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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Rose to display Conner artwork

Published: October 21, 2011
Section: News

As the Brandeis community gathers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Rose Art Museum next Thursday, it will find a renovated museum matched with a new image on campus, including the triptych film by the late Boston artist Bruce Conner, “EVE-RAY-FOREVER (1965/2006).”

The Conner work was purchased with Acquisition Funds from The Rose, Director of Museum Operations Roy Dawes said.

The Rose will showcase the three silent videos in black and white in the Lee Gallery, along with two new collections, “Art at the Origin: The Early 1960s,” a display of art from when the museum opened in academic year 1961-62 and a narrative work, “Collecting Stories.”

Conner grew up in Kansas but, after moving to San Francisco, became drawn to the Beat culture of the 1960s, according to a BrandeisNOW press release.

Displaying the silent films on three small projectors in a blocked off area of The Rose in 1965, a set-up that many galleries later emulated, Conner established himself as an artist with a wide array of talents, including sculpture, collage, drawing and experiential films, Dabney Hailey, director of academic programs for The Rose, told BrandeisNOW.

“It was a really daring and amazing choice by The Rose. It was controversial. It made people uncomfortable—in a good way,” Hailey said. “People were in the same space as the projector. Film was supposed to be a fantasy. You weren’t supposed to see how the projector runs. It’s taboo.”

The “Art at the Origin” collection will display works from James Rosenquist , Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

The “Collecting Stories” exhibit in the Foster Wing includes works by Juan Gris, Marsden Hartley, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Nam June Paik and Kiki Smith depicting the transformation of The Rose over five decades.

In June, university President Fred Lawrence announced Brandeis would not sell any artwork from The Rose as part of a settlement agreement with Rose benefactors, ending a national controversy that began under former President Jehuda Reinharz. In 2009, Reinharz said Brandeis would begin selling art to make up for financial losses during the economic recession.

Lawrence, in an interview at the beginning of the semester, said he viewed the settlement as a major success early in his presidency.

“I take it as one of the accomplishments of my first six months of which I’m most proud, being able to move forward on The Rose, and to be able to close the difficult part of that chapter,” Lawrence said.

On Thursday evening, The Rose will host an opening ceremony with several artists and members of the media scheduled to attend.

“I am very, very grateful that, when I’m talking to people about The Rose now, what I’m talking about is planning a 50th-anniversary celebration,” Lawrence said.