“Sargent to Basquiat,” the title of the Fleming Museum’s central exhibit for the fall semester, captures the wide span of time and diverse styles encompassed in this show of art on loan from alumni collections. Variety is also the hallmark of the collectors, a few with careers in the art world, most not, but all united by a passion for art and the particular artists they have focused their collecting upon.
Janie Cohen, Fleming Museum director, notes that when she first joined the Fleming staff in 1991 an exhibit of work from alumni collections hung on the museum’s walls for the university’s bicentennial celebration. As UVM marks 225 years in 2016, it seemed an apt time to revisit the concept. “As we began to explore this, I was delighted by the quality of the alumni collections,” Cohen says. “These are smart collections—really interesting works by important artists, very well-selected work. In some cases, they are signature works by the artists, and in other cases they are surprising works.”
By nature, such an exhibit is going to be eclectic, Cohen says. But taken in full, “Sargent to Basquiat,” on view through Dec. 16, provides a window on the visual arts’ journey across the 20th century as major movements rise and fall. “It is just a phenomenal two galleries of art work,” Cohen says. “Really, really incredible.”
A number of lectures, films, and tours this semester provide insight on the broad exhibit and particular works. A return to campus for alumnus art historian Alexander Nemerov ’85, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities and chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University, is among the highlights. Nemerov speaks at the Fleming on Friday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m.
Coincidentally, one of the paintings in the current Fleming exhibit, Edward Hopper’s “Bridle Path,” is a work Nemerov explores closely in “Ground Swell: Edward Hopper in 1939,” published in American Art (University of Chicago Press) in the journal’s fall 2008 edition. The painting is on loan to the Fleming from the private collection of an anonymous alum.
The “Bridle Path” connection, coupled with Nemerov’s affection for the museum that aided his study of art history as an undergrad, were prime motivators for the essay he contributed to the exhibit’s handsome catalog and his upcoming talk. “I’m very loyal to the Fleming and to UVM and to Janie and so many people there,” Nemerov says. “I look forward to the chance to talk about Hopper back in that setting.”