Artistic treasures from the University of Denver’s collection are on display at DU’s Victoria H. Myhren Gallery in “A Decade of Gifts and Discoveries” — an exhibition featuring artworks rediscovered or donated to the University in the past 10 years.
Featured artists include Andy Warhol, a leading figure in the pop art movement; Marie Laurencin, a female cubist painter influenced by Pablo Picasso; and J. M. W. Turner, a master of British watercolor landscape painting.
Alumna Helen Driscoll (BA ’46, MA ’64) donated 59 works from her personal collection to DU, several of which are displayed in the exhibit. Figures made of carved and painted wood, leather and fur exemplify the Western and Southwestern theme of her collection.
The exhibit also includes pieces donated by Dianne Vanderlip, former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum. Vanderlip has taught at DU as an adjunct professor in the past. Her gifts include pieces by modern artists Donald Judd and Vito Acconci.
“We are celebrating DU’s rich history of visual artists and art donations,” says gallery director Dan Jacobs. “We are particularly reaching out to the donors who have made the collection possible, many of whom are alumni.”
The School of Art began accumulating pieces in 1880. However, because the University had no professionally managed cataloging system, many works went missing.
In 2010, when the Phipps mansion was sold, many of the artworks were reclaimed. Jacobs and graduate student assistants inventoried, categorized and relocated the pieces to offsite storage. The mansion was donated to DU in 1964 by Lawrence Phipps and was often used as a conference center.
The 2013 opening of the Hampden Art Study Center also spurred organizing efforts. This off-campus storage facility provides an educational atmosphere in which DU learn how to research, catalog and manage artwork. Of the more than 3,000 cataloged works at the Hampden center, several hundred were previously lost.
“Since 2005, we have been rapidly professionalizing the University Art Collections,” Jacobs says. “We have used it as a training tool for art history students interested in museum work.”
How these artworks have been rediscovered in the last decade is part of the story of the “Gifts and Discoveries” exhibit. One piece was lost in a bucket of doorknobs. Prints were found framed under other prints. A historic mural was revealed beneath layers of paint. Some have been hiding in basements or attics, but they’ve all been rediscovered and are finally getting the attention they deserve.
“A Decade of Gifts and Discoveries” runs through March 9 and is open daily from noon-4 p.m. The Myhren Gallery is located in DU’s Shwayder Art Building, 2121 E. Asbury Ave.