A collection of artwork newly installed in the Tea Room in the Social Sciences Research Building highlights a partnership between the Division of the Social Sciences and the Smart Museum of Art and emphasizes the place of abstract art in challenging the mind.
Ward Lockwood, Gold Growth (Golden Growth), 1957, oil on canvas, 46 5/8 x 28 5/8 in, The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund Kunstadter. Image ©2018 courtesy of The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago
“Like the scholarship of Clifford Geertz, John Hope Franklin and Hanna Gray, so many of the classic writings produced at Chicago in the social sciences move between abstraction and representation to reveal new understandings of social worlds,” said Mark Bradley, deputy dean of the Division and the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor of History. “The diverse and inclusive collection of abstract expressionist art in the Tea Room speaks to the enduring centrality of the rich interplay between theory and practice in the work of faculty and graduate students in the Division.”
The five pieces include works from American and international artists, including Margo Hoff, a Chicago-based artist, whose work Stage Fright was selected as a comment on the many workshops and presentations held in the Tea Room, and Alexander Istrati, whose work Untitled [Abstraction], was featured in a 2015 special exhibition, Expressionist Impulses, at the Smart.
“This new installation of vibrant, abstract paintings mirrors the colorful discussions and thought-provoking presentations that regularly take place in this historic setting. By situating these works in a space well-known for rigorous discourse, these paintings can enter the conversation and spark new discussions,” said Berit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives, who worked closely with Bradley in developing the project.
This collaboration between the Smart and the Division reflects the Smart’s aim to bring art into daily life at the University. The relaunch of the Art to Live With program and a more active stewardship of the campus collection are additional ongoing efforts.
Margo Hoff, Stage Fright, 1953, oil on board, 40 x 20 3/16 x 2 3/4 in, The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund Kunstadter. Image ©2018 courtesy of The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago
“This collaboration with the Division of the Social Sciences is a natural extension of that effort and the conversations we are having this spring as we use the exhibition Expanding Narratives to openly examine the composition of our own collection and the roles that museums and other art spaces can play in supporting the intellectual life of our community,” said Alison Gass, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum.
The four portraits previously on display in the Tea Room will be professionally cleaned and repaired as needed. Once those process are complete, all will move to new locations that illuminate their distinguished legacies. The portrait of Robert Park, under whose leadership the Chicago School of Sociology attained prominence, will be hung in the Department of Sociology. The portrait of Leonard D. White, who influenced the field of public administration through both scholarship and service, will be in Political Science. Quincy Wright, a scholar made pioneering contributions through his theories of war, will be hung in the Committee on International Relations. George E. Vincent, whose distinguished university career included administrative leadership roles in the College, will be in the West Tower Reading Room of Harper Library.
The installation, which will last until March 2019 and may be renewed for an additional year, is supported through divisional funding.
“I am grateful to the Smart Museum for their guidance in creating an installation that speaks so clearly to the traditions of discourse and discovery for which the Tea Room is recognized. I look forward to our students, faculty, and other colleagues experiencing these works,” said Amanda Woodward, the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology and interim dean of the Division of the Social Sciences.