The Colgate Scene
September 2007

Moving Pictures

Paul Schupf '58 chats with a student at the exhibition opening in May. Katz's 1965 Ada with a Bathing Cap can be seen in the background. [Photo by Luke Connolly '09]

In May, the third-floor lobby of James B. Colgate Hall (JBC) was transformed from a traditional president's office foyer to a modern gallery. The metamorphosis came in the form of the exhibition Moving Pictures, with the compliments of Paul J. Schupf '58. The philanthropist has shared his extensive collection of modern paintings, drawings, and prints with the university in honor of the completion of Rebecca S. Chopp's fifth year as president of Colgate and in recognition of her sponsorship of the arts on campus.

The idea for Moving Pictures hatched nearly five years ago, when Schupf met Chopp for the first time — for breakfast at Quack's in Bouckville. They discussed ideas, segued into art, and, before the last cup of coffee, Schupf invited Chopp to his home to choose art for her office.

Shortly thereafter, seven prints and drawings by Alex Katz, Chuck Close, and Richard Serra were installed at the president's residence, Watson House, and subsequently, he said, "I would drive up periodically at six on a weekend evening with new pictures, and we would swap," said Schupf. "We called it `pics at six.'"

Hugh Bradford, director of budget and decision support, admires Alex Katz's The Cocktail Party, in the stairway of James B. Colgate Hall, where Moving Pictures is on exhibit. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Last spring, many of Schupf's Katz paintings had returned from a major exhibition in New York City. He contacted Elizabeth Barker, then director of the Picker Art Gallery, to suggest taking the ongoing art loan to a new level, creating what French statesman and author André Malraux would call a "museum without walls." Rather than confining an exhibition to one space, multiple places on campus where any of the collector's more than 200 artworks could be displayed for the enjoyment of all would be identified.

For the first installation, the JBC third-floor lobby became home to Katz's 1965 paintings The Cocktail Party and Ada with a Bathing Cap, his 1982 Yellow House and its three studies, as well as Close's 2005 photogravure Self-Portrait. Further displays are being planned for the lobby and at additional campus locations.

"Having this exhibition adds an extra dimension to the `liberal arts' experience," said first-year student Gary Wu. "It's great to know that it's here."

Chopp, a self-proclaimed art lover, said that throughout the most difficult moments of her tenure, "I have been able to look around my office and enjoy truth, beauty, goodness."

Just prior to the opening reception, Adam Hermans '07 was presented with the first Schupf Senior Art Prize, established by Schupf in conjunction with the Picker. The award honors outstanding new works of art every year by providing $500 to one or $250 each to two graduating seniors. The pieces are given permanent positions in the Schupf Senior Art Prize Collection at the gallery.

Katz's 1982 Yellow House and its three studies [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Hermans's video art creation, In wildness lies the preservation of the world, uses a powerful narrative and spectacular imagery to contrast wilderness and civilization. It was chosen by Schupf and Barker after they viewed every work in the senior art exhibition.

"We were going to watch for five minutes," said Schupf of the nearly hour-long piece, "but we ended up watching the whole thing to see how it would develop. There was no one else in the room, but when it ended, we clapped anyway."

Taken together, the award and the exhibition add important components to the university's visual arts program — in which the study of art becomes as active as any of Colgate's volunteer programs and scientific research projects.

"Simply knowing that Picasso painted La Vie in 1903 isn't enough," said Schupf. "Art is about understanding, collecting, displaying, and engaging with works of all periods."

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