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Krannert Art Museum celebrates the big 5-0

Harold Edgerton's Moving Skip Rope

This 1952 photograph, "Moving Skip Rope," by Harold Edgerton, an electrical engineering professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, can be seen in Krannert Art Museum’s 50th anniversary exhibition, “Recent Acquisitions.”

« Click photo to enlarge

8/17/2011 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — One of the first images you’ll see in Krannert Art Museum’s 50th anniversary exhibition is John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Mrs. Robert Hyde, painted 1778. With her upswept hair, averted gaze and pearl choker offsetting her milky skin, Mrs. Hyde is the embodiment of demure gentility.

William Wegman's "Boarding"

William Wegman
Boarding, 1997
Black and white Polaroid

Gift of the artist and Art Acquisition Fund 2009

© William Wegman

Just behind her, mounted on the same hanging wall, is one of Andy Warhol’s boldly colored portraits of Marilyn Monroe. All tousled hair, parted lips and sultry eyes, why would this artwork occupy the same space as Copley’s Mrs. Hyde?

It’s because guest curator Michael Rush wants viewers to discover the connections in art across time and mediums. In a video that will be shown in the gallery, Rush quotes French filmmaker Robert Bresson to explain: “I wanted to bring together things that have not yet been brought together and did not seem predisposed to be so.”

Rush, the former director of Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum, is the director of Michigan State University’s new Eli and Edyth Broad Museum, scheduled to open in 2012. In “At Fifty: Krannert Art Museum, 1961-2011,” Rush chose works from the museum’s permanent collection of 10,000 objects, carefully comingling pieces from ancient Greece with 19th century European paintings and 20th century video, “to excite and, one hopes, ignite new dialogues, deeper arguments, more pleasures,” Rush said.

Rush will be present for a gallery conversation at the opening reception, from 6 to 7 p.m., Aug. 25 (Thursday), at the museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign.

Another exhibition celebrating the museum’s golden anniversary, “Recent Acquisitions, 2006-2011,” features some of the 350 pieces added to the museum’s collection in the past five years, including “Boarding” from U. of I. alumnus William Wegman. The exhibition was curated by Kathryn Koca Polite.

Patrons familiar with the museum’s Kinkead Pavilion galleries will notice something subtly different about the space – a new climate-control system has been installed, and the walls have received a fresh coat of paint. During this renovation, museum staff members have reorganized some works and re-introduced others, including a group of sculptures by U. of I. alumnus Lorado Taft (Class of 1879).

Two new exhibitions, “Makeba!” and “Jerusalem Saved! Inness and the Spiritual Landscape,” also are opening Aug. 25. “Makeba!” is a collection of record jackets and other artifacts featuring the late Miriam Makeba, a singer who emerged from the townships of Johannesburg to perform with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Simon and Nina Simone while providing the soundtrack for the struggle against apartheid. This exhibition is part of Siemon Allen’s collection project, “Imaging South Africa.”

“Jerusalem Saved!” reunites newly restored fragments of George Inness’s monumental canvas, “The New Jerusalem.” The painting was damaged in 1880 while on display at the Madison Square Garden when the roof collapsed.

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