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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!



Titian. The Pastoral Concert (c. 1509)

Written by FDAC Board Member Sharifa T. Lookman ’17

There are certain works in art history that one must be familiar with, from Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” And of course Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” When visiting the Louvre in Parisa few weeks ago, I actually got to see this work. Or rather I got to see other people photographing the Mona Lisa, a small panel barely visible behind reflecting glass. It was a phenomenon akin to my visit to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome where masses of people rushed to the front of Michelangelo’s Pieta, took a picture, and went on their way. An experience that deserves hours of contemplation was replaced by a thirty-second glimpse and, of course, the mandatory photo!

Once I elbowed my way through the throngs of people vying for a front row view of the lady in question, I found myself on the other side of the room, practically vacant in comparison to the space I had just left. And there, on the other side of Mona Lisa’s wall was Titian’s “Pastoral Concert,” a painting I had studied a year before. I was ashamed to have almost missed it, but it was clear that I was not the only one who had. Titian’s painting is modest in size and somewhat dwarfed by the larger surrounding paintings hung salon-style. The technical skill and compelling characters, however, demand attention. The painting suggests pastoral levity, with two seated figures engaged in music and poetry, surrounded by two muses. Though not the most exacting narrative, Titian’s brushwork and palette are unrivaled when viewed in person, and I spent hours looking and sketching.

The Louvre could not possibly be covered in such detail, even given months. The value and prestige of artwork is perpetuated by museum curating, and the viewership of such works is heavily influenced by fame and scholarship. I was struck by just how much artwork we miss in search of the next big work noted on our museum guide. I question when art viewership became less of an individual, subjective experience and tastes became altered by scholarly assertions of “good” and “bad” art.

Whether a canonical work or not, there is enormous value in experiencing, understanding and critiquing it based on one’s own terms. And I would suggest, as much as you might want to prove your proximity to some of the most famous works throughout history, to leave your camera at home. Instead, bring a sketchbook and a pencil, or, if you’re really gutsy, nothing at all. And don’t neglect the works we have made modest, hidden behind silent walls.

Opening Reception: Personal Recollections – Gifts from Robert Dannin and Jolie Stahl

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 26, 2015 from 5pm to 7pm.

Conversation in the gallery with Curator Clare RoganRobert Dannin, and Jolie Stahl at 5:30pm.

Exhibition runs from Friday, March 27 through Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Inspired by anthropological theories of gift-giving, Jolie Stahl and Robert Dannin recently donated a collection of 69 prints, photographs, and multiples to the Davison Art Center in honor of their daughter, Isadora Dannin ’14. Their gift also included 26 rare photography books for Special Collections and Archives at Olin Library. As Dannin explains, “The idea of gifting and re-gifting is basically that you are circulating it, nobody really possesses it, and this is appropriate for a work of art.” Most of these prints, photographs, and books were originally personal gifts to Stahl and Dannin from the artists. The exhibition, Personal Recollections, will highlight this fascinating gift, which includes artwork from New York in the 1980s and 1990s, and iconic news photographs from members of the Magnum Photos cooperative. The exhibition includes prints and multiples by Barbara Kruger, Richard Mock, and Kiki Smith, as well as photographs by Eve Arnold, Stuart Franklin, Steve McCurry, Nan Goldin, and Sebastião Salgado.


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