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Last modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Masterworks of the IU Art Museum unveiled in new book

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 5, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Where can you find masterworks by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte and Jackson Pollock along with decorative and ceremonial art objects from all around the world? The answer has long lain at the heart of the Indiana University Bloomington campus, but now it's also coming to a coffee table near you.

Baden and Gealt

Linda Baden (left) and Adelheid Gealt authored the book "Masterworks of the IU Art Museum."

Print-Quality Photo

The Indiana University Art Museum has compiled 160 of its greatest treasures into a beautifully illustrated and richly narrated book, due for release this month from Indiana University Press. With a forward by IU President Michael A. McRobbie, Masterworks from the Indiana University Art Museum is written by Museum Director Adelheid Gealt and curators Diane Pelrine, Adriana Calinescu, Judith Stubbs and Jennifer McComas. Linda Baden, the museum's associate director of editorial services, edited the volume.

Each object is presented through a full-page color photograph and a text entry prepared by the curator of that section of the museum. Ranging from an ancient Egyptian gold bull dating from the third millennium B.C. to contemporary American painter Robert Colescott's Lightning Lipstick, the selections represent the full range of art in the museum's 30,000-piece collection.

"Every major art-producing culture throughout time is represented in our collection," Gealt said. "This book contains the very best of the best."

The book is divided into sections for the museum's various collections: Africa; Ancient Egypt, the Near East, and the Classical World; Asia; the Pre-Columbian Americas; the South Pacific; the West before 1800 and the West after 1800. Each section begins with an overview of that collection before delving into each object's history, artistic qualities, cultural significance and importance within the artistic movements of the period.

Baden's introduction to the book also describes the museum's rich heritage, which began with revered IU President Herman B Wells' original vision of Indiana University as the "cultural crossroads of Indiana." Wells hired Henry Hope to establish the museum, and Hope initiated the collection with 20th-century American painter Stuart Davis's iconic Swing Landscape (pictured on the book's cover). Hope passed on the directorship to Thomas Solley in 1971, and it was during Solley's tenure that the collection truly gathered momentum, notably with the creation of the IU Art Museum building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei.

The book's more than 200 photographs are the work of Michael Cavanagh and Kevin Montague, both photographers with the museum's staff since 1984. Their extensive experience with the objects allows them to create unusually lifelike representations that capture not only the appearance but also the impact and presence of these masterworks.

"This was like working with the greatest hits," Cavanagh said. "We were real happy and eager to do this project. This was our big chance to do the whole thing our way, and to do it with over 20 years of experience under our belts. It was a real pleasure."

Gealt described the book as a "library-worthy" volume that can be used by researchers whose work relates to the featured objects. But she said the book is also accessible to those without a background in art.

"People interested in the arts don't have to know anything except that they like art, and after reading one of these entries they will have gained the knowledge to understand our work," she said. "This is my idea of a perfect book, because the pictures live on their own page, and if you want to read you have wonderful writing, but if you're more of a looker, like I am, you can just look at the beautiful photographs."

The Indiana University Art Museum is located on 7th Street in the heart of the Bloomington campus. The Indiana University Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m., and includes Angles Café & Gift Shop. The Art Museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission is always free and open to the public. More information on all exhibitions and programs can be found at www.artmuseum.iu.edu.

For more information or to buy a copy, visit http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/.