University of Michigan Museum of Art Celebrates Bicentennial with Major Exhibition of Alumni Collectors

  • ANN ARBOR, Michigan
  • /
  • January 24, 2017

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Andy Warhol, Ferrous, 1975, acrylic and silkscreen on linen. Collection of Joseph and Annette Allen © 2016 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


VICTORS FOR ART: MICHIGAN’S ALUMNI COLLECTORS presents 115 artworks showcasing a rich diversity of figurative and abstract forms over centuries

Ann Arbor, MI…Commemorating the University of Michigan’s Bicentennial in 2017, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) has organized a major exhibition drawn from the collections of University alumni. Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors comprises 115 exceptional works of art spanning 3,500 years of art-making from around the world. It is presented in two parts: Figuration will be on view from February 18 through June 11, 2017, and Abstraction from July 1 through October 29, 2017.

Alumni from all walks of life representing seven decades of graduating classes and 15 of the University’s schools and colleges are participating with loans of work that are emblematic of their interests as collectors. Victors for Art provides an extraordinary opportunity to view artworks that have never been presented together and, in some cases, have never been publicly displayed. For visitors, and especially for future generations of University graduates, the exhibition illuminates the shared passion for art fostered by the Michigan experience.

University of Michigan Museum of Art Interim Director Kathryn A. Huss said, “UMMA recognizes the extraordinary role of the University in the development of many of the world’s most influential art collectors. One of the founding pillars of a U-M education, art remains a vibrant opportunity for engagement, edification, conversation, and enjoyment. We welcome the community and alumni Victors—a nickname from the University’s beloved fight song—to explore this very special exhibition created in celebration of the University’s 200th anniversary. We are deeply grateful to our alumni for their enthusiastic support of this exhibition.”

This exhibition was organized by Joseph Rosa, Guest Curator and former UMMA Director, in collaboration with Laura De Becker, Helmut & Candis Stern Associate Curator of African Art, Jennifer Friess, Assistant Curator of Photography, Lehti Mairike Keelmann, Assistant Curator of Western Art, and Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art.

Mr. Rosa said, “UMMA is uniquely positioned to celebrate the University’s Bicentennial in this expansive and multi-faceted way. Victors for Art builds on UMMA’s tradition of presenting a rigorous program about art and cultures throughout history, stimulating ideas and discussions, and encouraging connection-making across artistic and academic disciplines.”

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of a Young Lady, possibly Charlotte Dillon, with Red Stole and Veil, 1803, oil on canvas. Collection of Trish Turner and Thomas McConnell © Sotheby’s / akg-images

While figuration and abstraction are broad and fluid categories that defy conclusive characterization, Victors for Art provides visitors with the opportunity to explore the substance and limits of these groupings across a spectrum of media, time periods, and geographies.

Part I: Figuration, opening February 18, 2017, includes works that aim to represent people, objects, and surroundings—while other works, despite such allusions, playfully push against the very notions of representation. Works by a range of artists including Peter Campus, Rineke Dijkstra, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Henri Matisse, Collier Schorr, and Mickalene Thomas, among others, speak to the diversity of motivations for artistic representation across many contexts. By juxtaposing these works, viewers may discern common threads, yet also appreciate the great variety of artistic responses encompassed by the term “figuration.”

Opening July 1, 2017, Part II: Abstraction showcases a wide range of mediums, art historical periods, practices, and purposes in its exploration of the genre. The works take their inspiration from numerous sources—from language and the natural world to the human figure and visage—providing compelling experiences through the manipulation of line, form, and color.

Highlights include modern and contemporary works by Christo, Alberto Giacometti, Louise Nevelson, José Parlá, Pablo Picasso, Lorna Simpson, and Do Ho Suh, among others. From a fifth-century Korean roof end tile to an Amish quilt to work by an Inuit master, Abstraction offers a singular opportunity to enjoy an extraordinary array of artists and practices. 


Available in September 2017, the fully illustrated catalogue Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors will be published by the University of Michigan Museum of Art and edited by Joseph Rosa. Collectors’ stories will be profiled on UMMA’s website at To purchase the $35 publication, visit The UMMA Store at beginning September 2017.


Lead support for Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan Office of the President, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the University of Michigan Bicentennial Office.

University of Michigan Museum of Art

One of the leading university art museums in the country, UMMA was established in 1856, moved to its current location in 1910, and added the Frankel Family Wing in 2009. The Museum’s collection—African; American; Asian; European; Middle Eastern; modern and contemporary; and prints, drawings, and photography—is of exceptional breadth, comprising more than 21,000 objects that span cultures, eras, and media. Works from Whistler and Picasso to Nevelson and Gates, Chinese and Japanese paintings and ceramics, and sculpture from central Africa are among the finest in North America. Special exhibitions, gallery installations, innovative interpretive strategies, and programming showcase UMMA’s collections and engage 250,000 visitors annually. The Museum—among the oldest university art museums in the nation—serves as the catalyst for cultural understanding at the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor community, and is a physical and virtual destination for scholars and art-lovers from around the globe. The Museum is always free.


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Dave Lawrence, UMMA Communications Manager
University of Michigan Museum of Art
(734) 647-0524

University of Michigan Museum of Art
525 South State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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