdings of the museum swelled from around 12,500 to over 21,000 works of art
While strategy has been central to Mundys thinking about museum acquisitions during these past decades, the exhibition emphasizes the dynamic role that opportunity has played in shaping the dramatic growth of the permanent collection of the museum under his stewardship. Throughout the show, labels spotlight his recollections, revealing anecdotal details behind the acquiring of many of the Art Centers most significant objects.
Arranged roughly chronologically, An Era of Opportunity begins with the twelfth century and an early, exceedingly rare print, called One Hundred Images of the Amida Buddha, installed among later Asian scrolls and sculpture. Moving through early Northern European art and fine European drawings and prints from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries - including a cache of Old Master Italian drawings, Mundys scholarly specialty and into twentieth-century and twenty-first-century art, the exhibition reflects the directors leadership in identifying and acquiring some of the greatest works of the museums permanent collection.