Ackland showcases modern masters in ‘Carolina Collects’

“Carolina Collects: 150 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art,” on view through Dec. 4 at the Ackland Art Museum, showcases works from the private collections of 60 Carolina alumni whose degrees span more than 50 years.

The collection offers an overview of art from the past 150 years through paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures, many of which have rarely been exhibited. Works in “Carolina Collects” range from an oil painting by Claude Monet to an Alexander Calder standing mobile, and from a Pablo Picasso gouache to a suspended sculpture by Olafur Eliasson.

“When we initially conceived this exhibition, we knew that art plays an important role in the lives of Carolina alumni,” said museum director Emily Kass. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the breadth and quality of the alumni collections of modern and contemporary art that we’ve been able to discover. The works on view are a testament to the degree to which the University’s graduates have made art an important part of their lives.”

“Carolina Collects’ is a real tribute to the deep intellectualism and sharp visual sense that Carolina has nurtured in so many of its alumni, said Dr. Sheldon Peck of Newton, Mass., who earned bachelor’s and dental degrees at UNC. “I began collecting art seriously 12 years after graduation, always with a sense of quality that I learned from the precious humanities electives I fit into my busy pre-med curriculum at Carolina,” he said.

In conjunction with their Sept. 21 meetings, the University’s Board of Trustees saw the exhibit during a dinner at the museum. Three board members loaned eight artworks for the exhibition: Barbara Rosser Hyde, board vice chair, of Memphis, Tenn.; John G.B. Ellison Jr. of Greensboro; and John L. Townsend III of Greenwich, Conn.

Exhibition curator and Ackland chief curator Peter Nisbet said he knew of only one other public university that has exhibited art owned by alumni, and that was more than 40 years ago. Programs related to “Carolina Collects” are listed at www.ackland.org.