From the Director

Courtney J. Martin, photo by Argenis Apolinario

Dear friends,

It is my great pleasure to be back at the Yale Center for British Art, one of my favorite places in the world. Both the iconic building and its incredible holdings, displayed so perfectly in the elegant spaces designed by Louis I. Kahn, have never ceased to inspire me. As I prepare to take up my post full time this fall, I extend my deepest gratitude to Deputy Director Constance Clement for serving as interim director over the summer, ensuring that the transition from the visionary leadership of Amy Meyers, who stepped down at the end of June after seventeen years of distinguished service, could not have been more seamless. I very much look forward to getting to know the Center’s rich collections, dedicated staff, and enthusiastic community of supporters more closely in the coming months.

I am equally eager for future opportunities for collaboration with the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and other collections, schools, and programs on campus. Most imminently, the Center will participate in 50WomenAtYale150, the yearlong celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of coeducation in Yale College and the 150th anniversary of women students at the university. This campus-wide commemoration will include a host of lectures, exhibitions, and performances throughout the academic year. These events are intended to showcase the depth of women’s contributions to Yale and to the world, and to inspire thoughtful conversation about the future of women at Yale and in wider society. We at the Center are planning an array of scholarly programs, public events, and special exhibitions devoted to subjects relating to women, for which we hope you will join us.

This autumn, we will open the exhibition Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin, offering a new look at one of the most significant cultural figures of the nineteenth century. This exhibition speaks to the Center’s deep commitment to pedagogy, as it was curated by PhD candidates in Yale University’s Department of the History of Art, under the direction of Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale, and Courtney Skipton Long, Acting Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Yale Center for British Art. I am excited, too, about our other major fall show, Migrating Worlds: The Art of the Moving Image in Britain. Curated by Matthew Hargraves, Chief Curator of Art Collections, it is the first exhibition at the Center dedicated exclusively to video art and the moving image. Also on view is Peterloo and Protest through December 15.

We are delighted that Hilton Als, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and recipient of a 2016 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, will be returning to the Center to curate a display of works by the painter and writer Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, the second in a series of three successive exhibitions focused on British women artists. On October 10, Als will deliver the Andrew Carnduff Ritchie Lecture, sponsored jointly by the Center and the Yale University Art Gallery. Also in connection with the exhibition, we have installed in our fourth-floor galleries the monumental Portrait of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite (2017), by Kehinde Wiley, Yale MFA 2001. It is a wonderful example of the ways in which artists acknowledge and honor each other as peers; be sure to stop by to see it.

One particular pleasure of being at the Center has been meeting the number of student interns engaged in various projects within several departments. Among the undergraduates employed each summer are those who are part of New Haven Promise, a scholarship program that provides financial assistance and work opportunities to exceptional graduates of New Haven public schools. Since 2015, the Center has offered thirty-three New Haven Promise internships, including the nine scholars hosted this past summer: Arianna Alamo, Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU); Jonathan Deyne, University of New Haven; Shannon Foley, University of Connecticut; Ta’Nina Gatison, Central Connecticut State University; Zi Yi Huang, Eastern Connecticut State University; Bryanna Moore, Yale University; Karina Ortiz, Western Connecticut State University; Azucena Rojas, SCSU; and Kyneijee Wubah, Long Island University. I am pleased that the Center recently received the 2019 New Haven Promise Eli Award, bestowed annually to a department at Yale University that has been at the forefront of this important hiring initiative.

We welcome Jemma Field as our Associate Director of Research, as well as Allison Comrie, our Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Arts Librarianship, a fellowship for early-career art librarians shared with Yale’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. In September, Robert Lancefield joins us as Head of IT, and Miriam Schroers, currently our Website Project Manager, joins us officially as Digital Project Manager in Advancement and External Affairs, interfacing with Communications and IT. We also congratulate Lars Kokkonen on his new position as Curator for Collections Research. And we say a fond farewell to Mary Reagan-Yttre, Senior Preparator in Paper Conservation, who has stepped down following eighteen years of service to the Center. I hope to meet many of you at a special evening Open House reception on Tuesday, October 22, which will feature tours of our collections and exhibitions led by curators and student guides. A selection of prints, drawings, photographs, rare books, and manuscripts will also be on view in the Study Room, with refreshments served in the Library Court. I look forward to seeing you there—please find me to say hello!

Best regards,
Courtney J. Martin