100 years of art for the people

This academic year, the Allen Memorial Art Museum will celebrate its centennial with exhibitions, speakers, and a symposium related to its history and the growth of its collection, which now comprises more than 15,000 items.

“We’ll be showing some of the most significant and celebrated works in the museum’s care, as well as highlighting the people who shaped our history,” said director Andria Derstine.

For example, she has curated an exhibition titled “Maidenform to Modernism: The Bissett Collection,” which presents 24 works that form the core of the Allen’s modern European collection: paintings by Chagall, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, and others, along with paintings and works on paper by Dubuffet and Miro.

Another exhibition celebrates the legacy of Ellen Johnson, whose career as an art history professor at Oberlin — in addition to her friendships with emerging artists of the 1960s and 1970s — helped to build the Allen’s contemporary art collection.

Another collector was Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss, who founded the museum in memory of her first husband, Dudley Peter Allen. “A Century of Asian Art at Oberlin: Chinese Painting” presents three major genres: landscape, bird and flower, and figure painting.

A variety of special programs are planned for the academic year, including a Centennial Symposium on Saturday, Oct. 7.

During this daylong event, former AMAM directors and curators, as well as Oberlin alumni and emeritus professors, will give their perspectives on the importance of academic museums. The keynote speaker will be Stephan Jost, a former AMAM curator who is now director of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

For details,visit www.oberlin.edu/amam.

Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sundays; closed Mondays and major holidays. Free educational or group guided tours may be arranged by calling 440-775-8671.

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Architect Cass Gilbert’s rendering of the original Allen Memorial Art Museum building in 1917.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/08/web1_1983.114.jpgArchitect Cass Gilbert’s rendering of the original Allen Memorial Art Museum building in 1917.

Courtesy image

Staff Report


“Maidenform to Modernism: The Bissett Collection”

Stern Gallery East, through May 27

The core of the Allen’s modern European collection was formed through gifts from cofounders of the Maidenform company.

“This Is Your Art: The Legacy of Ellen Johnson”

Ellen Johnson Gallery, through May 27

A centennial exhibition of 20th century works acquired through the influence and advocacy of the iconic art history professor, who also gave her personal collection to the Allen.

“A Century of Women in Prints, 1917–2017”

Stern Gallery West, through Dec. 17

Works made by women during the museum’s first 100 years represent such movements as surrealism, abstract expressionism, and minimalism. The prints address issues of history, identity, social justice, and creativity.

“A Century of Asian Art at Oberlin: Chinese Painting”

Ripin Gallery, through Dec. 10

The Chinese painting collection at Oberlin began in 1912 with gifts from Charles Freer; a more recent acquisition came in 1997 with the Schlenker collection. On view are recognized masterpieces, hidden treasures, and albums rarely exhibited in their entirety.

“A Century of Asian Art at Oberlin: Persian and South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts”

Ripin Gallery, through Dec. 10

Painting styles range from the jewel-like precision of Persian miniatures to colorful, dynamic compositions from western India. Also on view are silken prayer rugs from Persia decorated with floral and geometric motifs.

“Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings”

Stern Gallery West, Feb. 6 through May 13

Etchings by the 17th century Dutch master are presented through the lenses of connoisseurship, scholarly and public reception, and the history of collection-building, as well as technical and scientific approaches, such as the study of watermarks. More than 60 etchings include portraiture, genre scenes, religious narratives, landscapes, study plates, and nudes. Organized in conjunction with Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, the exhibition includes prints from Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Syracuse, and Yale universities; Oberlin and Vassar colleges; and the University of Kansas, as well as the Morgan Library & Museum and private collections.

“A Century of Asian Art at Oberlin: Japanese Prints”

Ripin Gallery, 2018 dates to be announced

This retrospective exhibition of Japanese prints from the Allen’s collection includes not only ukiyo-e woodblock prints from the Mary A. Ainsworth bequest, but also later works from the 20th century shin-hanga (new prints) and sōsaku-hanga (creative prints) movements, as well as more recent contemporary works. The exhibition also emphasizes the role that individuals have played in building the collection through gifts of works of art.