NEW HAVEN, CONN.- The Yale Center for British Art
announced the acquisition of a large-scale photograph by An-My Lê (Yale MFA 1993). Fragment II: Restoration of J. M. W. Turners Port Ruysdael, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, 2018, from the series Silent General, is an intriguing, behind-the-scenes image of the Centers Turner painting while it was being restored.
Impressive in its scale and ability to capture the painterliness of its subject, this photograph is the first work by a Yale School of Art alumna to enter the Centers collections, said Director Courtney J. Martin. Following the energy galvanized by the anniversaries of Yales coeducation in 201920, the Center has made a concerted effort to diversify our collections by including more women and artists of color and to support alums.
Lê, whose work has explored naval seascapes, was interested in the opportunity to see a Turner maritime scene undergoing restoration while she was visiting campus in 2017. I had no idea that her asking to photograph the painting on its easel was anything more than a desire to take some smartphone snaps. What fun it was when she showed up with a large-format view camera, film, and a studio assistant to make a formal study of our painting! said Mark Aronson, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator at the Center, and Chair of the Conservation Laboratory at Yales Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.
Working with US military coastal and marine activities, I have often been in a position to channel what is frequently referred to as a sublime experience. Turners seascapes have always been an inspiration in that aspect, said Lê. It was more than fitting to want to photograph Port Ruysdael as it was being restored. This experience also connected to my interest in labor, craftsmanship, as well as a certain reenactment.
The forty-by-fifty-six-and-a-half-inch-photograph is currently on tour in An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain, the first comprehensive survey of Lês work featuring more than 100 images from a selection of the artists major series. The nationally touring exhibition, organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art, considers the celebrated photographers nearly twenty-five-year-career exploring the edges of war and recording these landscapes of conflict in beautiful, classically composed photographs. Following the tour, the photograph will be exhibited alongside additional works by Turner in the Centers collection. It will also be incorporated into the Centers celebration of Turners 250th birthday in 2025.
Lê is a Vietnamese American photographer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Saigon in 1960, she and her family fled Vietnam in 1975, the final year of the Vietnam War, and settled in the United States as political refugees. Her photographs and films look at the impact, consequences, and representation of war, often framing a tension between the natural landscape and its violent transformation into battlegrounds. By blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, Lês photographs are multilayered and rich with meaning.
Lê graduated from Stanford University and received a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art. Since 1998, she has been affiliated with Bard College, where she is currently a professor in the Department of Photography. Among her many accolades, in 2012, she was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; in 2009, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award; and in 1997, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. She has had major solo exhibitions at museums worldwide, including the Museum Aan de Stroom, Antwerp, Belgium (2014); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006); and MoMA P.S.1, New York (2002).