Vivien Fryd to Lecture on Andy Warhol at Cheekwood on July 17

Flowers_130x130Fifty years ago, during the summer of 1964, Andy Warhol began working on silkscreen paintings of Flowers, a subject that would preoccupy him for the rest of his life. Best known for his vibrant pop imagery and searing commentary on art and popular culture, Warhol’s flower imagery reveals a softer, more intimate side of the artist.

Vivien Fryd, professor of history of art at Vanderbilt University, will lecture at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art on Thursday, July 17, at noon. Her lecture, entitled “Decoding Andy Warhol: Lifestyle and Art,” is part of the Lunch and Lecture series and will be held in the Potter Room of Botanic Hall (also known as the Visitor Center).

Fryd will look at Warhol’s background and examine his closeted sexuality and how it is both absent and present in such subjects as his flowers and comics. Her lecture is coordinated with a current exhibit at Cheekwood, Andy Warhol’s Flowers, on display now through September 7. A guided tour of Andy Warhol’s Flowers will follow the lecture.

This exhibition traces Warhol’s engagement with floral images throughout his career, beginning with a group of his earliest commercial illustrations, drawn in the 1950s, and his creation of the Flowers series in 1964, to photographs, paintings, and screen prints through 1986 before his untimely death the following year.

Gallery Exhibit of Polish Theatre Posters in Honor of Don Evans

curious2Presented in honor of the late Don Evans, who for much of his professional career taught art at Vanderbilt University, Curiouser and Curiouser—Avant-garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s features a selection of posters given by Evans that are from a particularly rich period of Eastern European graphic art design. Evans, who developed a national reputation for ambitious and interdisciplinary work, died on May 6, 2013. The exhibit opens on Thursday, June 19, in the Fine Arts Gallery housed in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus.

Some Polish artists went on to receive significant notoriety for their work. Jan Sawka’s theatrical posters provoked the Polish government to expel him in 1979. Many of the posters reflect an aesthetic begun in the 1960s under the influence of pop art and experimental theater of the period. These posters, as well as those from the 1960s, influenced a wide range of creative figures, including the filmmakers the Quay Brothers. This past year they were featured in a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where several similar posters from the period served as a context for their innovative films.

Within the exhibition, the Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to screen Freedom on the Fence, a 2009 documentary about the history of Polish posters, from World War II through the fall of Communism. The film details the evolution of this art form by revealing the revolutionary role that posters played in the social, political, and cultural life of Poland. Freedom on the Fence spotlights several Polish poster artists, including Roman Cieślewicz and Franciszek Starowieyski, both of whom are featured in Curiouser and Curiouser. Produced by Andrea Marks, the 40-minute documentary is directed by Glenn Holsten and Andrea Marks. For more information, please visit

Curiouser and Curiouser—Avant-garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director. For further information, please visit

*Jan Sawka, Polish (1946-2012)
Untitled, 1975-1976
Offset lithograph, 32 3/4 x 23 inches

Student-Curated Exhibit Features Objects from Ancient China

chinese artFrom Tomb to Temple: Unearthing Ancient China Through the Vanderbilt University Art Collection, an exhibit organized by the Department of History of Art in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, will open on Thursday, June 19, in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus. The exhibit represents the first student-curated exhibit to be displayed in the Cohen gallery.

Origin legends generally offer insights into what people think is most important in their culture. According to the Chinese, man is not the culminating achievement of creation, but is integral to the natural world. Spirituality is found in nature, from the circular dome of heaven wherein celestial bodies revolve, to the earth below on which mountains and rivers were formed. Objects on display in this exhibition represent the divine forces of heaven and earth, gods and ancestors.

China looks back upon the oldest continuous artistic tradition existing in the world today. Other civilizations predated the Chinese, but only in China does a current civilization exist in unbroken continuity for well over four thousand years. Many characteristics of ancient Chinese art have persisted or recurred throughout centuries. This exhibition samples two concentrations that distinguish the holdings of the Fine Arts Gallery: the personalized sculpture of the tomb, and universalized objects of the temple. It is arranged with respect to these subcategories, while emphasizing the relationship among tomb, temple, and divine mountains.

This exhibition, which closes on October 12, is curated by students of the course Exhibiting Historical Art: The Sculptural Traditions of Imperial China—Hana Betts, Corey Bowen, Jessica DeAngelo, Lucy Gonzalez, Emily Grant, Thasin Jaigirdar, Jenna Lindley, Ming Yang Lu, Elisa Marks, Laura Payne, and Alex Penn.

Vanderbilt alumnus Jeremy Fan Zhang, Curator of Asian Art, Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida, will present a History of Art Alumni Lecture and Gallery Talk on October 9 at 4:10 p.m. in Cohen 203. His lecture is entitled “Chinese Funerary Art in its Cultural and Architectural Context.”

Gallery hours (June 19-August 19) are 12-4 pm, Tuesday through Friday; 1-5 pm, Saturday; and closed Sunday and Monday. From August 20-October 12, the gallery will be open from 11 am-4 pm, Monday through Friday; and 1-5 pm, Saturday and Sunday.

Free and open to the public, the Fine Arts Gallery is housed in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East. For further information, please visit

* Horse with Rider, Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-9 CE)
Earthenware with pigment, 13 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 4 1/2″
Gift of Chauncey P. Lowe, 2000

Book by Christopher Johns Set for Release in the Fall

christopherjohnsbookUntil relatively recently, most scholars considered the notion of a Catholic Enlightenment either oxymoronic or even illusory, since the received wisdom was that the Catholic Church was a tireless and indefatigable enemy of modernist progress. According to Christopher Johns, Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Professor of History of Art, the eighteenth-century papacy recognized many of the advantages of engaging with certain aspects of enlightenment thinking, and many in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, both in Italy and abroad, were sincerely interested in making the Church more relevant in the modern world and, above all, in reforming the various institutions that governed society.

In his latest book Johns presents the visual culture of papal Rome as a major change agent in the cause of Catholic enlightenment while assessing its continuing links to tradition. The Visual Culture of Catholic Enlightenment, to be released in the fall by Penn State University Press, sheds substantial light on the relationship between eighteenth-century Roman society and visual culture and the role of religion in both.

Awards Presented at Reception for 2014 HART Graduates

may8receptionHistory of Art majors and minors and their families were honored at the department’s reception for graduating seniors on Thursday, May 8, in the atrium of Cohen Memorial Hall.

Elizabeth Schoenberg, who plans to attend medical school, received the Cooley Prize ($250) for the highest grade point average in the history of art. Three students were recognized with an honorable mention ($50 each): Erin Baldwin, who will attend law school at Yale University, Grace Coggins, and Camden Martin, who plans to attend medical school.

Jenna Lindley, Zachary Richards, and Elizabeth Schoenberg were recognized as recipients of the Frances and John Downing Undergraduate Research Travel Awards earlier in the academic year. These grants, which provide assistance for up to $1,500 in travel cost to exhibitions and research centers, are awarded in the fall and spring of each academic year.

Hilary Giroux received the Vanderbilt Wattles Fellowship, which offers a one-year, fully integrated position in the London insurance market at Lloyd’s of London. Jordan Comstock will attend medical school at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Zachary Richards has plans for law school.

Halle O’Neal to Present Lecture at Cheekwood on May 15

bambooCelebrated for its flexibility and strength, the perennial bamboo has enjoyed diverse lives in Japanese art and culture—from delectable edibles and delicately carved tea utensils to bold ink splashes and conceptual sculptures.

Hallie O’Neal, Mellon Assistant Professor of History of Art, will explore these various manifestations, many of which balance on the edge of function and art, in a lecture at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art on Thursday, May 15, at noon. Her lecture, entitled “Bending Blades of Grass: Bamboo in Japanese Art and Culture,” is part of the Lunch and Lecture series and will be held in the Potter Room of Botanic Hall (also known as the Visitor Center).

O’Neal’s lecture is coordinated with a current exhibit at Cheekwood, “Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art,” that explores the rising awareness of bamboo as an innovative art form.

*Uematsu Chikuyu, Sound of Wind, 1991. Bamboo (madake), rattan, lacquer.
Photo © Susan Einstein