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Harvard Art Museums to Focus on Drawings in Summer Exhibitions

Cambridge, MA,

Other exhibitions feature ancient Chinese pottery, German artist Wolfgang Tillmans, and Indigenous Australian art

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This summer, the Harvard Art Museums will showcase their preeminent drawings collection with two exhibitions and a full lineup of complementary programing. Highlighting some of the best examples from the museums’ collection of Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish drawings from the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as late 19th-century symbolist drawings from across Europe and the United States, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt and Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910 will both open May 21 in the University Galleries located on Level 3, and will run through August 14, 2016.

To support these exhibitions, the museums will host a series of gallery talks, a seminar, and a lecture; visitors may further explore the drawings collection by scheduling a visit to the Art Study Center, where they can request works not currently on view for close looking and personal study, or see additional selections of works related to exhibitions during Art Study Center Open Hours on Monday afternoons. In addition, research by the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies on select works from the Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt exhibition will be available online soon via the Harvard Art Museums’ Art + Science digital tool.

The museums will also open two additional exhibitions this summer: Prehistoric Pottery from Northwest China, showcasing nearly 60 excellent, yet rarely seen ceramics from the collections of the Harvard Art Museums and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (on display May 21 through August 14, 2016); and Folding, Refraction, Touch: Modern and Contemporary Art in Dialogue with Wolfgang Tillmans, featuring a new work created for the Busch-Reisinger Museum by German artist Wolfgang Tillmans, along with objects by other artists whose work resonate with Tillmans’s interest in surface, light, and the body (on view August 27, 2016 through January 8, 2017).

Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia, the museums’ current special exhibition focusing on major works of contemporary Indigenous Australian art, will remain on view through September 18, 2016.

This suite of exhibitions, together with the works on display in the museums’ Collections Galleries, offers visitors access to a wide variety of works and diverse curatorial approaches to the history of art.

Drawings at the Harvard Art Museums: Past, Present, and Future
The Harvard Art Museums’ drawings collection is among the finest in the country. Carefully assembled over a century by esteemed collectors, curators, and art historians, the collection includes especially strong holdings of works by Old Masters (Bruegel, Dürer, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Fragonard, Tiepolo), important 19th-century artists (Ingres, Géricault, Blake, Homer, Sargent, Beardsley, Whistler), as well as other drawings and sketchbooks. This rich collection has helped establish Harvard as a premier destination for the close study of drawings and the artistic process.

During the summer of 2016, the new Harvard Art Museums—which opened in November 2014 after an extensive renovation and expansion—will highlight their historic drawings collections through two exhibitions and related programming. The museums invite visitors to share their experience on social media using #DrawingsatHarvard.

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt (May 21–August 14, 2016) features prime examples from the museums’ collection of Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish drawings from the 16th and 17th centuries—one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in the United States. About 40 works will be on view from some of the period’s outstanding draftsmen such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Lambert Doomer, Jacques de Gheyn II, Hendrick Goltzius, Jan van Goyen, Maarten van Heemskerck, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, and Cornelis Vroom. The exhibition includes drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection. Abrams, a Harvard alumnus (Harvard College ’54; Harvard Law ’57), along with his late wife, is a longtime supporter of the Harvard Art Museums. The show has been curated by William W. Robinson, the Maida and George Abrams Curator of Drawings, Emeritus, and celebrates his long record of scholarship on Dutch and Flemish drawings. The exhibition includes a selection of the drawings in Robinson’s publication, also titled Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, which presents 100 notable examples from the museums’ Dutch, Flemish, and Netherlandish drawings collection. The book, published by the Harvard Art Museums and distributed by Yale University Press, will be available in the museums’ shop in late May.

Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910 (May 21–August 14, 2016) explores the major themes of symbolism, a late 19th-century artistic and cultural movement that formed a bridge between impressionism and modernism. Symbolist works explore dreams and visions, spirituality, nature, and the relationship between society and the self; the works evoke artists’ ideas subjectively—through color, form, and composition—rather than objectively representing worldly appearances. The nearly 40 works on view offer an expansive view of the movement, including not only artists who identified themselves as symbolists but also influential precursors, as well as artists active at the end of the movement. The exhibition acknowledges the international nature of symbolism, which was centered in France but extended to countries such as Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, and the United States.

“What is happening with drawings right now at the Harvard Art Museums shows how the reconstructed and reimagined museums are living into their full potential as a 21st-century learning laboratory,” said Edouard Kopp, the Maida and George Abrams Associate Curator of Drawings and curator of the Flowers of Evil exhibition.

“We want to continue Harvard Art Museums’ great tradition of collecting and studying drawings,” he added. “We can do this not only through these exciting new exhibitions, but also through diverse drawings-related programming for visitors and scholars, ongoing drawings rotations in our Collections Galleries, and the opportunity for additional engagement in our Art Study Center, where visitors can deepen their experience by looking at original drawings up-close and unframed.”

About the Harvard Art Museums’ Drawings Collection
The Harvard Art Museums’ collection of approximately 12,000 drawings includes major masterpieces from American and principal European schools. Among the strengths are 17th- and early 19th-century French works, including the most extensive holdings of drawings by Ingres outside of France, as well as significant groups of works by Géricault and David. The collection also excels in Italian Renaissance works by Parmigianino, Michelangelo, and Pontormo, among others. Works by German and Netherlandish masters such as Dürer, Holbein, Bruegel, and Rembrandt are well represented, as are 19th-century British works by Blake, Beardsley, and the Pre-Raphaelites. In the American school, the collection includes more than 20 Homer watercolors; drawings and pastels by Whistler; and an incomparable grouping of about 400 drawings by Sargent. The collection also includes important holdings of works by 20th-century artists such as Edward Hopper, Henry Moore, David Smith, and Eva Hesse.

About the Harvard Art Museums’ Art Study Center
Providing opportunities for the close, sustained viewing of works of art has long been central to the Harvard Art Museums’ mission of teaching and research. Only a small percentage of the museums’ collections can be displayed in public gallery spaces at any given time. Designed to offer an environment for individual study, the Art Study Center provides distinct learning opportunities for students, faculty, and the public through the close examination of original works of art from the collections of the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler Museums. Each of the three museums has its own dedicated study center, offering access to thousands of works of art across all media, including Greek vases, Roman bronze figurines, Byzantine coins, Chinese jades, Japanese surimono prints, Islamic miniatures, Rembrandt etchings, Paul Gauguin still lifes, David Smith sculpture, photographs by Diane Arbus, Lyonel Feininger drawings, and Joseph Beuys’s multiples. Visits can be arranged through advance appointment. The Art Study Center as a whole (including two seminar rooms and large reception and orientation areas) totals approximately 5,000 square feet, making it unique in size among U.S. museums.

Drawings-Related Programming
Below is a partial list of drawings-related public events scheduled for late spring and summer 2016. All events are held at the Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA. For details, updates, and additional events, see the calendar:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 4:00–5:00pm
Lecture: Drawings for Paintings: The Creative Process
Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern Baroque paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., will examine how 17th-century Dutch artists used drawings as a guide for their work.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016, 11:00am–12:00pm
Art Study Center Seminar: Dutch and Flemish Drawings
A close look at drawings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Abraham Bloemaert, and Jan van Goyen, led by curator William Robinson, research associate Susan Anderson, and conservator Penley Knipe.

Gallery Talks: Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910
Members of the museums’ curatorial staff will lead these talks:
Wednesday, May 25, 1:30–2:00pm More
Thursday, May 26, 1:30–2:00pm More
Tuesday, June 7, 12:30–1:00pm More
Tuesday, June 28, 12:30–1:00pm More
Tuesday, July 19, 12:30–1:00pm More
Thursday, July 28, 12:30–1:00pm More

Gallery Talks: Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt
Members of the museums’ curatorial staff will lead these talks:
Thursday, June 16, 12:30–1:00pm More
Tuesday, June 21, 12:30–1:00pm More
Thursday, July 7, 12:30–1:00pm More
Tuesday, July 12, 12:30–1:00pm More
Thursday, August 4, 12:30–1:00pm More
Thursday, August 11, 12:30–1:00pm More

Art Study Center Open Hours
On Monday afternoons from May 23 through August 29, the Art Study Center will welcome walk-ins from 1 to 4pm. Please note that the museums will be closed on May 30 and July 4 in observance of Memorial Day and Independence Day, respectively. Visitors may request works from the collections not currently on view for individual study. In addition, a selection of works related to Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt will be available for viewing, and other works related to current exhibitions, programs, and curatorial and conservation research may also be featured.

About the Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums, among the world’s leading art institutions, comprise three museums (the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler Museums) and four research centers (the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis). The Fogg Museum includes Western art from the Middle Ages to the present; the Busch-Reisinger Museum, unique among North American museums, is dedicated to the study of all modes and periods of art from central and northern Europe, with an emphasis on German-speaking countries; and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum is focused on Asian, ancient, and Islamic and later Indian art. Together, the collections include approximately 250,000 objects in all media. The Harvard Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. Integral to Harvard University and the wider community, the museums and research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and the public. For more than a century they have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and are renowned for their seminal role in developing the discipline of art history in the United States.

The Harvard Art Museums’ recent renovation and expansion builds on the legacies of the three museums and unites their remarkable collections under one roof for the first time. Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s responsive design preserved the Fogg Museum’s landmark 1927 facility, while transforming the space to accommodate 21st-century needs. Following a six-year building project, the museums now feature 40 percent more gallery space, an expanded Art Study Center, conservation labs, and classrooms, and a striking new glass roof that bridges the facility’s historic and contemporary architecture. The new Harvard Art Museums’ building is more functional, accessible, spacious, and above all, more transparent. The three constituent museums retain their distinct identities in this new facility, yet their close proximity provides exciting opportunities to experience works of art in a broader context.

Hours and Admission
Daily, 10am–5pm. Closed major holidays. Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors (65+), $10 non-Harvard students (18+). Free for members; youth under 18; Cambridge residents; and Harvard students, faculty, and staff (plus one guest). On Saturdays, from 10am–noon, Massachusetts residents receive free admission. Visit the Plan Your Visit page for information about other discounts and policies.

Exhibitions, Events, and News
Our Special Exhibitions Gallery presents important new research on artists and artistic practice, and our University Galleries are programmed in consultation with Harvard faculty to support coursework. Visit the Exhibitions page for information on current and upcoming installations. Visit the museums’ Calendar to learn more about lectures, workshops, films, performances, special events, and other programs that are held throughout the year. Check out Index, our multimedia magazine, to keep up with what’s happening at the Harvard Art Museums.

Members and Fellows
With access to exclusive perks and programs, Harvard Art Museums members enjoy special moments to celebrate and explore the museums’ world-class collections and special exhibitions. The Fellows are a dynamic group of art enthusiasts and supporters who enjoy the most exclusive opportunities that the museums have to offer.

The Harvard Art Museums receive support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.