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Nasher Museum of Art

Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Rooster, 1991

In my previous post, I described our visit this morning to the Duke Homestead. From there, we drove a couple of miles to Duke University to visit its Nasher Museum of Art, arriving a little after noon. Just in time for lunch, which we happily had at the Museum Café. Gail and I shared a white bean and chicken soup, and both of us chose the curried chicken salad wrap with side salad. This was the most beautiful imaginable day, so we sat on the outside patio, but we hadn’t taken into account how windy it was. Our stuff kept blowing away. After the soup, we moved inside.

Two of the museum’s gallery rooms are devoted to a temporary exhibition, Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, which was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. A third large space contained several exhibits from the permanent collection. One, Angels, Devils and the Electric Slide: Outsider Art from the Permanent Collection, was prepared specifically to complement the Calder show. We started here, without first reading the sign that explained its complementary role — use of found objects, etc. Perhaps the intent was for us to start with Calder.

No matter. We loved this exhibition. You can see my favorite, Jimmy Lee Sudduth‘s rooster, above. Below is the placard describing it.

There was also an exhibition put together by a Duke class of undergraduates and graduate students containing ancient objects from the permanent collection. And a selection from museum’s medieval collection, the core of which was acquired from the estate of Ernest Brummer in 1966. The museum says this is one of the finest medieval collection in a university museum. I’m guessing there’s not much competition for this honor, but in any case, the collection certainly contains some wonderful pieces.

As for the Calder show, it was a delight. Here’s the online description:

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University presents an exhibition that provides a fresh perspective on modern sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976) and his influence on a new generation of artists.

Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art pairs 32 master works by Calder with works by seven young artists: Martin Boyce, Nathan Carter, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Aaron Curry, Kristi Lippire, Jason Meadows and Jason Middlebrook. The Nasher Museum is the fourth and final venue for the exhibition, which will be on view from February 16 to June 17, 2012.

Visitors know and love Calder as the inventor of the mobile, and for his legacy as a modern sculptor. This is the first exhibition to explore Calder’s influence on an exciting new generation of artists. Visitors will have a rare chance to see their work side by side with that of Calder, to compare the creative use of materials to define space and explore form, balance, color and movement.

And here is one of the works:

Alexander Calder, Four Boomerangs, c. 1949. Painted sheet metal and steel wire, 39 x 63 inches diameter. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

[Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago]

Well worth a visit. And have lunch too.

Categories: Art, Museums
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