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Since its founding in 1962, the Friends of the Davison Art Center (FDAC) has been devoted to the growth and public enjoyment of the DAC collection through a wide variety of events for both its members and the greater community.  The primary mission of the FDAC is to expand and promote the Davison Art Center collection at Wesleyan University.  Learn more about the FDAC here.

Become a Friend

Please join the Friends!  As a member, you support the acquisition of new works for the DAC collection.  With a volunteer Board of Directors and minimal overhead expense, the FDAC directs a high percentage of its membership dues directly to its mission.  Wesleyan students can join the FDAC free of charge – click here to become a student member today!



Photo Caption: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778), Catalog of works to date published by Gio-Battista Piranesi, ca. 1761, etching. Weedon Endowment funds, 2014.

Written by DAC Intern Rebecca Wilton ’15

Giovanni Battista Piranesi is known for his prolific work documenting the landscape of Rome – both his contemporary city of the 1700s and its storied ruins from antiquity. The Davison Art Center already has many examples of the detailed etchings and engravings that reveal his talent as an artist, but the newest acquisition of Piranesi’s work sheds light on his talents in another capacity – that of the businessman.

Today, a successful artist often has a team of individuals to help market their work – an assistant, a gallerist, a dealer, etc. The etching titled Catalog of works to date published by Gio-Battista Piranesi (Catalogo delle Opere Date finora alla Luce da Gio-Battista Pirenesi…) suggests the opposite was true for Piranesi. Serving not only as his personal catalog of his views of Rome or Vedute di Roma completed to date, with room on the list to add more, the Catalogo presents the viewer with information about his other projects, such as the Carceri d’Invenzione, and even lists where they are available for purchase at the bottom! Designed to look like a flier tacked to a wall, complete with trompe l’oeil tacks, the etching reads as an advertisement aimed at a wide audience. Showing his shrewd marketing skills, Piranesi tantalizes the viewer with partially obscured examples of his work below the flier, creating suspense and a desire to see more. By posting his list over the front of an archway, Piranesi parallels the symbolic discovery of his fictive artwork behind the flier with the discovery of Roman history depicted through his actual artwork. In the same way the viewer gets a preview or tour of Piranesi’s artwork here, we get a preview, and tour, of Rome when looking through his prints. To make his intentions even clearer he even inserts a fan gazing with wonder at his art – see if you can spot him in the print! (Hint: try looking at the lower left)

Detail: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778), Catalog of works to date published by Gio-Battista Piranesi, ca. 1761, etching. Weedon Endowment funds, 2014.

Detail: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778), Catalog of works to date published by Gio-Battista Piranesi, ca. 1761, etching. Weedon Endowment funds, 2014.

Much more than a personal tool for organization, the Catalogo shows Piranesi consciously constructing his image as an artist much as he consciously constructs a certain idea of Rome in his Vedute.

CT Now review of ‘Picture/ Thing’ exhibit at Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery.  Today’s artist panel discussion takes place at 4.30pm in the Main Gallery.


Written by FDAC Board Member Sharifa T. Lookman ’17

I have been living in Florence, Italy for just over two weeks now where I am studying abroad through the Syracuse University Florence Center. Despite this short time, I have already managed to get lost on nearly every occasion, learned how to down an Italian espresso with limited wincing, and perfected the art of eating two plates of pasta daily. Not to mention, of course, seeing some of the most amazing art and architecture in human history.

Being here is an art historian’s dream. I am surrounded by a cultural history alive with renowned relics studied in text books that are suddenly real, tangible objects. Arriving here as a student, I felt internal pressure to see, touch, smell, and document everything as part of this special intellectual experience.

florence-515701_640I came prepared for my very first site visit — a trip to Santa Maria Novella — notebook in hand and camera ready in my front pocket. I was ready for an “academic lesson.” Upon entering, however, I was anything but poised or enlightened. I was downright overwhelmed. Though not monumental in scale, Santa Maria Novella’s grandeur and semblance to diagrams in my history books unbalanced me as it contextualized the sheer history of the architecture and its decoration. This was unlike any museum exhibition as the works were in situ, not in labeled frames oriented for modern viewership.

Masaccio_-_Trinity_-_WGA14208I was in awe, stopped in my tracks, when we paused in front of Masaccio’s The Holy Trinity, a 15th century fresco that I had studied numerous times. But in the moment, I could not recall any specifics from my professor’s lecture nor did I take a single note or snap a single photograph. When my professor posed questions, my mind went blank. It was as though I’d finally met my favorite celebrity, standing in the spot where they’d written their first hit, but couldn’t remember their name! At this point the sheer enormity of Florence’s artistic collection truly hit me.

I left the visit convinced that the amount of art here was too overwhelming and it would be impossible to even begin to see them all or digest their significance. Suddenly Florence was much too large and my expectations and objectives as an art history major in the birthplace of the Renaissance were too many. I took out my calendar and made a list of every site I had to see and when, convinced that I would conquer it with proper planning.

Such was my philosophy until I took a day trip to Assisi last weekend. We arrived in the early morning and were greeted by a picturesque rainbow above the hilltop town. In addition to touring the basilica, we roamed the town and country hills. Perhaps it was the chilled air or maybe the romantic scenery, but for the first time since I had arrived in Italy, I let a breath out and truly reveled in the beauty of a new place.

I will meet Donatello, Brunelleschi, and all their friends in time, but meanwhile they will keep waiting and Florence will reveal itself slowly. The city will give me gifts of patience and sight, introducing me to the artistic masterpieces of the Renaissance and the cultural ingredients that inspired them.

assisilandscape  assisidoorway

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