December 10, 1998
Vol. 18 No. 6

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    Smart Museum acquires three masterpieces

    By Theresa Carson
    News Office

    An anonymous collector has temporarily entrusted three contemporary masterpieces to The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art. The works––paintings by Andy Warhol and Georg Baselitz and a sculpture by Alexander Calder––are currently on display in the Smart’s galleries until Jan. 10.

    “Not only will University faculty and students be able to view works by these major artists, but so will children,” said Kimerly Rorschach, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. “We are incorporating these works into our MusArts and Docent for a Day programs.”

    MusArts teaches music and art to middle school students, and Docent for Day incorporates the museum’s collection into a sequential learning unit about art history and the elements of art. The three contemporary pieces of art will give students much to ponder.

    Calder’s wire sculpture titled Portrait of Dr. Hans Curtis was shaped in 1929. It is a prime example of the artist’s playful, calligraphic style, Rorschach said.

    In 1965, Baselitz painted Ludwig Richter on His Way to Work. Baselitz’s painting displays a precocious, neo-expressionistic style, according to Rorschach.

    “It combines the tradition of American abstract expressionism with German expressionism of the early years of the century,” she said. “During this period, artists chose to free themselves of academic conventions. Instead, they were influenced by so-called ‘primitive’ art and personal observations.”

    Warhol painted Self Portrait in 1986, shortly before his death. “Throughout his life, Andy Warhol presented himself in different guises. He used wigs, makeup and costumes to create a particular persona for himself, which is documented here,” Rorschach said.

    Although Warhol’s pose is calculated, it is also informal, and the painting’s composition puts the viewer off balance, said Rorschach. “The painting leads you to question the definition of portrait.”

    Through Jan. 10, museum visitors also will be able to see the exhibition Weimar Bodies: Fantasies about the Sexualized Body in Weimar Art, Science and Medicine, which juxtaposes Weimar-period art with medical and scientific drawings.

    This exhibit was organized by former Smart Museum Curator Stephanie D’Alessandro, who currently is a Mellon curatorial fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Sander Gilman, Chairman in the Germanic Studies Department at the University and the Henry R. Luce Distinguished Service Professor in the Liberal Arts in Human Biology.

    Admission to the museum and the special exhibits is free. The Smart Museum is at 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.

    Free parking is available on the corner of Greenwood Avenue and 55th Street on weekends and after 4 p.m. on weekdays.

    More information is at (773) 702-0200 or at the Smart’s Web site at http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu.