Oct 22, 2013
01:12 PM
Arts & Entertainment

At UConn's Benton Museum, Mary Cassatt, Yes, But Also Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora

At UConn's Benton Museum, Mary Cassatt, Yes, But Also Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora

Mary Cassatt (American, 1855-1926), Woman with her Child, 1889/1890. Pastel on beige paper. The Louise Crombie Beach Memorial Fund.

University art museums, like much of academia, purposefully enjoy freedoms that are more elusive in the “real” world, the place where art meets up with commerce, often yielding exhibits that are long on (hoped-for) appeal to the masses and shorter on the exploration of ideas, intellectual curiosity—and the kind of sustenance that encourages growth.

The William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs has never had an issue with providing sustenance. How could it when the museum, which opened in the mid-1960s, took up residence in a 1920s-era dining hall commonly known as The Beanery.

Now is a particularly good time to get reacquainted with, or discover, a museum whose permanent collection includes works by Childe Hassam, Henry Ward Ranger, Emil Carlson, Charles H. Davis, Ernest Lawson, Guy Wiggins, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Hart Benton, Fairfield Porter, George Bellows, Gustav Klimt, Rembrandt Peale, Georges Braque, Edward Burne-Jones, Maurice Prendergast and Kiki Smith.

An exhibit that began last June as a summer treat, and remains on view through Dec. 15, offers Old Masters to Revolutionaries: Five Centuries of the Benton’s Best, and comprises a “selection of its most prized possessions in an exhibition spanning five centuries,” according to the museum’s website. “We begin with a 16th-century double portrait by the Spanish court painter Alonso Snchez Coello, whose unidentified subjects are a well-dressed noblewoman and child. Also featured is another image of maternal affection in the work Woman and Child by the American impressionist Mary Cassatt. The fragile pastel is a favorite in the collection, but can only be displayed occasionally for conservation reasons.”

Additionally, the exhibit features works by Käthe-Kollwitz, the German printmaker and champion of oppressed, especially poor, urban women, along with works by 20th-century American symbolist painter Arthur Bowen Davies and a fellow member of The Eight, George Benjamin Luks.

“No exhibition of the Benton's best would be complete without the work of Reginald Marsh, an American painter, printmaker, and illustrator who graduated from Yale with his good friend William Benton. A large-scale oil painting and watercolor by Marsh are featured in this exhibition,” the website explains.

Adding contrasting context—in subject matter in one case and medium in the other—are two new exhibits that went live Tuesday (Oct. 22): Framing Photography: New Additions to the Benton Collection in Context and Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora.

Both remain on view through Dec. 15, and the public is invited to a reception on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 3 to 5 pm.

In Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora, guest curator Kathryn Myers, a UConn Professor of Art, brings together 15 contemporary artists who, through diverse creative approaches, explore issues of identity and the continued power of place in our global world, a release explains.

The artists represented are Ravi Agarwal, Sanarth Banerjee, Siona Benjamin, Neil Chowdhury, Sunil Gupta, Hanuman R. Kambli, Bari Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Sachin Naik, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Madhvi Parekh, Sujith SN, Anupam Sud, Avinash Veeraraghavan, and Waswo X. Waswo (whose work Suresh Playing Hanuman is shown at left).

Meanwhile, Framing Photography: New Additions to the Benton Collection in Context combines artworks in a variety of media with a recent gift of 44 photographs from Ann and Samuel Charters. “This exhibition places the achievements of such noted American photographers as Timothy O'Sullivan, Aaron Siskind, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham, Reenie Barrow, and Elaine O’Neil within the broader context of twentieth-century American art, politics, and culture,” a release says, noting that the gift to the Benton from the Samuel and Ann  Charters Collection of Classic American Photographs spans more than 100 years. (Wright Morris (American, 1910-1998). Near McCook, 1939. Silver print. Gift of Samuel Charters and Ann Charters.)

In addition to these exhibits, the Benton is worth a visit for its museum store, and, of course, to relax and ponder the impact of the art in The Beanery café.

Admission to the museum is free. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The store and The Beanery opens at 8:30 a.m. during the week, closing at 4, and are open from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekends.

If you’re planning ahead, the museum will be closed Nov 28 through Dec 2 and Dec 16 through Jan 20, 2014, as the museum follows the university calendar for holiday and weather-related closings. For more information, see the museum website, which offers helpful information on visting and parking. The phone number is (860) 486-4520.

UPCOMING PUBLIC PROGRAMS

October 29, Laurel Hall, Room 102, 7 pm*
Film Screening of The Namesake
Hosted in partnership with the UConn Alumni Association

Oct 31, 12:15 pm
Campus Art Walk: Explore examples of public art on campus with a museum docent.

Nov 6, 12:15 pm 
Gallery Talk: “Creating Convergence” with Kathryn Myers, Guest Curator and Professor of Art, UConn

Nov 8, 5–7 pm
The Salon at The Benton: Art and Conversation — "Creativity and Civility"
English professor Veronica Makowsky will moderate a panel discussion on the creative power of art and the path to civility. Artwork from the Benton collection will serve as jumping-off points for conversation with Susan Herbst, President, University of Connecticut; Lewis Gordon, Professor, Philosophy and Institute for African American Studies; and Bandana Purkayastha, Professor, Sociology and Asian American Studies.

Nov 12, 2:15 pm
Spotlight Talk: "Perspectival Prints and Photojournalism before the Camera" with Carla Galfano, Assistant Curator

November 14, 3:30 pm, Oak Hall, Room 101*
The Radha Devi Joshi Lecture: “The Urban Transformation of India” with Miloon Kothari, Visiting Scholar, MIT. A reception will follow at The Benton.
This program is sponsored by the Indian Studies Program, UConn.

Nov 19, 5 pm, Konover Auditorium*
“Convergence: A Discussion of Diasporic Indian Art and Literature” with UConn faculty and special guests: Susan Bean, Curator Emeritus, The Peabody Essex Museum; Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, University of Rhode Island; Sunanda Sanyal, Lesley University; and Geetanjali Chanda, Yale University. Professor Kathryn Myers will conduct a gallery tour of Convergence at 4 pm at the Benton. 

Program support is provided by the UConn Alumni Association; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Asian American Cultural Center; Asian American Studies Institute; Office of Global Affairs; Institute for African American Studies; El Instituto; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; India Studies; the Departments of Art and Art History in the School of Fine Arts.

Nov 26, 2:15 pm
Spotlight Talk:
“Alfred Stieglitz, Camera Work, and American Photography” withAlly Walton, Assistant Curator

* Asterisks denote campus locations other than the Benton.
Dates and times are subject to change. Check www.benton.uconn.edu

 

At UConn's Benton Museum, Mary Cassatt, Yes, But Also Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora

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