Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 1, 2002Volume 30, Number 16

Artist and collector Katherine Dreier is pictured at the 1948 exhibition that is being recreated in a new show at the Yale Art Gallery.

Gallery marks anniversary of major
gift by recreating 1948 show

The Yale University Art Gallery has re-created a 1948 exhibition of modernist art to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its receipt of the Société Anonyme collection, which includes some of the most significant works of the early 20th century.

"The 1948 Directors of the Société Anonyme Exhibition" is a re-presentation of an exhibition which opened at Yale in March 1948, showing the work of the artists and directors of the Société Anonyme: Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Henry Campendonk, Naum Gabo, Wasily Kandinsky and the group's prime mover, Katherine Dreier.

Organized in its 2002 manifestation by Jennifer Gross, the Seymour H. Knox Jr. Curator of European and Contemporary Art, the exhibition is based on a loosely formed checklist and five installation photographs made of the 1948 exhibition, which celebrated Dreier's 70th birthday. The original exhibition featured 59 works; owing to the loss or fragility of some of the works in the original exhibition, the current display includes 43 works -- most from Yale's collection and the remainder from other institutions and private collectors.

American artist and collector Katherine Dreier (1877-1952) teamed up with the artists Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and Man Ray (1890-1976) in 1920 to form "Société Anonyme" (the French phrase for "incorporated"), an association to promote "the so-called Modern Expression of Art."

In the fall of 1941, Dreier, who was passionately dedicated to educating young people about modern art and was frustrated in her desire to found a public museum at her estate in West Redding, Connecticut, signed a deed giving the collection of the Société Anonyme to Yale.

In a letter to Yale President Charles Seymour in 1941, Dreier wrote of her gift to Yale: "The Collection has been assembled, guarded and sent out on its mission during the past twenty-one years with so much love, in which many artists joined, that we are happy to have it where it will continue to do its work. . . . It seems to both Mr. Duchamp and myself a very marvelous ending to have the Collection housed in perpetuity where thousands of young people, from all over country, may see and study these new forms."

"The 1948 Directors of the Société Anonyme Exhibition" will be on view through March 30. The exhibition is supported by an endowment made possible by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Robert Lehman Exhibition and Publication Fund and the Susan Morse Hilles Fund.


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