Featuring more than 50 works from the permanent collection, this year-long exhibition focuses on reuniting the audience with some of the most compelling and historically significant works from the Taubman Museum of Art’s holdings. Many of the works included in the reinstallation are destination pieces that people travel great distances to view, but of late have been in storage or loaned to other museums for important nationally touring shows.
While Reunion is just a small sampling of the 2,155 works in the collection acquired over the last 60 years, it reveals the range and diversity of the many paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative pieces that have often been hidden behind closed doors. It also seeks to reinvigorate familiar signature works by presenting them in new settings, paired with objects to create unexpected results for casual visitors and scholars alike.
The prestigious “pilgrimage” group includes works by Thomas Hart Benton, Thomas Eakins, Susan Macdowell Eakins, George Inness, Judith Leiber, Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Robert Henri, and John Henry Twachtman. Like the collection, half of the show is light sensitive work on paper, meaning that a number of pieces will be rotated in and out, giving viewers a chance to see new work periodically through the run of the show. From tiny couture handbags (Leiber) to the giant Perpetual Motion machine (by eccentric artist Harry Leroy Brunson), there is something for everyone in Reunion.
Reunion is also a chance to get to know the collection better. Centered on American art between the Civil War and the end of World War I, the Taubman Museum’s collection contains excellent examples Post-World War II pieces, impressive groupings of modern and contemporary work from artists of the American Southeastern region, and one of the most distinguished collections of twentieth century American folk art in the South. Further complementing the regional and national holdings is the Peggy Macdowell Thomas Trust artwork by the American artist Thomas Eakins, and his wife and sister-in-law who lived in Roanoke, as well as works donated by the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and other generous individuals and families from the region who have helped make the collection what it is today.
Also represented in this rethink of the collection are overlooked jewels nominated by the museum’s corps of five Adjunct Curators — pieces drawn from the areas of Southeastern art, folk art, photography, contemporary art, and ceramics that are worthy of new consideration. This group includes pieces by Leonard Baskin, Isabel Bigelow, James Crable, Burlon Craig, Howard Finster, Audrey Flack, E. Antoinette Hale, Ben Owen III, Betty Parsons, and James Wolfe.