YUAG will exhibit “Recent Acquisitions” on Friday


A new Yale University Art Gallery exhibition made up of the museum’s acquisitions during the pandemic presents a selection of 50 works from the more than 1,000 acquired by the gallery in 2020 and 2021.

Staff reporter

Yale Daily News

Of the more than 1,000 new works acquired by the Yale University Art Gallery during the pandemic, 50 will be highlighted in a “Recent Acquisitions” exhibit that opens on Friday. The exhibition will feature works from all art forms and from various corners of the world, including beads from Africa, jade from South America and contemporary paintings from Europe.

According to Laurence Kanter, YUAG’s chief curator and one of the exhibition’s co-curators, the planning process for the exhibition was “a little disappointing”. In a normal year, the YUAG adheres to an exhibition calendar and schedules exhibitions three to five years before they open to allow for thorough scientific research. However, due to the closures, postponements and reorganizations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum found itself with a set of empty galleries with only six months notice. Kanter pointed out that six months is a “short” period to prepare a “serious” research project.

“My colleague [co-curator Freyda Spira] and I had the idea that we would make a careful selection of recent acquisitions – something we had never done at the gallery before,” Kanter said. “We were selecting works from the past two years, which were so exceptionally rich for gifts and purchases at the gallery – [we were] very lucky in acquisitions.

For Spira, curator of prints and drawings at YUAG and co-curator of the exhibition, “Recent Acquisitions” was “difficult” to put together, due to the variability of the pieces. Spira worked closely with Kanter to reach an agreement with curators from various departments and to make the exhibition cohesive and visually appealing. When Spira started working at the Gallery in July, she said it was a “wonderful way” for her to meet other staff in the museum’s curatorial departments and to “celebrate” the collection in the community by as a new employee.

“We show works across media, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, from all times and places to demonstrate the range of our encyclopedic museum,” Spira said.

According to Kanter, the object of which the YUAG is most proud – a painting by Italian Renaissance painter Luca Signorelli – is not necessarily the one that will command the most attention. However, it is perhaps the most important Renaissance painting in the gallery’s possession. Kanter said the painting “does not advertise” itself, since the YUAG is displaying it without its frame, which is still being restored.

Following the acquisition of the work, the Gallery discovered that the painting retains its original frame, but that it has been modified over the centuries by adding pieces nailed and glued to it.

“Beneath all this additional accretion of ‘wedding cake’ is the completely intact original frame of this painting, whose original paint surface has been preserved – and the paint surface could be by the artist who has did the painting, Luca Signorelli,” Kanter said. “It’s a unique survival – nothing like it has survived in the world.”

Kanter added that it will take YUAG another full year to carefully remove all of the “at least” six layers of additions to the frame, as some of that extra layer includes the original material itself. He made the decision to exhibit the painting without its frame in order to share it with the public before the frame was completed.

According to Kanter, when the frame is ready and comes to be exhibited with the painting, it will be an “astonishing” revelation in the galleries. For now, he said, the painting is just a “taste”.

“[The exhibition] is an example of the broad support the gallery receives from its patrons, alumni, artists – the greater Yale community,” Spira said. “It’s wonderful to be able to be a repository for this community.”

YUAG is located at 1111 Chapel St.


Gamze covers musical and literary news for the Arts office and writes for the WKND. She is a sophomore at Pauli Murray majoring in Psychology and Humanities.


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