The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia has inspired generations of students who have pursued their careers in the art world, becoming successful artists, curators, collectors and gallery owners, or simply cultivating a love of art for life.
In turn, many of these alumni have given back to the museum by donating works from their personal collections to strengthen Fralin’s permanent collection and help inspire the next generation of students.
“As an educational museum, our main mission is to bring students in direct contact with great works of art, because we believe that there is value and an understanding of history, culture and humanity that can only truly come from this experience of being in direct relation to the art object, âsaid Matthew McLendon, director of the J. Sanford Miller family of the museum.
âIt is the understanding that I think many of our former students who donate works to the permanent collection [have] – that not only will these works be cared for according to the highest professional standards, but that they will have a very important life for the University which has given them so much.
Here are three examples of how past donors carried out this mission.
Dutch masterpieces by a passionate collector
Michael Ripps, a 2004 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences and dealer in âOld Mastersâ paintings, recently donated two Dutch paintings from the Golden Age, one by Nicolaes Knuepfer (1609-1655) in honor of professor of art history Lawrence. Goedde, and a second by Esaias van de Velde (1587-1630) in honor of the emeritus professor of history HC Erik Midelfort.
Ripps described both Goedde and Midelfort as having a profound impact on his intellectual and professional journeys.
Ripps said: âI donated the paintings to give students the opportunity to study more paintings by Dutch Old Masters at the University itself, and in the hope of encouraging other alumni to donate paintings to the museum – and also consider acting as benefactors for future alumni. acquisitions of masters who could create a strong teaching collection in Charlottesville.
“Learn art from slides [in a] PowerPoint is good, but learning art from objects is better, âhe added.
Ripps’ vision fits well with Cynthia and W. Heywood Fralin’s mission for the museum that bears their name, McLendon said.
âOne of my great joys is to take a tour of their collection with [the Fralins] because they will stop at each painting, they will tell the story of the artist, they will tell you why the painting is important to the artist, then they will tell you why they like the painting and why they decided to acquire for the collection, âMcLendon said,â and they always end with what that will mean for students when it comes to the museum. “
A special gift in honor of UVA’s first female president
Sue Scott Stanley, who received an MA in Art History from AVU in 1982, is a member of the Advisory Board of The Fralin and was the owner of the Sue Scott Gallery in New York from 2008 to 2012. She co-published two books, “After the Revolution: Women Who Have Transformed Contemporary Art” and “The Reckoning: Women Artists of the New Millennium”, in collaboration with three other women. They are currently working on a third.
In honor of AVU President Emerita Teresa Sullivan, Scott and her husband Mike donated a large painting by recent Guggenheim Fellow Suzanne McClelland entitled “Blind Contour (Supine Spot)”. Scott and McLendon both vouched for the poignant nature of the gift: a former student donated a work by a female artist, in honor of the University’s first female president.
The painting was first shown at the Scott Gallery as part of McClelland’s 2009 exhibition “Put Me In The Zoo”, based on Robert Lopshire’s children’s book. Each of McClelland’s pieces in this exhibit were inspired by the antics of the mismatched animal in the story trying to find its place in the zoo.
“In some ways, [McClelland], in the past, said it was analogous to the performative role of the artist, âScott said. “Maybe like Jackson Pollock, who performed when he painted, or performance artists and artists whose work can be considered performance.”
Scott is excited about the educational opportunities this job has to offer students of all ages. From young children who read the book to art students studying âblind outlines,â she believes there are endless possibilities for incorporating this piece into the museum.
“If you have a local museum or a university museum, and you have the opportunity for students to come in and see a painting by an artist who has just won a prestigious award like the Guggenheim, who is active and working, who continues to be recognized by his peers is important, âsaid Scott.
Scott’s gifts have been featured in two exhibitions at the Pine Gallery at Fralin. This is McClelland’s second work that Stanley donates to The Fralin. The first, âLullaby # 57 Gabriel at Liftoffâ, a monotype and collage on paper, was donated by his gallery to the museum in 2006. âBlind Contoursâ is now on display in the museum’s entrance gallery.
âIt’s a vibrant and wonderful painting that I know our visitors will appreciate and will also enjoy learning more about Suzanne McClelland’s important career,â said McLendon.
Two paintings by Joan Mitchell on display in Charlottesville
When Kristen Chiacchia, curator at the Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville, began to think about mounting an exhibition of painters inspired by the work of the famous 20eAbstract expressionist artist of the century Joan Mitchell, she knew she wanted to find an original Mitchell piece to present alongside the five contemporary female artists.
Fortunately for Chiacchia, The Fralin holds several works by Mitchell in its permanent collection and has agreed to loan the paintings to the Second Street Gallery for the first time to complete the exhibition, titled “Lady Painters”.
Mitchell’s paintings were donated to The Fralin by another AVU alumnus, the late Alan Groh. Originally from Virginia, Groh and his partner, acclaimed Broadway dancer Buzz Miller, donated their collection of 20e– contemporary art of the century, which also includes works by Andy Warhol, Paul Thek and Marisol Escobar, at the UVA museum.
âHe was another alumnus of the University who entered the art world and played a very important role in the mid-1920s.e– century of art, âsaid McLendon. “[Groh] Really understood, by donating works to his alma mater’s museum, his legacy could continue in perpetuity.
Mitchell’s two paintings featured in the exhibit both date from 1957, painted while Mitchell was living in New York City. Chiacchia has described this year as one of the most important in Mitchell’s career.
An ironically self-proclaimed âlady painter,â Mitchell did not want to see herself as part of any particular movement, although technically she was part of the second generation of abstract expressionists. She stands out from other famous Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock due to her use of intentional brushstrokes and a slower process.
Chiacchia said, “When you think of a painter like Joan Mitchell, you will only see [her] in places like [Museum of Modern Art], the Tate [Modern gallery in London] or the [Virginia Museum of Fine Arts], but you don’t expect to walk into your local gallery next to the downtown mall and get a chance to see an artist like this. â
Chiacchia carefully monitored the temperature, humidity, and lighting of the Second Street Gallery, a space right next to the downtown mall, to ensure Mitchell’s paintings were on display beautifully and safely. She believes that Fralin’s confidence in her and the gallery’s reputation will create a bridge between the two institutions and the local community, and hopes to exhibit more of the museum’s work in the future.
Find the opening hours of the Second Street Gallery here and the opening hours of the Fralin Art Museum here. The Joan Mitchell exhibit recently closed on Second Street, but more exhibits are on the way.