Yale School of Art exhibit explores Jack Shear’s dual roles as artist and collector

A new exhibition at the Yale School of Art (YSA) considers the intersection of artists-as-collectors through works in the private collection of photographer Jack Shear.

With Eyes Closed/With Eyes Wide Open,” organized by Robert Storr, professor of painting and printmaking and dean of the Yale School of Art, is on view Dec. 11–Jan. 5 at the YSA’s 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery in New Haven. The exhibition is free and open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Historically, artists such as Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, and Robert Rauschenberg have amassed considerable, often diverse, arrays of work by their contemporaries and predecessors, as well as by obscure “outsiders” and anonymous masters from other cultures.

The Yale exhibition features works by Shear — including an ongoing series of portraits of young men with their eyes closed — as well as those he has gathered “over the course of many years, searching high and low for things that please and provoke him,” said Storr.

Storr selected works on paper from Shear’s personal collection, including photographs, drawings, and etchings by 19th- and 20th-century masters. Photographs by pioneers Eadweard Muybridge, Wilhelm von Gloeden, and George Platt Lynnes hang alongside works by contemporary artists Richard Avedon, Larry Fink, Duane Michaels, Catherine Opie, Andy Warhol, and Gerard Malanga. 

Among the drawings are sheets by French post-Impressionists Pierre Bonnard and Puvis de Chavannes; German Symbolist Otto Greiner; Expressionist George Grosz; and American Neo-Romantics Walt Kuhn, Jared French, and Pavel Tchelichew. Postwar draftsmen represented include David Hockney and Ellsworth Kelly, as well as Chicago Imagists Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilson, and spin-off Jeff Koons. Originally a native of Los Angeles, Shear has also collected the works of numerous West Coast artists, notably Tom Knechtel and John Sonsini.

“In sum, Shear’s collection demonstrates that where the borders of ‘mainstream taste’ begin to blur and dissolve, new worlds open up. This is what Shear’s own work does,” says Storr. “Now it is his turn to have his photographs made known to a wider public.”

Jack Shear has worked as a photographer for over a quarter of a century and is noted for his iconic portraits of American figures such as William S. Burroughs and Ellsworth Kelly, as well as for his architectural photography. He has exhibited widely throughout his career, including shows at the Williams College Museum of Art in Massachusetts; the Shaker Museum and Library in New York; the Fotogalerie Wien in Austria; and The Albany Institute of History and Art. In 1999 he jointly organized the exhibition “Drawn from Artists’ Collections” with Anne Philbin, then director of The Drawing Center in New York City.

Shear is also executive director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, named for his long-time partner, Ellsworth Kelly, a renowned American painter, sculptor, and printmaker. The foundation actively supports the conservation and care of modern and contemporary works of art.

For more information on the exhibition or visiting 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery, contact the Yale School of Art at 203-432-2600 or send email to artschool.info@yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Mike Cummings: michael.cummings@yale.edu, 203-432-9548