Nasher Museum Annual Report 2014 | Q&A with the Chair of the Board of Advisors
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Q&A with the Chair of the Board of Advisors

What did you hear about the Nasher Museum as you were traveling and visiting art museums, galleries and art fairs over the past year?


As ever, the Nasher Museum is an important part of the art world conversation, and a leader among university art museums. It was exciting to see Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker’s highly praised exhibition, Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, open at the Brooklyn Museum, and then travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. The Nasher Museum has been well represented in Los Angeles, too. Curator Franklin Sirmans at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art updated Futbol: The Beautiful Game, the 2006 exhibition he co-curated with Trevor Schoonmaker in New York several years ago. Rick Powell’s groundbreaking exhibition Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist opened recently at LACMA to great reviews in the L.A. Times and other national press after a highly successful exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, June 14 – September 7, 2014. I am thrilled that it will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art in time for the new museum building opening on the High Line. 

What are some of your favorite Nasher Museum moments from the past year?

I was excited to see two new sculptures installed in the Great Hall, on loan from the collection of my parents, Raymond D. and Patsy R. Nasher, through the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. The 1967 painted bronze work by Joan Miró entitled Caress of a Bird (La Caresse d’un oiseau) has inspired visitors of all ages as they walk into the important exhibition from the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Miró: The Experience of Seeing. My parents were taken with Miró’s playfulness and in 2003 my father was quoted as saying about Caress of a Bird, “This is a particularly whimsical and humorous sculpture, and you can’t help smiling when you see it.” The other loan is a 1944 bronze work by German-born artist Max Ernst made of found household objects, entitled The King Playing with the Queen, which looks terrific in the Great Hall. Ernst was a friend and contemporary of Miró; both were involved in the Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1940s.

My husband and fellow board member David Haemisegger and I were delighted to support the exhibition Rauschenberg: Collecting & Connecting, which filled most of two pavilions with six decades of work by the great American artist, in conversation with works from the Nasher Museum’s collection. This show was very significant because Curator and Duke Professor Kristine Stiles brought five Duke undergraduate students to the Rauschenberg Foundation in New York to closely examine and choose their favorite works. Stiles and the students wrote essays for an online catalogue published on the Rauschenberg Foundation’s website; their shorter essays appeared in a beautiful 60-page printed catalogue with full-color illustrations on every page. Duke undergraduates Lauren Acampora, Katherine Hardiman, Emma Hart, Jacqueline Samy and Taylor Zakarin graduated with distinction for their work on the project.

What excites you most about the growing collection?

The Nasher Museum does not wait for artists to be recognized by the art market, and the market does not motivate our acquisitions. But we are consistently ahead of the curve in our collection practice, and thrilled when our artists are rewarded. The Sound Vision exhibition presented the museum’s most recent acquisitions just as several artists were experiencing an exciting moment in their careers. The show included a major work by Deborah Grant, who deserves congratulations for her recent solo show at The Drawing Center in New York, which had terrific reviews in the art press. We are also proud of LaToya Ruby Frazier, whose solo show recently took place at Seattle Art Museum. Carrie Mae Weems was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” last year, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York opened a 30-year retrospective of her work in January, just before we presented two of her works as part of Sound Vision. It was wonderful that Carrie Mae gave her talk at Duke as the Rothschild Lecture in the midst of long overdue national attention—including her appearance on national television as BET’s Visual Arts Award honoree. The Nasher Museum also acquired a fantastic work by Hassan Hajjaj, born in Morocco and based in London, whose “dazzling photo-portraits” earned an exciting review last year in The New York Times. David and I were pleased to give a 1978 triptych by Charles Gaines to the Nasher Museum in honor of departing Provost Peter Lange. The gift, entitled Faces: Women, Face #2, Janay Montgomery, also shows good timing: Gaines’ first museum survey was presented at the Studio Museum in Harlem in summer 2014.

This was the first year in Director Sarah Schroth’s tenure, and I so enjoyed working with her and the entire Board of Advisors, continuing to enhance the museum’s international reputation. I am fortunate to work with such a talented board, all of them extremely dedicated to the museum and generous with their support, time and advice. We look forward to celebrating the Nasher Museum’s first decade as we start to write the next chapter. The future is bright with art, community and learning as the museum continues to grow and inspire Duke and beyond.

Nancy A. Nasher


Nasher Museum Board of Advisors

FROM LEFT: Board member David Haemisegger and Board Chair Nancy A. Nasher, Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker, Teka Selman, Savannah Chiavacci, board member Michael Levine, Duke student Alexandra Levine, Marjorie Levine and board member Derek Wilson. Photo by J Caldwell.