, U.Va.

In the News

A powerful multisensory installation of sculpture and sound by American contemporary artist, poet and activist Vanessa German will be on view at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia Feb. 22 through July 7, 2019. The major work, which combines figures without their heads, heads without their bodies, found objects and ephemera, grapples with some of the most profound challenges of contemporary life, including violence, loss and inequity, particularly in communities of color and for the LGBTQ community.

Entitled sometimes. we. cannot. be. with. our. bodies., the installation was originally presented at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2017. It was organized for the Fralin by Matthew McLendon, the Museum’s J. Sanford Miller Family director.

German has described the installation as “a dimensional living reckoning. the living reckoning is bold,erruptive,disruptive work against systems & pathologies that oppress & subvert overt & covert violence onto & into the lives & humanity of marginalized people on this land.”

In 2018, artists and curators across the United States have been crafting brilliant exhibitions across the US, exploring themes of identity and community in innovative ways. Ebony G. Patterson made a maximalist tribute to victims of violence in her home country of Jamaica, while Joel Otterson crafted work recalling his parents’ professions as a seamstress and plumber. Indigenous artists took the stage at the Anchorage Museum’s Unsettled and Jeffrey Gibson’s This is the Day at the Wellin Museum. The enthralling official Obama portraits, painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, were revealed at the National Gallery in DC, putting Black fine artists into the national consciousness. This list is an insight into the tastes of our US writers and the shows that moved them.


8. Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia

The New Criterion

This year in museums

Dec 18, 2018

It is not news that the United States—and, perhaps, much of the rest of the world—has become an angrier place, filled with protests and expressions of contempt. So it probably does not come as a surprise that museums around the country and elsewhere have been the site of exhibitions, lectures, and impromptu demonstrations against the very institutions that reveal the level of current and overall discontent.


Museums have sought to get ahead of this discontent by staging exhibitions and talks that look at visual manifestations of protest. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston offered a month-long series of talks this fall about propaganda. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta displayed sculptural installations and screened a documentary about Tommie Smith’s raised-fist gesture during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. And the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art offered a visual guide to twentieth-century protests by artists.

On 12 August of this year, my town of Charlottesville, Virginia, reluctantly commemorated the first anniversary of a deadly “Unite the Right” rally. We woke recalling last summer, when throngs of white nationalists raged here, spilling from Court Square past places where we had eaten birthday dinners or lay in yogic shavasana. For this dark observance, the new governor sent 1,000 riot police to blockade downtown like an apartheid of grief. We passed police checkpoints to file on to Fourth Street, to scrawl chalk hymns on the pavement near the place where Heather Heyer was killed and 19 others were battered. All year long, at home, at work, some of us have struggled to reconcile that racist display with what we find lovely about our town.

Two days after that painful anniversary, I attended a public event called Signs of Change, the first in a series that aims to educate participants about our town’s bleak racial history and encourage reflection through artmaking. Part of a national initiative called For Freedom: 50 States, Charlottesville’s Signs was largely designed by the Fralin, a museum which sits on the University of Virginia’s immaculate grounds. Museum educators such as Lisa Jevack chose to focus on seminal events that contorted Charlottesville’s African American communities, including the demolition of Vinegar Hill. “We hoped participants would come away shocked, with their eyes opened,” Jevack said.

Art & Object

A New Origin Story for Georgia O’Keeffe

Dec 05, 2018

Before her big break in New York, Georgia O'Keeffe was getting invaluable lessons and inspiration at the University of Virginia.

The scripted origin story of American modernist Georgia O’Keeffe usually goes something like this: photographer and modern art gallerist Alfred Stieglitz saw her abstract charcoal drawings on New Year’s Eve of 1915 and immediately admired their radical quality. “Finally, a woman on paper!” he famously exclaimed. “They’re the purest, finest, sincerest things that have entered [my gallery] in a long while.” A few months later he exhibited ten of the drawings at 291, his avant-garde midtown Manhattan gallery, in a debut that was a surefire path to art world stardom.

That chain of events surely happened, but pinpointing O’Keeffe’s genesis at that particular moment ignores her arduous journey learning to translate the real-life objects she observed into a sensuously abstract language of shapes and forms. “There’s nothing less real than realism,” O’Keeffe is often quoted as saying, but how she got there is a skipped-over part of her story. That chapter began far removed from New York and Stieglitz (her future husband), in the historic and mountainous surroundings of Charlottesville, Virginia.

WHY GO: First and foremost, Charlottesville VA is a college town: home to the Thomas Jefferson designed University of Virginia. But it’s also part of a region rich in the arts, spirit making, and full of creative entrepreneurs and chefs with diverse backgrounds. 

I discovered that residents of Charlottesville want you to come and see what they are really like, and enjoy some incredible sights, food, and drink while doing so. Discover Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic origins, the only Australian Aboriginal Art Museum in the United States, a top art gallery tucked miles away on hilly farmland, a cattle ranch distillery with some of the best bourbon and burgers (made from mash-fed cows) you’ll ever scarf down, the only Sake Brewery in Virginia, a thinking (wo)man’s Wine Shop, great shopping, fantastic restaurants, and so much more. 

On “The Brady Bunch,” it was “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” This month in the art world, it’s “Georgia Georgia, Georgia.” Georgia O’keeffe can be found around every corner from exhibits across the country to auctions.

While attention to O’Keeffe has been given for going on 100 years, surprises are still being discovered, including a mostly unknown sibling possessing major talent of her own.

With an open palm, Teri Greeves gestures to a handful of small, intricately beaded Kiowa Indian cradleboards lined up inside a glass display case.

Kiowa Indians are known for their abstract beadwork motifs, she tells the small crowd that’s gathered to hear her speak at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia. And while these cradleboards were made in the 19th century, likely for dolls, they’re not unlike the one that swaddled Greeves, a member of the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, when she was a newborn on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation in the 1970s. 

“I came home in a fully beaded cradleboard. From the moment I was born, I was encased in glass beads,” she says. Her Italian father made the wooden spines to anchor and support the swaddling sack, and he, together with Greeves’ Kiowa and Comanche mother, designed the beadwork. A Shoshone Indian woman, a mother figure to Greeves’ mother, beaded the design to the sack. It likely required hundreds of hours of work, says Greeves, and it makes her feel extraordinarily loved.

Near the end of his preseason press conference at John Paul Jones Arena last week, University of Virginia men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett went out of his way to laud former players Malcolm Brogdon, Joe Harris and Justin Anderson, who announced a few days earlier that they are collaborating with former UVA football star Chris Long to bring clean water to Africa.

“That warmed my heart more than almost anything – [their] thinking of others,” Bennett said.

At the root of their philanthropy is a shared experience at UVA, where being a student is about so much more than any one thing that you happen to do while you’re on Grounds – even more than, say, beating Duke.


Q. Other than John Paul Jones Arena, what’s your favorite place on Grounds?

Braxton Key: “I like going by [the Fralin Museum of Art]. I have a class over there – Greek art history. It’s just something different, a way to get your mind away from basketball. I always walk around the building just to see different pieces of art.”


The New York Times

Back to School With a Side of Art

Oct 25, 2018

Modest little college museums? Maybe they exist somewhere, on quiet campuses across the nation, but there are also magnificent university-affiliated institutions like these. And in terms of this season’s wide-ranging exhibitions, none seem limited by geography. Georgia O’Keeffe, queen of the Southwest, is in the Jeffersonian South; Andy Warhol, king of New York night life, is hanging in Silicon Valley; and lots of ancient Middle Eastern objects have settled in Philadelphia.


“Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings,” Fralin Museum of Art

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia presents Unexpected O'Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings, on view Oct. 19, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019. This rare exhibition explores Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolor studies produced during her time at the University of Virginia (UVA) in the summers from 1912 to 1916, and will include several key sketches and paintings as well as other works demonstrating her developing style. This is the first time the watercolors have been on view outside the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“It is an honor and a thrill to bring Georgia O’Keeffe’s works created in and around the University of Virginia back to UVA for the first time since they were produced,” said Matthew McLendon, J. Sanford Miller Family director at The Fralin. “Visitors will be able to walk out of the gallery and find the same points-of-view O’Keeffe used; they can experience the same qualities of light.”

Ask people to describe a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, and most will mention prominent flowers, striking colors, New Mexico landscapes and cows’ skulls. But before she made a name for herself on a national and international scale, a young O’Keeffe was filling a notebook with watercolor depictions of the Rotunda, Minor Hall, gardens and other features of the University of Virginia.

“Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings,” which opens Friday at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, gives visitors an unprecedented glimpse of paintings she made during her time studying and teaching art in Charlottesville about a century ago. Among its treasures are watercolor studies of what were then new features on the UVa Grounds, such as the new Law Building, known these days as Minor Hall.

Between 1912 and 1916, O’Keeffe, who’d already been working as a commercial artist, spent her summers in Charlottesville with her mother, who ran a boarding house that still serves as student housing; these days, it’s for members of UVa’s rugby team. Although UVa did not admit women at the time, women were permitted to take selected summer term classes, and O’Keeffe studied art with Alon Bement and later served as his teaching assistant.

radioIQ | wvtf

The Unexpected Georgia O'Keeffe

Oct 16, 2018

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe is remembered as a painter of Southwestern landscapes and flowers, but it turns out her early works were done at the University of Virginia where she studied and taught.  Now, UVA plans to show those as part of an exhibit called Unexpected O’Keeffe. 

As a young artist, Georgia O’Keeffe got off to a promising start in New York, but when her family fell on hard times she decided to abandon her career as an artist and return to her parents’ home in Charlottesville. Professor Elizabeth Turner says women were admitted to summer courses at UVA, and Georgia’s sisters were learning about an exciting new way to paint.

Famed artist Georgia O’Keeffe studied at the University of Virginia every summer from 1912 to 1916, taking courses designed for art teachers and teaching some classes of her own.

When she arrived, however, she was nearly ready to give up on art, lacking inspiration and struggling to work through her family’s financial struggles and, later, her mother’s death.

It was on these Grounds that the clouds slowly began to lift for her.

This was where she began her early experiments in abstract painting, drawing the buildings and gardens that she walked past every day on her way to class in Cocke Hall on the Lawn – watercolors like the one below, sure to thrill Cavaliers today.

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia presents “Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings.” The exhibition, which opens on October 19, will be on view through January 27, 2019.

 The exhibition includes key sketches and paintings as well as other works that highlight the artist’s developing style. “This is the first time the watercolors have been on view outside the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico,” the museum says.

“Unexpected O’Keeffe” explores the artist’s period of development which is understudied and showcases the O’Keeffe’s early attraction to Modernism and Abstraction. While in Charlottesville, using her surroundings on the Grounds of UVA, the artist worked to simplify and refine her compositions.

According to the museum, “O’Keeffe showed a dramatic shift to the ideas of Modernism. In 1912, she took a summer course taught by Alon Bement who introduced her to the revolutionary ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow, his colleague. Dow encouraged imagination and self-expression versus literal interpretation.”

This spring, the artist and activist organisation For Freedoms embarked on what it called the “largest creative collaboration in US history”—the 50 State Initiative, which aims to produce public art programmes centred around civic engagement in the lead-up to the midterm elections on 6 November. In the US’s liberal art centres, the project has found an easy entry, but even in many right-leaning states, it has attracted eager participants and helped to support existing activism. 

More than 200 institutions and almost 400 artists have joined For Freedoms’ effort. The most high-profile component is the erection of artist-designed billboards in every state, as well as Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. This is a particular challenge in the four states that do not allow billboards: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont. For Freedoms planned to get around the restrictions by installing banners, but finding a way to hang a large, politically charged image in public can be difficult in conservative places. That is what the artist Kate Wool, who has spent years agitating for gun-safety legislation, has found.


Here are some of artnet News’s highlights of museum shows opening across the United States as we kick off a new season:

28. “Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings” at the Fralin Museum of Art

For the first time, watercolors by Georgia O’Keeffe are leaving her eponymous museum in Santa Fe and traveling to the University of Virginia’s art museum. In the summers from 1912–1916, the artist produced watercolor studies on the campus of UVA.

October 19, 2018–January 27, 2019; Fralin Museum of Art, 155 Rugby Rd, Charlottesville, Virginia

Fifty-two crowdfunding campaigns for a US-wide public art project that aims to bring together art and civic engagement are launching today (4 June). If successful, the non-partisan platform For Freedoms's Kickstarter campaigns—one for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—will bring artist-designed billboards and civic-minded programming to partner institutions across the US. Led by the artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, who founded For Freedoms in 2016, the 50 State Initiative is due to be held this autumn and timed to coincide with the November mid-term elections. The project is touted as potentially the largest ever public art project in the US.

Inspired by the grassroots campaigns of politicians like Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul, each of the crowdfunding projects, due to end on 3 July, has a $10 starting point for a goal of $3,000. “We’d rather get 300 people giving us $10 than two people giving us $3,000,” Thomas says.

“At the base of this [project] is a desire to increase the quality of civic conversations and inject art into public discourse,” Gottesman says. “The scale of it matches what our intentions are.” To date, over 200 museums, cultural organisations and places of learning have signed on, from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, to the Detroit Institute of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, and Thomas estimates that 300 to 500 artists will be involved.

Doug Harnsberger first saw the sketch in 2012 while searching through Thomas Jefferson’s papers: a thumbnail drawing of a circle with spokes radiating outwards.

For 200 years, the sketch was mislabeled as a skylight at the University of Virginia’s Rotunda. But Harnsberger had written his thesis on an architectural style of roofs known as Delorme domes. The sketch was the first plans for the Rotunda’s dome, he realized, setting off a yearslong effort to recreate Jefferson’s original vision.

“It’s just a beautiful, simple design,” he said. “It was in use in Europe for hundreds of years. Then Jefferson brought it to America, and for 25 years, every dome was made this way.”

This fall, thousands of billboard and lawn signs will be erected all over the country in advance of the midterms, bearing names of politicians up for election. But a new campaign by the organization For Freedoms aims to use those tools not to promote specific candidates but to galvanize debate and political participation through art. The organization has enlisted artists like Sam Durant, Theaster Gates and Marilyn Minter to create public artwork and lead town halls as part of a $1.5 million-dollar campaign.

“We are hoping to bring art to the center of public life in the lead-up to the midterms, which is where we think art should belong,” Eric Gottesman, one of the organization’s founders, said in a phone interview.

A central aspect of the effort, called the 50 State Initiative, will be a fund-raising campaign to put up billboards across the country starting in September. Fifty-two Kickstarter campaigns will seek to raise $3,000 per state plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Dozens of artists, including the three mentioned above as well as Tania Bruguera, Trevor Paglen and Carrie Mae Weems, will contribute billboards. Mr. Paglen’s work, for example, will focus on the ethics of data collection; Ms. Bruguera will work with the Rhode Island School of Design to create a billboard there.

If you’d like to bring more art into your life but you’ve always felt intimidated by gallery settings, it’s time to head for the great indoors.

Through Sept. 30, the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia is presenting “In My Room: Artists Paint the Interior 1950-Now.” The new exhibition is taking the concept of the landscape and switching the perspective around. This time, the focus is on rooms and other indoor spaces that can offer multiple ways to engage and layers of insights to consider. And the interior you end up exploring may be uniquely your own.

“We bring our own biographies, our own experiences, to the art,” said Matthew McLendon, the Fralin’s director and chief curator.

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia is hosting an exhibition of works titled “In My Room: Artists Paint the Interior 1950-Now.” The show runs through September 2018.

The exhibition explores how artists painted indoor spaces and the various reasons behind it. “A common genre in western painting, landscape painting is understood as a window to the world according to the artist and theorist Leon Battista Alberti and his ideas about the picture plane known as Alberti’s Window,” the museum says. “But, it was after the Industrial Revolution that modern art turned to the interior. Artists started depicting windows into other rooms instead of showing the outside world in their artworks,” it added.

The show raises questions about this shift in the mode of representation and tries to address them. “Painting indoor spaces continued throughout the 20th century for a variety of psychological, interpersonal and biographical reasons. The display takes into account various factors such as architecture, design, and still-life and also the persistent theme of the artist’s studio,” the museum writes. This change from the exterior to the interior also evolved over time. According to the museum, “the show also puts forth questions such as whether social and political events on a global scale affect representations of a space, or whether the presentation of space is more indicative of the artist’s mind or state-of-mind.”

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia presents In My Room: Artists Paint the Interior 1950-Now, May 18-Sept. 30, 2018. The exhibition looks at the inverse of the landscape: the interior. 

Landscape painting, a common genre in western painting, is understood as a window onto the world thanks to artist and theorist Leon Battista Alberti and his ideas about the picture plane known as Alberti’s Window. After the Industrial Revolution, however, modern art erupted with the interior. Notably, modern artists began depicting windows into other rooms instead of painting views of the outside world.

“The interior space has an ability to prompt the viewer to ask questions and to view a space with new perspective,” said Matthew McLendon, director and chief curator of the Fralin Museum of Art. “In an untitled work by Alex Katz, for example, a bed in disarray invites the questions whether someone has left in a rush, to where and why? Interior with Doorway by Richard Diebenkorn uses light and shadow in juxtaposition creating a sculptural feel to everyday objects.”

Events Of The Week

May 15, 2018


In My Room: Artists Paint the Interior, 1950-Now
May 18-September 30, 2018

Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia

Landscape painting, a common genre in western painting, is understood as a window onto the world thanks to artist and theorist Leon Battista Alberti and his ideas about the picture plane known as Alberti’s Window. After the Industrial Revolution, however, modern art erupted with the interior. Notably, modern artists began depicting windows into other rooms instead of painting views of the outside world.


Natural Beauty

Apr 13, 2018

When most people think of research, they think of scientists in white lab coats, determinedly peering into microscopes and stirring beakers full of brightly colored liquid. Thanks to an $815,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UVA students and scholars are now enjoying increased opportunities for study in the arts.

The grant—which is the result of a cooperative effort between the College of Arts & Sciences, The Fralin Museum of Art, and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection—provides four years of funding for the study of the indigenous arts of Australia and the Americas at UVA. The University has contributed an additional $886,000, bringing the total investment over four years to $1.7 million.

Although the initiative is large and multifaceted, the focal point is a new, interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the study of these art forms. In addition to centralizing the University’s research efforts, the center provides students with new opportunities for experiential learning, including object-oriented classes and internships.

Standing in The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA, surrounded by paintings from across the 19th and 20th centuries, you notice something about the passage of time in the museum’s current exhibition, “Feminine Likeness: Portraits of Women by American Artists, 1809-1950.” There’s a subtle shift as years slip by, a transformation in the representation of femininity and codes of womanhood.

But if the work makes it seem that artists do the representing, you’re only seeing half the story. “It was always a give and take between artists and the people being painted,” says curator Jennifer Camp. “A lot of these portraits reflect the self-representation of the sitter as much as the representation or painting by the artist.”

In other words, the faces of women on display don’t belong exclusively to those who wield the brush. It’s a dialogue that echoes changing norms on both sides of the canvas.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Thomas Jefferson was never a trained architect. In the American Colonies in the 1760s, there were none to study under.

But, with pen and ink and newly invented graph paper, Jefferson sketched and designed houses, universities and public buildings that would form the foundation of the new Republic.

His architectural legacy is profiled in a new exhibit, “From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design,” at the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art.

Thomas Jefferson was never a trained architect. In the American Colonies in the 1760s, there were none to study under.

But, with pen and ink and newly invented graph paper, Jefferson sketched and designed houses, universities and public buildings that would form the foundation of the new Republic.

His architectural legacy is profiled in a new exhibit, “From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design,” at the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art.

While Jefferson may be best known for his Academical Village at the University of Virginia and Monticello, UVa architectural history professor Richard Guy Wilson pulled from Jefferson’s original drawings, books and source material to create the exhibit.


Picasso loved cars, especially American cars, and Samuel Kootz, the resourceful and entrepreneurial New York art dealer, loved Picasso. In 1947 Kootz made a trade with Picasso: an Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 convertible finished in “Nantucket Cream” was swapped for a large still life of a kitchen table upon which a chicken laid with its throat cut. (The instrument of slaughter was at its side.) But, Picasso did not drive. That was left to his chauffeur, Marcel Boudin. One night Marcel borrowed the car to go into the country. He smashed the Olds into a tree, totaling both the car and his job with Picasso.

Ten years later in 1957, Kootz and Picasso did another car-for-paintings deal. The car, which Picasso nicknamed “Baby,” was a Lincoln convertible with every imaginable electrical gadget. Kootz had just retired this vehicle for a Lincoln Continental Mark IV. Making an exchange with Picasso was an exceptional trade-in, considering that it let Kootz buy five, 1920s era paintings that had never been offered for sale. This would make Nelson Rockefeller, Kootz’s client, very happy. Even better, it would help undermine Kootz’s competitor, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, one Picasso’s early supporters.

PURCHASE, NY.- From Motherwell to Hofmann: The Samuel Kootz Gallery, 1945–1966 is the first exhibition to examine the critical role Kootz (1898–1982) played in establishing modern American art as an international force. It focuses on the ways in which Kootz’s New York gallery (operational 1945–1966) was instrumental in promoting the careers of several major Abstract Expressionist artists, including William Baziotes, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, and Robert Motherwell. It features works by these artists and focuses on a selection of important exhibitions that were held at the Kootz Gallery, including a 1946 show of the collection of Roy R. Neuberger, Kootz’s first customer at the gallery, and founding patron of the Neuberger Museum of Art. Until now, Samuel Kootz has been underrepresented in the scholarship of the postwar period, despite representing much of the major talent in twentieth-century art. The exhibition and associated publication, with essays by noted experts, recasts Kootz, focusing on his writings, relationships with individual artists, collectors, and dealers, and the trajectories of the artists who showed at his gallery, in order to provide a new perspective on this moment in American art. 

The exhibition, organized as Dealer’s Choice: The Samuel Kootz Gallery, 1945-1966 by The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, presents more than 50 works of art and includes highlights such as Adolph Gottlieb’s celebrated paintings, The Frozen Sounds, Number 1 (1951, The Whitney Museum of American Art) and Frozen Sounds II (1952, The Albright-Knox Gallery) that mark the transition from his use of Surrealist ‘pictographs’ to Abstract Expressionist ‘bursts’; Hans Hofmann’s The Vanquished (1959, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive) which illustrates the artist’s famed ‘push-pull’ aesthetic, critical to his teachings and work; William Baziotes’s Figures in Smoke #2 (1947) a recent Fralin acquisition and an important watercolor from a seminal year in Baziotes’s career; and Robert Motherwell’s The Red Skirt (1947, Whitney Museum of American Art) a painting that reflects the artist’s interest in primordial themes, and the first of the large-scale compositions he began in 1947.

Evidence of Thomas Jefferson’s architectural ability abounds in Charlottesville, a city that sits in the shadow of Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and proudly features his Academical Village – collectively, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While the University of Virginia’s Rotunda might be Jefferson’s most beautiful, iconic creation – we’re admittedly biased – the third president left his architectural fingerprints all over the state of Virginia and the early United States of America.

A new exhibition at The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA, “From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture and Design,” chronicles this extensive influence. The many letters, hand-drawn plans, books and models on display testify to Jefferson’s love of architecture, as does a Jefferson quote emblazoned on the wall: “Architecture is my delight and putting up and pulling down is one of my favorite amusements.”

From fabricators to mummy conservators to private collection managers, the art world is full of fascinating jobs you may not have realized even existed. In artnet News’s column “My I Got My Art Job,” we delve into these enviable art-world occupations, asking insiders to share their career path and advice for others who wish to follow in their footsteps.

This week, we spoke with Matthew McLendon, director and chief curator of the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Education: I planned to be an opera singer, so I studied voice intensively. I ended up doing two bachelor’s degrees, my music degree and an art history degree, both at Florida State University. When it came to the second degree, I knew I didn’t want to spend another two full years in Tallahassee, so I went to their study abroad program in London, interning at what was then the Tate Gallery. I never wanted to leave London, so I got a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art there.

Charlottesville is a much-lauded destination for history buffs, foodies and University of Virginia fans. Thanks to the continued efforts of UVA’s Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, it is also a premiere destination for Australian Aboriginal art.

Kluge-Ruhe – home to the most comprehensive collection of Aboriginal art outside of Australia – is the nexus point in a global network connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists with museums all over the world. The Kluge-Ruhe’s collection was established in 1997 when the late businessman and art collector John W. Kluge donated his extensive collection to UVA. The museum now welcomes a constant flow of guest artists, scholars and museum professionals to its stately brick building on Pantops Mountain.


The Wall Street Journal

Architecture to Educate a Nation

Jan 30, 2018

Thomas Jefferson believed with more certainty than any of the other Founding Fathers that it was architecture that provided the ideal way for new nation-builders to express greatness. “From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design,” a new exhibition at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, explores the aspirational ways that Jefferson tried to forge that identity into something both cultured and uniquely American.

Particularly, he saw as role models and inspirations classical buildings that had already stood the test of time, such as Rome’s Pantheon with its astonishing dome (which he knew only from etchings) and, in Paris, the monumentally interminable east front of the Louvre (which he walked past every day when he was American minister to the French court, 1784-89). Jefferson inordinately praised the Maison Carrée in southern France as “one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful and precious morsel of architecture left us by antiquity,” making it the source for one of his best designs, the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.


The University of Virginia has long provided a stage for the arts, and 2017 brought a full list of blockbusters.

There was October’s epic Bicentennial Launch Celebration – one of the biggest arts showcases in all of UVA’s 200 years – plus a star-studded Concert for Charlottesville, a special guest appearance by “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, the reliably high-wattage Virginia Film Festival, and much more besides.

Take a look back at some of the amazing work our students, faculty, alumni and guests produced last year.


It’s a bit chilly in the air-conditioned exhibition room at The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA, but the temperature isn’t what’s giving Rebecca Schoenthal goosebumps. It’s the art.

Specifically, it’s William Baziotes’ cool-toned, blue-hued “Night Form” and Adolph Gottlieb’s earth-toned pictograph, “The Sorceress,” hanging on a Fralin gallery wall, together for the first time since 1947. “Individually, they’re phenomenal works,” says Schoenthal, a mid-century American art expert and curator of exhibitions at The Fralin, explaining that Gottlieb’s pictograph series in particular was crucial to the advent of the Abstract Expressionist movement, which put American art on the map in the 20th century.

Together, the two works open a portal to the past, to September 1947, when UVA alumnus and lawyer-turned-crime-novelist-turned-art-critic-turned-art-dealer Samuel Kootz mounted an exhibition titled “Women” at his eponymous art gallery. “Women” was revolutionary in many ways, from the show’s subject matter to its catalog, for which Kootz enlisted writers like William Carlos Williams and Charles Baudelaire to respond to the paintings on view.


Art is Her Mission

Oct 24, 2017

Carol Angle, M.D., has always made it her mission to solve difficult problems. She spent 45 years at the University of Nebraska Medical Center as a pediatrician, nephrologist, and toxicologist. Over the course of her distinguished career, Angle became known as one of the nation’s leading experts on lead poisoning.

Now retired and living full time in Charlottesville, she is still committed to helping others. This self-described “museum hound” and longtime patron of The Fralin Museum of Art has turned her attention from science and medicine to the art world.

Angle’s fascination with art was born of necessity. “I am profoundly deaf. I have been since the age of 25,” she said. “Because of that, I have always been interested in the visual arts.”

Last year, her interest translated into action when she created the $1 million Angle Exhibition Fund at The Fralin. Her gift is the first endowed fund to support art exhibitions at the museum.

Crozet Gazette

School Notes: October 2017 | Mind's Eye

Oct 06, 2017

Between August 1 and November 10, almost 4,000 area students will visit the Fralin Museum of Art at U.Va. for the annual literacy competition, now in its 31st year, called Writer’s Eye. Using a specially curated collection of paintings, sculpture, and photography for inspiration, Writer’s Eye challenges students to create original poetry and prose based on the art, which they can then submit to be judged anonymously by local writers and educators. Winning entries are awarded prizes, notoriety, and a place in the museum’s printed anthology each year.

Murray Elementary recently sent 45 interested students from its third, fourth, and fifth grades to tour the exhibition, along with their Gifted Resource Teacher, Laura Richardson. “Writer’s Eye is an opt-in field trip,” said Richardson, “and I introduce it to each grade level by doing an in-class exercise in writing a response to art, so the students can see if they like the process.” Students who want to sign up must commit to the writing component (a story of up to 1,000 words or a poem fitting on two pages or less) as part of the experience.

The competition divides entries into groups by grade level—3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and adult—and recognizes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners plus honorable mentions in each group. For the younger kids, Richardson says the event gives them a new way of looking at art. “Developmentally, these students are somewhat newly able to think more abstractly and less literally, and that’s the focus of Writer’s Eye,” she said. “At first they are tempted to be very literal in wanting to label everything, especially in abstract works, but then they transcend that to get to the feeling or the mood of the piece, and they use their imagination to become more responsive.”

C-VILLE Weekly | Fall Arts Preview

Matthew McLendon wants more at The Fralin

Sep 14, 2017

In January, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia welcomed a director and chief curator, Matthew McLendon, formerly with Tate Britain in London, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College and The Ringling Museum of Art, the state art museum of Florida.

While McLendon worked at The Ringling, the art blogazine Hyperallergic named his show “R. Luke DuBois—Now” one of the top 15 exhibitions in the United States. “For me, the most successful exhibitions are ones that pose questions and possibilities for further thought, that leave me wanting more,” McLendon writes in an email. “There is only so much visual information any of us can process in a concentrated setting.”

McLendon’s appreciation of the dynamic relationship between artwork and viewer also informs his vision for The Fralin in its community.

In 1921, Samuel Kootz graduated from the University of Virginia with a law degree. He went on to become one of the 20th century’s most famous American art dealers.

Kootz, who died in 1982, is perhaps most famous for his relationship with Pablo Picasso. After World War II ended, the art dealer flew to France and convinced the famed modernist – who had been forbidden from exhibiting his work in Nazi-occupied Paris – to show his work in America.

Kootz returned home with several Picasso paintings in tow and mounted the first post-war exhibition of Picasso’s work in America at The Samuel Kootz Gallery in New York City. The exhibition sold out on its first day and lines to get in stretched around the block.