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May 2011

Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, NC, Offers Several Exhibits Featuring Works by European Artists & MFA’s

Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, NC, is presenting two new exhibits including: De-Natured: German Art from Joseph Beuys to Martin Kippenberger - Selections from the Collection of James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach and Romantic Dreams/Rude Awakenings: Northern European Prints and Drawings, 1840–1940. Both exhibitions are on view through July 10, 2011. The Museum is also presenting the exhibit, New Currents in Contemporary Art: MFA 2011 - UNC-Chapel Hill Master of Fine Arts Exhibition, on view through May 8, 2011.

Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Hanne Darboven, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, and Martin Kippenberger. For these artists, representation, authenticity, and history are all fractured, problematic, and “de-natured.” Their artworks - sometimes surprising, often challenging - established the international relevance and resonance of contemporary German art. Drawn from a distinguished private collection and supplemented with pieces from the Ackland, the nearly 40 works in De-Natured present a complex and compelling introduction to the notable efflorescence of art in post-war Germany.

Rendering nondescript objects in his signature material of felt, Beuys addresses the profoundest questions of society and creativity. Richter’s astonishingly beautiful and assured works in oil, photography, print media and drawing, investigate the problems of representation and aesthetic experience. Darboven’s methodical pictorial counting and writing proves confoundingly persuasive in the face of apparent tedium and repetitiveness. The Bechers’ cool photographs inventorying industrial structures established an entire school of recent German photography exploiting similar “objective” effects (including Gursky, Ruff, and Struth). Polke’s seemingly random image combinations and technical experimentation, along with Kippenberger’s irreverent and self-referential drawing, introduce an anarchic expressivity into the mix.

Organized by Peter Nisbet, Chief Curator, Ackland Art Museum. De-Natured was made possible by James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, and by the William Hayes Ackland Trust.

Artists living in Germany and its neighboring countries during the century 1840–1940 experienced massive social upheaval and political unrest, an environment that dramatically informed their art. Throughout this extended period of tumult, German artists consistently produced alternating and opposing images of idealized fantasy worlds and intense, often bitter observations of reality. The continuity that exists between strains of nineteenth and early twentieth-century art is evident in Romantic Dreams/Rude Awakenings: Northern European Prints and Drawings, 1840–1940.

The exhibition begins with late Romanticism and Symbolism, both movements expressive of human consciousness and the inner state of the mind. Sketches of life by various Realists are followed by Expressionist works with alternating visions of dreamlike worlds and intensely emotional observations of reality. The show ends chronologically with the penetrating social and visual acuity of the New Objectivity movement in the 1920s, and the utopian artists of the Bauhaus school of art and design.

Drawn largely from the Ackland Art Museum’s own collection, Romantic Dreams/Rude Awakenings presents more than 75 impressive prints and drawings by such masters as Adolf Menzel, Max Liebermann, Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz, Lovis Corinth, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Max Beckmann, and others, revealing the surprising depth of the Ackland’s holdings in this area. The show is rounded out by a number of works by Northern European artists closely associated with the traditions of German-speaking Europe, such as Edvard Munch, Jan Toorop, and others, as well as by small selection of loans from the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Organized by Timothy Riggs, Curator of Collections, Ackland Art Museum.

This exhibition was made possible by the BIN Charitable Foundation and the William Hayes Ackland Trust. It focuses on the Museum’s permanent collection, supplemented by generous loans from the North Carolina Museum of Art; the Rare Book Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and several private collections.

Cutting-edge art by seven graduating MFA students at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are featured in the Ackland Art Museum’s exhibition New Currents in Contemporary Art: MFA 2011.

On view are innovative works of photography, video, sculpture, and mixed media on view represent the culmination of two years of graduate study by featured artists Travis Donovan, Carolyn Janssen, Lydia Anne McCarthy, Jessye McDowell, John Hollin Kelse Norwood, Raymond Padrón, and Tracy Spencer-Stonestreet.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 919/966-5736 or visit (

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