Beat the heat with cool summer shows

Yale College may be in recess, but the university’s numerous museum and library collections are gearing up for an exciting summer of exhibitions and programs. From medieval French manuscripts to contemporary South African art, there is plenty to see and experience at the Beinecke Library, Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, the Whitney Medical Library, and the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington.

Yale College may be in recess, but the university’s numerous museum and library collections are gearing up for an exciting summer of exhibitions and programs. From medieval French manuscripts to contemporary South African art, there is plenty to see and experience at the Beinecke Library, Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, the Whitney Medical Library, and the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington.

“Yale has a wealth of extraordinary collections to explore, all of which complement one another in depth and richness,” said Amy Meyers, director of the Yale Center for British Art. “As a meeting ground between the academy and the wider world, our exhibitions serve as a springboard for a vital exchange that benefits us all.”

The following five shows are but a small selection of everything on view at Yale this summer. In addition to the exhibitions featured below, the Peabody Museum of Natural History continues its run of tiny titans (featuring dinosaur eggs and an exploration of their living descendants — birds) and a meteorite from Mercury; the Yale School of Architecture hosts its annual exhibition of student work; the Sterling Library highlights notable alumni from East Asia, and the Yale Divinity School presents historical records of worldwide student Christian movements from the 1880s to the present.

Most venues are free and open to the public, inviting visitors to stop in for a quick look or spend several hours contemplating paintings, drawings, photographs, rare books, letters, and manuscripts. When temperatures top 90 degrees this summer, Yale’s museums and libraries offer an air-conditioned escape into a world of science, art, and history.

Selling smoke

An exhibition at the Harvey Cushing/John Jay Whitney Medical Library focuses on tobacco advertising and anti-smoking campaigns in the United States and abroad over the past century.

From sultry ladies to Santa to the Marlboro Man, tobacco advertisers have packaged smoking in a variety of ways to lure consumers to different brands. Using celebrity spokespeople, touting health benefits, sponsoring sporting events, and creating games with prizes are just a small sampling of the ways smoking was sold.

On view through August 12, “Selling Smoke: Tobacco Advertising and Anti-smoking Campaigns” features approximately 140 objects, including tobacco advertisements from the William Van Duyn collection of magazine advertisements, ephemera, articles, and photographs at the library. In addition there is a video display showing advertisements from the collection and old cigarette commercials, some featuring “I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and Flintstones cartoon characters, hawking cigarettes. Also on view are anti-smoking campaign materials from public health organizations, including U.S. Surgeons General, tracing worldwide efforts to stamp out smoking.

The Cushing and Whitney Medical Library is open Monday–Thursday 8 a.m.–midnight; Friday 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Sunday 9:30 a.m.–midnight. Admission is free and open to the public. For those unable to visit in person, the library has organized an online version of the exhibition.

Small treasures

While the Beneicke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s exhibition on ties to the German imperial dynasty of Hohenzollern is not to be missed, be sure to check out Encounters: New Small Collections at Beinecke Library. The library is constantly on the lookout for research and teaching materials of all sizes and subjects. Some archives are vast and attract a great deal of attention, while others consist of a single box that reveals a glimpse of a writer’s life or the history of a cultural moment.

This show, on view through Aug. 16, highlights 15 small groups of material that have joined the Beinecke collection in the past five years. Included are the Robert Giraud papers relating to French and Parisian slang; Chinese gaming counters, circa 1700 and 1840; the papers of Ann Corio, 1930–2010, one of the most famous strip-tease artists of the burlesque era; Jewel Welch photographs and other material related to African-American entertainers; the Curtis Granville Jackson scrapbook and papers, relating to the Boy Scouts, 1937–1965; Bette Barber photographs of trucks and truckers; the Joseph Perkins Pulsifer papers, 1832–1856, detailing among other things the political and military activities of the Texas Revolution against Mexico; and four books from the Cathedral Library of Beauvais, France, from the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Beneicke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which will close for renovations following commencement next year, is open Monday–Thursday 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; and Saturday noon–5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

South African Artists

The most recent Yale student-curated exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery features more than 30 artworks produced in South Africa or by South Africans from the late 1960s to the present, a period of immense political and social change. On view through Sept. 14, “Contemporary Art/South Africa” includes work by Gavin Jantjes, William Kentridge, Santu Mofokeng, Zanele Muholi, Robin Rhode, and Sue Williamson, among others, addressing key aspects of the experiences of South Africans and offering multiple perspectives on their lives, society, and world.

The exhibition showcases a small but growing body of South African artworks acquired in recent years by the art gallery alongside loans from public and private collections, highlighting the vibrancy of South African culture and society. It also invites viewers to question whether it is possible to understand a country through the art it has produced and to understand contemporary art through the country in which it was made.

The Yale University Art Gallery is open Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Through a Photographer’s Lens

Across the street at the Yale Center for British Art is an exhibition highlighting a different part of the world. “Bruce Davidson and Paul Caponigro: Two American Photographers in Britain and Ireland” pairs for the first time nearly 150 photographs by two of the most distinguished photographers of their generation. In trips to Britain in 1960 and 1965, Davidson captured British people at work and play. His subjects run the gamut of British society, from street vendors to a nameless teenage girl holding a small kitten to a duke standing on the lawn in front of his castle.

A landscape photographer, Caponingro, in numerous visits beginning in 1966, focused on ancient stone monuments, early churches, and sacred sites in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Fascinated by mythology, he originally planned to travel to Egypt to photograph temple walls, but was instead persuaded to explore the ancient landscape of the Celts. According to the photographer, “Ireland became my Egypt and the stones became my temples.”

While their artistic styles differ greatly, both artists are devoted to traditional photographic methods and are considered masters of the dark room. Visitors are invited to think about Davidson and Caponigro’s portrait and landscape photographs in the context of works in Center’s collection by artists like William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson, John Constable, and William Blake.

On view through September 14, the exhibition is free and open to the public. The Yale Center for British Art is open Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday noon–5 p.m.

A Tale of Two Collections

The Lewis Walpole Library (LWL) buildings and collection in Farmington, Connecticut, are the happy result of two collectors who lived centuries apart in England and America: Horace Walpole (1717–1797) and Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis ’18 (1895–1979).

Walpole was the third son of Sir Robert Walpole (often called Britain’s first “prime minister”) and collected all manner of books, art, and ephemera. He was a key figure in the Gothic revival movement and an avid correspondent and memoirist who painted a detailed picture of life in 18th century England. Nearly 200 years after his death, Walpole became the object of another collector’s passion.

Born in California, W.S. Lewis collected books, manuscripts, furniture, decorative arts, prints, and paintings related to the life and writings of Walpole and his world. He left his home and library to Yale in 1979 with the intention that it would continue to grow and change, lest it become “static and moldy.”

On view through Oct. 3, “A Collection’s Progress: The Lewis Walpole Library, 2000-2014”presents a selection of materials acquired over the last 14 years during the tenure of executive director Margaret K. Powell, who retired in May (Nicole Bouché will take up the position in early August).

Far from being static and moldy, the exhibition includes a surprising number of Walpole’s books and letters; manuscripts and ephemera that document the daily lives of 18th-century men and women; and prints and drawings that build on strengths in the collection, including satires by Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray, and George Cruikshank. Together, the objects speak of another time, its politics and conflicts, its arts, fashions, and pastimes.

The Lewis Walpole Library gallery is open to the public on Wednesdays 2–4:30 p.m, and by appointment (860-677-2140).

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