Yale Bulletin and Calendar

March 23, 2001Volume 29, Number 23

In addition to its displays of early American decorative arts, the Garvan installation was expanded to include more displays depicting the lifestyles the 20th century.

Galleries reopen in dramatically transformed space

The Galleries of American Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery will reopen in a dramatically transformed space on Saturday, March 24.

To celebrate the reopening, there will be a day-long program of tours, lectures and music -- all of which are free and open to the public.

This is the first major reinstallation of decorative arts since the Mabel Brady Garvan Galleries were created in 1973. It is also the first time since the south galleries opened in 1976 that the paintings and sculpture displays have been revamped.

Patricia Kane, curator of American decorative arts; Helen Cooper, the Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture; and their staff worked closely with designer Stephen Saitas, of New York and lighting designer Stephen Heffernan of Boulder, Colorado, to create a fresh presentation of Yale's renowned collections of American art.

The installation of the decorative arts, in particular, is designed to relate more closely to current art history teaching. As Edward S. Cooke, Jr., the Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts, notes, "The old Garvan installation, while well suited to teaching the Anglo arts of the colonial and early national periods, lacked the flexibility to introduce students and visitors to a systematic overview of 400 years of American decorative arts.

"The new installation," he points out, "provides that balanced perspective, giving equal weight to the 20th century as to the 17th and introducing Hispanic, Native American, and Dutch aspects of our material heritage."

One major change is the uncovering of columns and opening up of the skylight in the central court to restore the lofty design of architect Edgerton Swartwout's third-floor gallery, which was opened in 1928. It is here that paintings and sculpture are on display.

Visitors will enter the American galleries directly from the contemporary rooms -- where works by Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella are displayed -- and step back in time to see masterpieces by Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, George Bellows and others. Further along the gallery are works by Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer and Edwin Austin Abbey. At the end, visitors will find a group of 19th-century landscapes, genre paintings and sculpture.

The decorative arts collections, which now include considerably more 20th-century objects as well as Spanish and French colonial designs, are displayed in the surrounding rooms in close proximity to paintings and sculpture from the same period. One room, the Matrix Gallery, is reserved for small changing exhibitions, the first of which will focus on contemporary design by Yale alumni.

Works from the European Colonial and Federal periods are installed beyond the newly revealed sandstone columns. Here the two Branford Rooms, dating from the second half of the 18th century, show furniture, leisure activities and food customs of the period. Adjoining these room is the Trumbull Gallery where the history paintings and portraits by John Trumbull, the patriot-artist and founding benefactor of the Yale Art Gallery, will continue to reside, along with works by John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West and other artists of the period.

In addition, there two computer kiosks that make accessible to the visitor a wide range of data about objects in the collections.

The reconstruction and reinstallation of the American arts galleries was made possible by the following generous benefactors: Mrs. Alfred E. Bissell; Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Coyle '43 LL.B., Jerald Dillon Fessenden, '60 B.A., Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert H. Kinney, '53 B.A., '54 M.A., Jan and Frederick R. Mayer '50 B.A., Charles Nagel '23 B.A. '26 B.F.A.A., '28 M.F.A.A., Theodore E. Stebbins '60 B.A., Susan Ricci; Ellen and Stephen D. Susman '62 B.A.; Mr. and Mrs. Charles O. Wood III '60 B.S. and Mrs. Anthony N.B. Garvan.

The celebration of the galleries' reopening on March 24 will begin at 11 a.m. with a lecture by William Hosley, executive director of the Antiquarian and Landmark Society. He will present the Oswaldo Rodriquez Roque Memorial Lecture in American Art on the topic "Art in America: Reflections on Context, Connoisseurship, and Patriotism in the American Museum." This will be followed by a noon reception in the Sculpture Hall.

Yale Undergraduate Gallery Guides will give informal talks on works of art in the American galleries 2-4:30 p.m. and the Artemis Quartet will play American music spanning three centuries 3-4:30 p.m.

Later that week, Helen Cooper and Patricia Kane will present talks titled "Why We Planned It This Way: An Introductory Tour of the New Galleries of American Art," at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, and at noon on Thursday, March 29.

Other events celebrating the renovated galleries will take place over the next few weeks. Watch the Yale Bulletin & Calendar for details.

The Yale University Art Gallery, located at Chapel and York streets, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free for individuals; groups should call (203) 432-8459 for information about fees and to make a reservation. An entrance for persons using wheelchairs is at 201 York St., with an unmetered parking space nearby on York Street. For information, call (203) 432-0606. For further information, (203) 432 ­0600 or visit the gallery's website www.yale.edu/artgallery


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