"We are at one of the most exciting points in our 50-year history," states Blanton director Simone Wicha. "This exhibition gives us an opportunity to highlight the important leadership role that University of Texas alumni play in our cultural landscape. What starts here truly does change the world. We are pleased to share these significant works with our audience and are grateful to the many collectors who made this presentation possible."
The unique nature of the exhibition enables the Blanton to display works outside the scope of its permanent collection-art and artifacts not normally on view in Austin. Among them are an Egyptian lion-headed goddess from 664-30 BC, an ancient Chinese urn from the Liao Dynasty, and an eccentric Mayan flint from the late Classic period. This grouping, along with a selection of tribal masks loaned to the museum from several private collections, marks the Blanton's first major presentation of ethnographic objects. Other highlights include costume designs for the Ballets Russes, a 1916-19 Water Lilies painting by Claude Monet, and a Robert Rauschenberg "Jammer" from 1975.
Spanning many periods, media, and genres, the works in the exhibition allow viewers to make creative connections, explains exhibition curator, Annette DiMeo Carlozzi. A second-century Roman bust of a goddess, for example, will be paired with unusual portrait busts made of chocolate and soap by contemporary artist Janine Antoni in an effort to explore classical concepts of beauty. Sculptor Petah Coyne's Daphne provides a contemporary counterpart to Alfred Maurer's Woman in a Black Dress and the dense detail of a large-scale color photograph of a Brazilian jungle by Thomas Struth conjures a different manner of seeing than the precise clarity of Henri Rousseau's Exotic Landscape with Tiger and Hunters.
Through the Eyes of Texas also explores the stories behind the objects and the lives of the collectors who, after leaving The University of Texas at Austin, have gone on to significantly impact the art world here and abroad. Among the lenders to the exhibition are alumni Jeanne and Michael Klein of Austin, Mary Winton Green of Chicago, Judy and Charles Tate of Houston, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky of Dallas, and Darren Walker and David Beitzel of New York. They-and the many others who have graciously shared their collections-support artists, strengthen arts advocacy and scholarship, and steward important collections that, in many cases, will ultimately be gifted to cultural institutions across the country. Several collectors' voices will be heard through an audio-guide created for the exhibition, as will University of Texas at Austin students and faculty responding to their experiences of this unprecedented assembly of works. An illustrated catalogue will accompany the show.
The exhibition runs from 24 February until 19 May 2013.