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February Issue 2005

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Shows Off Kress Collection of Old Masters

During the year of 2005, the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, will offer programs by noted scholars and art installations that highlight the museum's world-renowned Samuel H. Kress Collection of Renaissance and Baroque art by the Old Masters. These programs are designed to enhance the appreciation of the Renaissance art in the museum's collection, as well as to expand the general understanding of this important period in the history of art. The museum has one of the most significant holdings of the Kress Collection outside of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The exhibition, Year of the Renaissance: Work from the Permanent Collection, will be on view in the Museum's Focus Gallery 1, SouthTrust Bank Gallery, Through June 12, 2005.

Among the Renaissance scholars that will be presenting lecture series and gallery talks are: Dr. Charles Mack and Dr. Carlton Hughes of the University of South Carolina's Department of Art, Frank Martin director of the South Carolina State University's I.P. Stanback Museum in Orangeburg, SC, and the Columbia Museum of Art's new chief curator and former Kress Fellow at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Dr. Todd Herman.

From the mid-1920s to the end of the 1950s, Samuel Henry Kress (1863-1955) and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, established in 1929, amassed one of the most superb collections of European old master paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts ever assembled through the efforts of an individual. The manner in which the Kress Collection was shared with the American people was remarkable. Eighteen hundred works of art were donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. All of the rest - another 1,300 pieces - was distributed across the United States. These Kress regional collections brought the first Italian paintings to communities where Kress five- and ten-cent stores served the public. The Columbia Museum of Art is the beneficiary of 77 works including paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles and bronzes.

Among the Columbia Museum of Art's renowned collection are masterpieces including a large and rare Nativity fresco transferred to canvas from 1475-1480 by Sandro Botticelli, a pre-eminent Florentine Renaissance artist; a tondo (circular painting) by Fra Bartolommeo and Mariotto Albertinelli from c. 1510; a large painting of the Immaculate Conception from 1637 by Jusepe de Ribera that is on loan to the Vatican Museums for the spring of 2005; and a trio of fine 18th-century paintings by Venetian artists, Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto and Francesco Guardi. Renaissance and Baroque decorative arts are also in the museum's permanent collection and include an elaborately carved wood marriage cassone or chest from c. 1525.

The Museum is offering the following related programs, including:

Year of the Renaissance Lecture Series:
Understanding the Renaissance with Dr. Charles R. Mack, Sundays at 2pm. In these illustrated lectures, Dr. Mack sets the art works of the Renaissance against the philosophical, historical and literary background of this fascinating period in western civilization and weaves a thematic story throughout the series. The presentations demonstrate how such seemingly diverse events as Columbus' voyages of discovery, the creation of linear perspective, the theological message of St. Francis of Assisi and even double-entry bookkeeping are all part of a single unifying image that typifies the overall vision of Renaissance Europe. The schedule includes: Feb. 13 - Virtual Reality; Feb. 27 - Means to the End; Mar. 20 - Manifest Miracle; Apr. 3 - Space Transcended; and Apr. 17 - Transmittal and Conclusion.

The lectures are 50 minutes and free with museum membership or admission.

Dr. Charles R. Mack has spent more than three decades teaching art history as the William Joseph Todd Chair of the Italian Renaissance and the Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina's Department of Art. Over the years, he has been a great supporter of the museum as lecturer, collections committee member, guest curator and scholar. It is in honor of his contribution and in celebration of his life's work on the eve of his retirement that the museum is embarking upon this yearlong celebration of the Renaissance.

Feb. 25, 2005, 6:30pm - Gallery Talks - Symbols, Saints, and Sinners - Frank Martin, curator of collections and exhibitions of South Carolina State University's I. P. Stanback Museum provides an in-depth exploration of the symbolic language of old master paintings from the museum's Renaissance collection. Dr. Martin, a Yale graduate, was previously a lecturer and associate director of educational services for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Free with museum membership or admission.

Feb. 10, 2005, 10-11:15am - Art Breaks - The Italian Renaissance. Join other art lovers on the second Thursday of the month for refreshments, lively discussion, and a guided tour of selected galleries. Free with museum membership or admission.

For more information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or at (www.columbiamuseum.org).

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