Jasper Johns Exhibition Helps Brenau Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Galleries and Permanent Art Collection
Shows through April 21 Showcase Additional Work by Warhol, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein and Other Modern Arts Icons
Brenau University celebrates the 25th anniversary of the commencement of its acclaimed art galleries programs and the beginnings of one of the most impressive university-owned permanent art collections Jan. 14 through March 17 with a special recognition of where it all began: an exhibition of the work of Augusta, Georgia-born artist Jasper Johns.
Johns, whose aunts Eunice and Gladys graduated from Brenau Women’s College, was the featured artist in the first exhibition in Sellars Gallery, one of three permanent art exhibition venues on the historic campus. The 85-year-old artist’s work once again will be featured during the Brenau Galleries anniversary celebration, along with those of some of his contemporaries in the modern and pop art world – all selections from the university’s permanent collection, which now comprises more than 6,000 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and other works.
The new curated exhibition includes 29 prints that Johns created between 1972 and 2014 from the collection of master printmaker and longtime Johns collaborator Bill Goldston, who assisted with the gallery installation. Sellars Gallery is in the Simmons Visual Arts Center at 200 Boulevard SE on the Gainesville campus.
The Prints of Jasper Johns exhibition runs concurrently with the university’s Postwar Modernists exhibit at the John S. Burd Center’s Leo Castelli Gallery, 429 Academy St. on the Gainesville campus. That show, which runs Jan. 14 through April 21, features work from the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois and Helen Frankenthaler.
Opening receptions for both exhibitions, which are free and open to the public, are from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 21. The Prints of Jasper Johns will be on display from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Postwar Modernists can be viewed by appointment only. To schedule a visit, call (770) 534-6263.
Docent-led tours of The Prints of Jasper Johns are available for groups of five or more adults from Feb. 1 to March 17. Tours, which must be reserved at least two weeks in advance, can be scheduled by calling (770) 534-6263 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although Brenau University is the academic partner of the High Museum in Atlanta, the university’s president, Ed Schrader, said that exhibitions like these demonstrate that it is not necessary for people to trek to Atlanta to experience interesting, significant art.
“Brenau’s focus on fine art – and what we do with it – is part of our mission to provide opportunities to experience great art not only to our students, faculty and staff but also to residents and visitors to Northeast Georgia,” he said. “We did not build a permanent collection of great art as an investment for the sake of collecting. We built it to share with the world as much as we can.”
Schrader’s predecessor, John S. Burd, launched an initiative close to 30 years ago to improve significantly Brenau’s then-not-so-impressive permanent collection. Through Johns, Burd met the artist’s longtime friend and business associate, the New York gallerist Leo Castelli, who Burd persuaded to join the Brenau Board of Trustees. When Brenau held its first show in the new gallery it had carved out of space in the old library building on campus, the exhibition featured 29 Johns pieces from Castelli’s permanent collection.
Johns’ works by then had already shattered sales records. His 1959 painting False Start sold for $17 million in 1988, at the time the highest price ever paid for the work of a living artist. It reclaimed the record when it was resold in 2006 for $80 million.
Getting Johns and Castelli involved “was one of the best things that ever happened to Brenau,” Burd said.
“Brenau is highly regarded in the arts, and we are frequently asked by other universities and higher education institutions if they can build their shows around our collection,” he said. “I am so grateful to see Brenau where it is today. I’m not sure I ever dreamed our collection would be as fine as it is.”
Although neither Johns nor Goldston will be able to attend the opening reception, Brenau University Galleries Director Nichole Rawlings said that both collaborated on planning and installing the installation. While Johns will not be on campus in-person for the three month exhibit, the installation certainly bears his own personal touch.
“In fact,” she said, “Bill sent us a small hand-made model of Sellars Gallery that he had created with Johns’ input. There were to-scale pictures of each print glued in.”
For more information on Brenau’s art collection and upcoming exhibits, visit http://galleries.brenau.edu.