Collage glues together numerous
Calder, The Only Only Bird
The Phillips Collection
© The Calder Foundation
Collage comes from the
French word “to glue” and, in the broadest sense,
means an assembly of diverse fragments or elements. In art, literature,
music and other disciplines, collage has been related to modernism
in a widespread way for more than 50 years.
Prompted by a unique partnership between the University of Virginia
and the Phillips Collection in Washington, collage will be looked
at from many perspectives in numerous academic courses, exhibitions,
programs, films, performances and events around Grounds this spring.
A major focus of the initiative is an exhibition of collage works
from the 1920s through 1960s at the U.Va. Art
Museum. “American Collage” features works on special
loan from the Phillips Collection, including those by Alexander
Caulder, Arthur B. Davies, Albert Eugene Gallatin and Robert Motherwell.
These will hang alongside collage works from the museum’s
permanent collection by Joseph Cornell, Conrad Marca-Relli, Louise
Nevelson, Adja Yunkers and Andy Warhol.
Gates, director of the Phillips, said, “American Collage”
is the first opportunity in which works from the Phillips Collection
can be the “kernel around which a wide variety of research
and academic discourse can take place.
“I am pleased that such a distinguished university and academics
are interested in talking about the kinds of things we are interested
in,” he said.
The U.Va. Art Museum’s leadership role in the initiative
is a reflection of its role as an interdisciplinary center on
Grounds, said Jill Hartz, the museum’s director. “Together,
works from the two collections show a history of American modernism.”
Matthew Affron, curator of the exhibit and assistant professor
of art history, shaped the exhibit with the goal of integrating
it into a new course for undergraduate art history and American
Studies students that he is co-teaching with Stephen Cushman,
English professor and director of the American Studies program.
“‘Collage’ breaks down traditional boundaries
and makes connections among people in the creative world,”
said Affron. “The worlds of visual arts and literature intersect
in compelling ways in the ’20s through the ’60s.”
The introduction of visual literacy and the language of collage
will develop a deeper experience and appreciation of what the
students are studying, Cushman said.
“One could say the whole [American Studies] major is a collage,”
he said. “Instead of approaching the curriculum vertically,
the program slices horizontally, touching on many disciplines,
including African-American studies, religious studies, the arts,
humanities, studies in women and gender, technology, the social
sciences as well as environmental sciences.”
The exhibit will also have an impact on other courses and outreach
programs related to education, film and video, and new media,
as well as the spring offerings of the Virginia Film Society.
Additionally, students from American Studies professor Alan Howard’s
fall class in Web design are working with the art museum to develop
a “virtual exhibit to survive the museum exhibit,”
said Howard. “It will be set up to be used as an educational
resource for teachers and others.”
Plans are already on the horizon for the next loan from the Phillips.
The collection’s leadership in research, education and digital
initiatives, closely parallels work being done by the University’s
undergraduate, graduate and faculty scholars; educational and
outreach programs; and the digital work at the Institute for Advanced
Technology in the Humanities – just some of the ways the
partnership will be strengthened, said College Dean Edward Ayers.
“I hope this is just the beginning of a long term and broad
relationship,” said Ayers.