UMMA Continues U-M Bicentennial Celebration With ‘Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors’

'Swarm Study / II' Added to Stenn Gallery In August

Commemorating the University of Michigan’s Bicentennial in 2017, UMMA has organized a major exhibition drawn from the collections of University alumni. Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors comprises 115 exceptional works of art spanning 3,500 years of art-making from around the world. 

Kenojuak Ashevak, The Enchanted Owl, 1960, stonecut. Power Family Collection, Philip (AB ‘60, Regent ‘87–’98) and Kathy Power. Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts. Photography: Charlie EdwardsPart II, Abstraction, on view July 1–October 29 in UMMA’s A. Alfred Taubman Gallery and August 19–November 26 in the Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery, showcases modern and contemporary art by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Louise Nevelson, Christo, Lorna Simpson, José Parlá, and Do Ho Suh, among others. It also features a fifth-century Korean roof end tile and an Amish quilt, as well as a work by an Inuit master—thus, inviting visitors to explore the strategies of abstraction across a range of media, eras, and genres.

“I hope visitors enjoy works of ‘abstraction’ from diverse cultures, visual traditions, and times, with an inquisitive mind,” says Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art. “Abstraction was not the invention of European Impressionists!”

Taken together, these works offer an unprecedented opportunity to view art that may have never been publicly displayed otherwise—and most certainly, not all together. For visitors, and especially for future Michigan alumni, Victors for Art illuminates the shared passion for art fostered by the Michigan experience.

“More than 80 percent of UMMA's collection comes through donations from private donors, many of whom are University of Michigan alumni,” says Oyobe. “UMMA's exhibitions, permanent gallery displays, and object-based teaching would not exist without them.”

Victors for Art includes Random International’s Swarm Study / II, which combines artificial light with responsive digital technologies in a large-scale site-specific sculpture viewable from the exterior of UMMA’s Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery starting August 19.

Random International, Swarm Study / II, 2011, LEDs, polished brass rods, custom circuit boards, custom driver software and hardware, behavioral algorithm, motion sensors, computer and interface. Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art. Image courtesy of Random InternationalAs people walk by this dynamic installation (right), each of the hundreds of LED lights clipped onto vertically suspended brass rods will respond to and mirror movement in the surrounding environment. The resulting shifts of light that play across the surface of the work are reminiscent of the natural movements of bird or insect swarms, even though a computer behavioral algorithm guides the unique visual patterns of light on view.

Swarm Study / II has been generously loaned by the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art.

“This exhibition provides a special moment for visitors to reflect on the exceptional ways in which art contributes to the expansive and global perspectives cultivated by the educational experience at the University of Michigan, and celebrated by the Bicentennial,” says Jennifer Friess, Assistant Curator of Photography, “I hope our audiences revel in the multitude of ways in which artists articulate their vision and experiences of the world through abstract techniques or ideas — from Pablo Picasso’s abstractions of the human form to Barbara Kruger’s abstract use of language and text.”

This exhibition was organized by Joseph Rosa, Guest Curator, in collaboration with Laura De Becker, Helmut & Candis Stern Associate Curator of African Art, Jennifer Friess, Assistant Curator of Photography, Lehti Mairike Keelmann, Assistant Curator of Western Art, and Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art.

Watch the 'Victors for Art' videoCatalogue

Available in September 2017, the fully illustrated catalogue Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors will be published by the University of Michigan Museum of Art and edited by Joseph Rosa. Collectors’ stories will be profiled on UMMA’s website. To purchase the $35 publication, visit the UMMA Store beginning September 2017.


Lead support for Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan Office of the President, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the University of Michigan Bicentennial Office.

Upcoming Exhibition Programs

Family Art Studio: Printmaking and Beyond – Saturday, July 15

In Conversation: Abstract Expressions in Modern & Contemporary Art in
Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors—Part II: Abstraction
 – Sunday, July 16

Gallery Talk and Tour – July 30, August 27, September 24, October 22

SMTD@UMMA Performance: Heart of Tones – September 16

Family Art Studio: LED / 3D – September 30

Penny Stamps Speaker Series and UMMA Present: Christo, The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, and Work in Progress:
The Mastaba, Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
– October 5

In Conversation: Abstract Moments throughout History in Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors–Part II: Abstraction – October 8

SMTD@UMMA Performance: Abstraction/Exploration – October 22