From Thursday, February 16, through Tuesday, February 21, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College will demonstrate the critical role that immigrants to the United States have played in the arts, both in their creative contributions as well as their stewardship of the visual arts, with an initiative called, Art-Less.
What this means is that the Museum will de-install or shroud all works of art in its permanent collections galleries that were either created by or given to Wellesley’s art collection by immigrants to the United States. This means approximately 120 works of art—roughly 20 percent of the objects on view in the Museum’s permanent collections galleries—will be either taken down or covered in black cloth.
“Every permanent collections gallery will be affected by the subtraction of works created by or given to the Museum by an immigrant to the United States,” said Claire Whitner, Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Collections, and overseer of the project. “Art-Less demonstrates in stark and indisputable terms the impact of immigration on our collections,” said Lisa Fischman, the Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis, “and we proudly take the opportunity to signal that impact, to honor the gifts of creativity and generosity that make the Davis Museum and the Wellesley community great.”
At the Davis Museum, paintings will be taken off the walls, and objects under cases will be covered in black cloth. Paintings, bronze and wood sculptures, ceremonial masks, and more from the European, American, African, contemporary, and modern collections will be disrupted by this intervention. Absences created by the removal or obscuring of works from view will be marked with labels that indicate “made by an immigrant” or “given by an immigrant.”
In one particularly poignant example, the space that is usually occupied by a stately portrait of George Washington will be bare, even as President’s Day takes place on Monday, February 13. Painted by the Swedish-born artist, Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, who came to the United States in the 1790s, this oil painting was given to the Davis Museum by the Munn family, immigrants to the United States from Sweden after World War II. Another illustration of significant impact will be in the African galleries: visitors will be met with a sea of black cloth as a majority of the works—nearly 80 percent—was donated by the Klejman family, who immigrated to the United States from Poland after World War II, just five years before their daughter became a student at Wellesley College. With the help of arts advocates from cultures worldwide, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College continues to strengthen its culturally diverse collection, which spans global history from antiquity to the present and include masterpieces from almost every continent.
Davis Museum brings ambitious Carlo Dolci exhibit to Wellesley NOTE: as this exhibit is not a part of the permanent collections galleries, its works will remain on view for the six days of Art-less. The Carlo Dolci exhibit runs through July 9.
In addition to Art-less, Wellesley College students are taking to the Academic Quad to raise their voices: