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Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye (February 25 – August 30, 2009)
Director Lawrence Rinder looks to the museum’s extensive collection for the first exhibition he has curated since returning to BAM/PFA
Berkeley, CA, February 2, 2009 — (Download a PDF version of this press release.) The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye, an exhibition showcasing the depth and diversity of the Berkeley Art Museum’s permanent collection. Curated by BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder, Galaxy is the first exhibition Rinder has put together since returning to the museum in July 2008. Rinder worked as a curator at BAM/PFA from 1988 to 1998, during which time he became intimately familiar with—and passionate about—the museum’s collection. Assisting with Galaxy is Curatorial Associate Stephanie Cannizzo, whose deep knowledge of the collection complements Rinder’s and accounts for the significant additions to the collection in the decade since Rinder’s departure. Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye opens February 25 and runs through August 30, 2009.
Rinder calls Galaxy “a very personal exploration of the BAM collection.” It includes works by major artists such as D-L Alvarez, John Baldessari, Romare Bearden, Paul Gauguin, Zoe Leonard, René Magritte, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Sir Peter Paul Rubens. One of the exhibition’s diverse and rich segments is a stellar array of drawings that date from the early sixteenth century to the first decade of the twenty-first. With a steady yet light touch of graphite, ink, or charcoal, artists have transformed once blank sheets of paper into pictures of blossoms bending, cupids playing, Christ praying, a female figure flying, and a Study for Queer Mysteries. These drawings—and a host of others, including works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Egon Schiele, Willem de Kooning, Louise Bourgeois, Barry McGee, and Ajit Chauhan—are part of Galaxy’s greater constellation of artworks in varied media.
Describing the philosophy behind the exhibition, Rinder said “There is nothing quite like looking through a museum’s collection in storage, where the art—often stripped of its honorific framing and flattering lighting—becomes a vulnerable thing, but also extremely potent in its raw, unglamorized presence. In storage, too, the works are not arranged chronologically or thematically, which makes possible the experience of many unexpected, often jarring, and occasionally illuminating juxtapositions. I have tried to preserve this sense of fortuitous association in arranging the current show. Not all of my favorites are on view, but these are all works that I love and want to know better.” Explaining the origin of the exhibition’s title, Rinder said: “The stars that are visible in the night sky represent only a small corner of our own relatively modest galaxy; yet they provide for an experience of unfathomable wonder . . . and they will always be there.”
In addition to showing Rinder’s taste and sensibility, the exhibition reflects the particular evolution of the museum’s permanent collection. When the museum was founded in 1963, it inherited, among other things, several nineteenth-century landscapes by artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Théodore Rousseau, which were donated to the University decades earlier by Henry D. Bacon and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, respectively. The museum’s founding was also made possible by the donation of forty-seven of his own canvases by the Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann. So, from the start, BAM/PFA’s collection expressed the interests and imperatives of diverse cultural moments. Additionally, the museum’s first director, Peter Selz, acquired works by artists who were considered at the time to be relatively untested, thus setting the tone for future acquisitions of contemporary works by emerging artists. This approach has enabled the museum to acquire major pieces by artists such as Luc Tuymans, Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, Catherine Opie, and John Zurier well before they achieved their current renown.
The BAM collection has a number of other strengths that are the result of its unique institutional history and the special passions of its staff and admirers. These strengths include Old Master prints and drawings; photographs, including many rare daguerreotypes; Ming and Ching dynasty Chinese painting; and Conceptual art.
Curator’s Talk – Lawrence Rinder
Thursday, February 26, 12:15 p.m.
Lawrence Rinder offers his personal take on works from the BAM collection.
Programs at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Packard Humanities Institute, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, The Christensen Fund, and other private foundations, corporations, government agencies, and individuals, including the BAM/PFA membership. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George Gund III.
About UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, Bay Area community, and beyond. BAM/PFA is one of the largest university art museums in the United States in terms of attendance, presenting fifteen art exhibitions and 450 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of more than 15,000 works includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, as well as historical and contemporary Asian art, early American painting, Conceptual and contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The PFA film and video collection now includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silents, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.
Gallery and Museum Store Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Admission: General admission is $8; admission for seniors, disabled persons, non-UC Berkeley students, and young adults (13 – 17) is $5; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty, and children under 12 is free; admission for group tours is $3 per person (to arrange a group tour, call (510) 642-5188). Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.
Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; FAX (510) 642-4889; TDD: (510) 642-8734