A First Look


Private viewings of sculpture and paintings by major artists have brought hundreds of alumni together to learn from Duke experts at museums in select cities across the country. Sponsored by the Duke Alumni Association, with the assistance of the development office and local alumni clubs, these popular gallery receptions featuring lectures by authorities on art have included the works of Van Gogh, Rodin, and Rockwell. The alumni affairs office’s Alumni Education and Travel program has organized the events.

The series premiered in February 1999, when the concept was brought to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibit was “Van Gogh’s Van Goghs,” a collection of self-portraits. Duke art history professor Hans J. von Miegroet discussed “Van Gogh: Contemporary Culture and Early Influences.” Nearly 850 attended this event, which was the largest ever hosted by the Duke Club of Southern California.

In February 2001, the first major retrospective of Henry Moore’s work exhibited in the United States in almost twenty years was the centerpiece of an evening at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Duke Club of North Texas was host to nearly 150 alumni and friends attending. The evening’s program, “The Art of Collecting,” featured Raymond D. Nasher ’43, art collector and namesake of Duke’s new art museum, which is to be built on Campus Drive. Nasher, whose collection includes works by Rodin, Brancusi, Moore, Gauguin, Miro, Matisse, Giacometti, Calder, David Smith, Stella, and Lichtenstein, shared his personal recollections of Henry Moore. Art historian Michael P. Mezzatesta, who is the Mary D.B.T. Semans and James H. Semans Director of the Duke University Museum of Art, discussed collecting for the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke. A private viewing of 120 pieces of Moore’s drawings, maquettes, plasters, and full-scale bronzes followed.

Last November, the DAA and the Duke Club of Philadelphia sponsored a reception for the private viewing of “Van Gogh: Face to Face,” an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Duke’s von Miegroet spoke
on the topic “The Van Gogh Paradox: Art (f)or Profit.” Nearly 500 attended. A similar reception and program last July, attended by nearly 300, was sponsored by the Duke Club of Boston for the Van Gogh show, when it was exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., was the site last June for a reception and viewing of the exhibit “Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People.” Anne Classen Knutson ’86, American art curator at Atlanta’s High Museum and co-curator of the exhibit, focused her remarks on “Norman Rockwell: Comfortable or Controversial?” The DAA and the Duke Club of Washington were hosts for the event, which attracted more than 400 alumni and friends.
“Rodin: Sculpture from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection and additional works” at the North Carolina Museum of Art last April was, historically, one of the Duke Club of the Triangle’s largest events, with 550 in attendance. Duke museum director Mezzatesta discussed “Rodin and Washington Duke.” Alumni Education and Travel is planning more events for this year, including a Winslow Homer exhibit and viewing in Atlanta on October 10 and a reception and program in Chicago on October 16 for the exhibit of works by Gauguin and Van Gogh. Alumni in these cities will receive invitations by mail. For information, contact Deborah Weiss Fowlkes ’78 or Rachel Davies ’72, A.M. ’89 in the Alumni Education and Travel program at (919) 684-5114.

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