From the Director

Courtney J. Martin, photo by Argenis Apolinario

Dear friends,

Happy New Year!

Following an exciting autumn of exhibitions and programs at the Center, we look forward to equally exhilarating months ahead.

The artist Lynette Yiadom Boakye was present for a talk by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hilton Als, opening the special exhibition on her work in October. This display, which travels to the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in January, was the second in a trio of exhibitions at the Center curated by Als and featuring female artists working in Britain today. We were fortunate to have on loan a stunning portrait of Yiadom Boakye by Kehinde Wiley (Yale MFA 2001), which was on view during the exhibition. It was also one of the works highlighted in a student guide tour at the recent Night at the Museum, an event organized by the Yale College Council and attended by 430 undergraduates. We were pleased to see this record number of students enjoying the art in our galleries.

We begin the year by revisiting Neale and Margaret Alberts’ outstanding collection of the book arts, which has been promised to the Center. You may remember our exhibition from 2016, “The Poet of Them All”: William Shakespeare and Miniature Designer Bindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert. In January we look forward to a new selection of their amazing holdings with contemporary designer bookbinding, curated by Molly Dotson, Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Visitors will also see a reconfiguration of the Center’s modern and contemporary galleries on the second floor. Featuring work from 1860 to the present day, we are introducing new works to the display from Peter de Francia, Steve Campbell, Anthony Caro, and others.

The exhibition Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement opens with a lively performance of period music on February 19. The exhibition’s cocurator, Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale, will be the master of ceremonies. We are especially grateful to the Birmingham Museums Trust for generously loaning more than eighty works from their collection. One of the objects in the exhibition, an embroidered bedcover by Mary Jane Newill, who taught needlework at the Municipal School of Art in Birmingham from 1892 until 1922, is featured on the cover of this calendar. It represents one of the many ways we will recognize female artists during this year in which Yale is commemorating fifty years of coeducation and 150 years of women admitted to the graduate school. 

Continuing the celebration, we will open our annual student guide exhibition in April, Art in Focus: Women From the Center, which will feature British women artists from our collection. Please join us for the opening lecture by the artist Rina Banerjee (Yale MFA 1995) on April 15.

We were also delighted to learn that Rebecca Salter is the first female president in the 251-year history of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA). Salter was elected a Royal Academician in 2014 in the category of Printmaker, three years after a major retrospective of her work at the Yale Center for British Art, and in 2017 she became Keeper of the Royal Academy with the responsibility of guiding the RA Schools.

This summer we will offer two additional summer internships named in honor of former Yale Center for British Art director Amy Meyers and founding director Jules D. Prown. These named internships join those of former Center directors Duncan Robinson and Patrick McCaughey. All are supported by the endowment established by Nancy and the late Henry (Hank) E. Bartels. It is a fitting tribute to the scholarship and commitment to teaching and museology of each of these directors.

We welcome Rachel Stratton, who joins us as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Paintings and Sculpture, and Jessica Makin, our new framer in the Department of Paper Conservation. We will miss April Swieconek, Head of Communications and Marketing, and congratulate her on her new position at Yale as Director of Communications for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. We have also bid farewell to Jean DelBuono, Senior Administrative Assistant.

It is with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of our colleague and friend Bryan Coburn, who served as a Security Officer at the Center for over eleven years.

As always, we thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Center and look forward to seeing you often in the upcoming year.

Courtney J. Martin