William Wylie / Art

For art students, knowledge of the art world is vital to moving forward with a sense of innovation and creativity. They study the historical and aesthetic aspects of important artworks that have affected the way we think about and see our world. In art courses we spend a great deal of time looking at poor reproductions of important artworks via slide presentations or books. Rarely do students get a chance to see original works or the breadth of an artist’s archive.

My Dream Idea is to a select group of advanced art students to study the chain of influence artists can have on future generations. We will study the work of three important photographers: Eugene Atget (French, turn of the century), Walker Evans (American, FSA and Depression era), and Robert Adams (American, late 1960s to the present). After reading and discussing the available writings on all three artists at a weekly seminar here at UVA I will use the funding from The Mead Endowment to take the students to New York at mid semester and visit the three major institutions that house the archives of these photographers. The Museum of Modern Art has the complete Atget archives and study collection. Retired chief curator John Szarkowski has written five important books on Atget. I have already arranged access to the collection and asked Mr. Szarkowski to meet the class and speak about Atget. The next day we will visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Walker Evans Archive. Evans biographer and curator of the Met photo collection, Jeff Rosenhiem, has agreed to take the students through the study collection and talk about Evans and the influence Atget had on Evans’ work in America. Finally, we will stop in Princeton on the way back to UVA The Princeton University Art Museum has a large and important Robert Adams collection and curator Toby Jurovics is a leading expert on the work. He has agreed to meet us, show the collection and lecture on the artist. I have also contacted Robert Adams himself and requested he meet us at Princeton to talk about his own work. Students will see the precedent set by Atget and Evans transformed by Adams into a distinctly contemporary American way of looking at the world and the continued chain of influence. Upon completion of this trip the group will produce a portfolio of their own photographs as influenced by Atget, Evans, and Adams.

This will be a rare educational opportunity for UVA students. The institutions have agreed to open the doors for the students to see original works by the artists. The experts have agreed to meet the students to discuss the artists. Students will have access behind the scenes and meet people at major institutions that could be future employers (as curators) or collectors of their art. Most importantly, the students will be out in the world, actively educating themselves through hands-on experience.