Untitled Creature |
by Gerome Kamrowski
New Kamrowskis Enliven Art Environment at the Business School
Four new works by nationally renowned artist Gerome Kamrowski expand the Business School's Art on View collection of American prints and sculpture.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. American artist Gerome (Jerry) Kamrowski was a well-known figure at the University of Michigan School of Art where he taught for 40 years, but few could have predicted his surrealistic works one day would become popular among Business School students and faculty.
Last year, Kamrowski loaned the Business School his sculpture Arborescent, which was displayed in Assembly Hall. The immense piece depicting five fanciful creatures was such a hit that the School's Art Acquisition Committee decided to purchase two Kamrowskis by using a sizeable contribution to the Art Fund from the Charles H. Ihling (MBA '79) Memorial Fund. The Ann Arbor artist, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, felt so honored to be part of the School's Art on View collection that he donated two additional works, making four in all.
"We only buy works on paper by nationally recognized American artists for the permanent collection, but the feedback on Arborescent was so positive we decided to purchase something outside the theme," says Kathleen Dolan, who joined the Art Acquisition Committee shortly after she and her husband, Dean Robert J. Dolan, settled in Ann Arbor three years ago. "Jerry Kamrowski's reputation also was an important factor in the decision."
During the 1930s and early 1940s, Kamrowski worked in New York with such artists as Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock and helped spearhead the development of American Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. His work from this period is in permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art and other leading museums around the world.
In 1948, Kamrowski moved to Ann Arbor to teach at the Art School, where he retired in 1982. For more than half a century, he has continued to work in his home studio. His most recent artistry includes colorful paintings, sculptures, wind machines, beaded wooden creatures and art installations for public spaces.
The University of Michigan Museum of Art has featured his work in two major exhibitions. Locally, his work is sold through the River Gallery in Chelsea, where Kathleen Dolan is an art consultant.
At the Business School, the first two KamrowskisDeep Ocean, an acrylic on paper, and Untitled Creature, a polychromed and beaded wood and plexigass sculpturewere installed on Feb. 9 outside the Kresge Library. The other twoRibbed Vertical, an ink and gouache on board, and a small mosaic construction, to be selected by the Art Committee from Kamrowski's personal collectionwill be displayed together elsewhere in the School.
In recent months, a number of distinctive prints and sculptures by American artists have debuted in hallways, porticos, administrative offices and public rooms, bringing the School's permanently held collection to 100 works of art. The most recent acquisitions include an aquatint, Velazquez Hands, by Christopher Brown; five lithographs by Robert Longo; an untitled dye coupler print by Fred Wilson; and Floating World, a portfolio of five woodcuts by Mel Bochner.
More than a dozen additional works are on loan from individual artists, corporate collections or private collectors. All purchases of artwork are made using alumni donations earmarked for the Art Fund. Prints and sculptures are specially installed to ensure their security while on display.
"We're not just amassing a collection," Dolan says. "We are adding a special component to the Business School's environment and educating our students about fine art. In the future, they will be business leaders and will be asked to support the arts. If they have no art appreciation, it will be hard for them to do that."
Currently, the Business School lacks works by Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, which Dolan has found to be "very high priced." Those artists will be at the top of the list the next time she flies to New York to attend art auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's, as well as a dealers' Print Fair.
"We buy everything at art auctions in New York, because that's where you get the best prices," says Dolan, whose art-world experience and connections have proven an asset to the School.
Trained as a social worker, she segued into art by chance when she "took a break for a year," met several women who owned Gallery on the Green in Lexington, Mass., and learned all she could about buying and selling art. Dolan eventually bought the gallery, operated it for two years and then founded Kathleen Dolan Fine Arts, an art consulting business.
Dolan says her husband is an admirer of Christopher Brown and Katherine Bowling and has selected a watercolor by Anthony Howe and an acrylic on paper by Alice Spencer from their personal collection to hang in his office. She "likes so many pieces" it is hard to pinpoint her favorite artist, although she is partial to prints by Pat Steir, Robert Motherwell, Janet Fish, Helen Frankenthaler and Alex Katz, which are displayed throughout the School.
"It's a privilege for me to work with the collection, and I am excited to be able to add to this phenomenal group of works," she says. "I've found this to be an enriching experience."
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