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November 2009 Visual Arts Calendar

October 21, 2009 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, is located on Northwestern University's Evanston campus. The museum's new fall hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The museum is closed on Monday. Admission to the museum and to all programs is free, unless noted. For more information regarding Block Museum exhibitions, programs or location, phone (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Museum Web site at


"Henry Moore: Elephant Skull," through Dec. 13, Alsdorf Gallery. In the 1960s British sculptor Henry Moore became intrigued by the skull of an African elephant kept in the London garden of his friends Sir Julian and Lady Juliette Huxley. The Huxleys eventually gave the skull to Moore, who examined the object's internal and external spaces in a series of etchings printed as an album in 1970. At the time of publishing, Moore called the works "a mixture of observation and imagination," noting that while studying and drawing the skull up close he "could begin to see in it great deserts and rocky landscapes, big caves in the sides of hills, great pieces of architecture, columns and dungeons." "Henry Moore: Elephant Skull" exhibits all 28 prints Moore produced for the portfolio, along with a rare original vellum cover. The album on display is a recent acquisition by the Block Museum. The exhibition also will include the skull of an elephant on loan from Chicago's Field Museum.

"Robert Motherwell: An Attitude Toward Reality, From the Collection of the Walker Art Center," through Dec. 6, Main Gallery. The art and rhetoric of Robert Motherwell helped define the New York School, a group of abstract painters active in the 1940s and 1950s that also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. With an extensive academic background, Motherwell acted as the movement's unofficial spokesperson, writing and speaking about his generation of artists. Influenced in his artwork by surrealism and psychology, Motherwell employed techniques designed to release the creative process from rational control and express the subconscious, as seen, for example, in his "Lyric Suite" drawings. His art explored themes both intimate, such as a series of collages incorporating personal items like cigarette packets and pieces of mail, and international, like "Elegy to the Spanish Republic," a subject he reworked in various formats throughout his life. "Robert Motherwell: An Attitude Toward Reality" offers an overview and introduction to the artist, spanning more than four decades of his career with more than 40 drawings, collages, prints and paintings. The exhibition is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.


Docent guided Adult Tours of the Fall 2009 exhibitions, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 6. Block Museum docents will lead free guided tours of "Henry Moore: Elephant Skull" and "Robert Motherwell: An Attitude Toward Reality, From the Collection of the Walker Art Center" exhibitions at 2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 6. Tours of the galleries begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are not necessary.

Docent-led Group and School Tours by Appointment, through Dec. 13. The Block Museum offers free docent-led tours to groups of eight or more. The 45-minute-long tours are available each day the museum is open. The Block also provides hourlong interactive tours and activities for school groups Tuesday through Friday through Dec. 11. Arrangements for group or school tours should be made at least four weeks in advance by e-mailing blockeducation@northwestern.edu. Visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/education for more information.


"Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde, 1910-1917," 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4. Nancy Perloff, curator of modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute, discusses "Tango with Cows," an exhibition of early Russian avant-garde book art currently on view at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Applying new interdisciplinary perspectives, her lecture will address the tensions in pre-revolutionary Russian book art between past and present, rural and urban, as well as the relationship of transnational poetry to imagery and to a newly invented form of sound poetry. This lecture is organized by the Slavic Department Graduate Students and Faculty Workshop Series and is sponsored by the Graduate School Professional Development grant; Interdisciplinary Cluster for Slavic, Eastern European and Jewish Studies; and the Block Museum.

Gallery Talk, "Robert Motherwell," 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19. Siri Engberg, curator of prints and editions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, leads an in-depth tour of the exhibition "Robert Motherwell: An Attitude Toward Reality, From the Collection of the Walker Art Center."


The Sculpture Garden of Northwestern's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art constitutes one of the most significant groupings of modern sculpture in the region. In 1987, Leigh Block, one of the museum's inaugural donors and a preeminent collector of modern art, bequested a large group of outdoor bronze sculptures to the museum. These pieces formed the core of the collection, which now features monumental sculptures by some of the 20th century's most renowned European and American sculptors, including Barbara Hepworth, Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore.

In 1989, the Block Museum opened its Sculpture Garden with nine of the monumental bronzes donated by Leigh Block. The Sculpture Garden was designed by Chicago architect John Vinci, and through donations and acquisitions, has grown to 22 pieces. Located on the Evanston campus, it is open year-round. For more information about the Sculpture Garden, visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/collections/sculpture.html.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston
campus. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The gallery places emphasis on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows. For information, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or visit the Dittmar Web site at www.norris.northwestern.edu/dittmar.php.

"5+ Genres of Chinese Art: Traditional and Contemporary," Nov. 4 through Dec. 6, 2009, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. This exhibition features Chinese traditional painting, ink painting, folk art, photography and contemporary art by master artists in China. It celebrates the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China. It is presented by the U.S. China Peoples Friendship Association-Chicago Chapter as part of the Annual China Festival 2009 (ACF-09), hosted by Northwestern University. For more information about the festival, visit www.uscpfa.org/chicago. The Dittmar exhibition is co-sponsored by the Northwestern University Asian and Middle East Studies Program. An opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 at the Dittmar Gallery is free and open to the public.

(Nathalie Rayter, a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy, contributed to this story.)
Topics: Campus Life