The Gift of Art

last edited on Wed. February 25 2015

Gifts constitute one of the most important ways that an art museum’s collection is sustained and increased over time. However, visitors to a museum rarely have access to the individual stories behind those gifts of art.

The Gift of Art, a micro-exhibition presented in Objects and Voices, features four diverse works given in honor of the Smart Museum’s 40th anniversary, accompanied by remarks from the donors—Gay-Young Cho, Alan Fern, W. J. T. Mitchell, and Peter Parshall—on what drew them to a given object in the first place, what living with that work has meant to them, and what caused them to choose the Smart as the best eventual home for it.

“Listening to [artist Suh Se-Ok] reciting the poetry, I was overcome with a nostalgic longing, as for a brief moment, I thought I was hearing my own father.”
—Gay-Young Cho, Member, Smart Museum Board of Governors

Stralsunder Türme has been on my walls for sixty years”
—Alan Fern, Former Director, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Life Member, Smart Museum Board of Governors; PhD'60, Art History, University of Chicago

“I think of it a bit like a mythical object conjured up by Borges in his wonderful story “The Aleph,” which is about a place in which infinity can be seen.”
—W. J. T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Services Professor of English Language and Literature, Art History, and the College, University of Chicago

“It was the hilarious cast of characters in the drawing that I think struck us first: variously quizzical, huffy, flustered, predatory, and regal. These are probably either lappet-faced or red-headed vultures observed in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, a favorite haunt for artists at the time. The delicate pinks against the charcoal and gray paper help to convert a sinister gathering of raptors into a light-hearted comedy.”
—Peter Parshall, Former Curator of Old Master Prints, National Gallery of Art; PhD'74, Art History, University of Chicago