Ogden Museum of Southern Art Acquires Suite of Photographs by William Christenberry, Coinciding with Major Survey of the Acclaimed Artist’s Work Currently on View
Museum Also Announces Acquisition of Works by RaMell Ross, Luis Cruz Azaceta, and Aaron Hardin, Among Others
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art announced that it has acquired a suite of dye-transfer photographs by renowned artist William Christenberry, titled Ten Southern Photographs. Taken between 1978 and 1981 in Hale County, Alabama, the suite represents Christenberry’s first substantive photography series produced in large-scale. While his work with three-square-inch Brownie prints brought him initial acclaim, his larger format photographs fully encapsulated his innate ability to imbue his images with emotion and meaning through a rich use of color and an incredible attention to detail. The suite, which was made in an edition of 21, includes views from across the small towns of Hale County, a critical subject of Christenberry’s work throughout his life. The acquisition of the suite coincides with the Ogden Museum’s survey of the artist’s work, Memory is a Strange Bell, which features more than 125 works from across his career and is on view through March 1, 2020. Ten Southern Photographs joins 13 photographs and two screen prints by Christenberry already in the museum’s collection.
The Ogden Museum has also acquired iHome (2012) and Sleepy Church (2014), two archival pigment prints by acclaimed photographer, cinematographer, and director RaMell Ross. The prints are part of Ross’s seven-year project, South County, AL (A Hale County), which resulted in a photography series and a documentary film—Hale County, This Morning, This Evening—that was nominated for an Academy Award and recently screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ross, who is part of a trajectory of artists inspired by the region that has included Walker Evans and Christenberry, has contributed an essay to the catalogue for Memory is a Strange Bell. iHome and Sleepy Church mark the first works by Ross to enter the museum’s collection and precede a major solo exhibition of his work that will open at the Ogden Museum in October 2020.
Among the other highlights from the museum’s fall acquisitions is Measure of Equity (2019), a mixed-media work by Cuban American artist Luis Cruz Azaceta. Comprised of multicolored skeins of yarn set above two painted panels, the work speaks to the fluidity of identity in the face of socio-political and economic conflict. Since the late 1970s, Azaceta’s work has dealt with issues of national morality and ethics, from urban violence to widespread racism to the AIDS epidemic. His most recent paintings and drawings have focused on the impacts of war, displacement, identity, and collapsing economies. His work has been included in a wide range of exhibitions at the Ogden Museum, but Measure of Equity is the first object by the artist to enter the museum’s collection.
The Ogden Museum has additionally acquired Snake (2015), a c-print by Tennessee-based photographer Aaron Hardin; Argus at the Court of Versaille (2019), a reverse glass collage by North Carolina-based artist Louis St. Lewis; and a selection of 21 sculptures and eight drawings from the estate of New Orleans artist Eugenie “Ersy” Schwartz. The fall 2019 acquisitions will go on view at the Ogden Museum in March 2020 as part of an exhibition exploring accession highlights from the last several years.
“Our fall acquisitions support our wider mission to preserve, explore, and present the art of the South, whether through the work of artists from the Southern states or those who have been and continue to be inspired by the region. The new objects entering our collection are conceptually rich and complex in formal approach and technique. We look forward to sharing them with our audiences through future exhibitions and programs, and to continuing to shine a light on the depth and interest of art emanating from the South,” said William Pittman Andrews, Ogden Museum Executive Director.
The Ogden Museum’s collection was founded in 1999 through a donation of 600 works from New Orleans businessman Roger H. Ogden’s personal collection. Since then, the museum’s collection has grown to more than 4,000 objects, making it the largest and most comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation. This includes works across media and genre from and associated with the fifteen Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia. The collection is particularly strong in Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography, and contemporary art, and the museum continues to actively expand its holdings, focusing on both well-known artists and those who deserve further exploration and attention.