Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Welcomes Spared from the Storm: Masterworks from The New Orleans Museum of Art

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The New Orleans Museum of Art is sharing 89 of its finest works of European and American art - works that survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that ensued. The exhibition, Spared from the Storm: Masterworks from the New Orleans Museum of Art, will open at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts on Saturday, November 8, and continue through Sunday, February 8, 2009. Spared from the Storm features works from the 17th through the mid-20th century. Among them are paintings and sculptures by some of history's most influential and well-known artists.

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is sharing 89 of its finest works of European and American art from a 300-year period - works that survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that ensued. The exhibition, Spared from the Storm: Masterworks from the New Orleans Museum of Art, will open at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (http://www.kiarts.org) on Saturday, November 8, and continue through Sunday, February 8, 2009.

Spared from the Storm features works from the 17th through the mid-20th century. Among them are paintings and sculptures by some of history's most influential artists, including François Boucher, William Adolphe Bouguereau, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, John Singer Sargent and Giambattista Tiepolo.

The storm
In the early morning hours of Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans with unprecedented fury, forever altering the lives of its citizens. It knocked out the museum's electrical, plumbing and cooling systems, leaving only a small generator for alarm systems and emergency lights.

On Tuesday, the levees broke and a new nightmare began. Sixty-foot trees near the museum were uprooted, and eight-foot-deep waters surrounded the building.

But the museum's collection of 40,000 works of art were spared from the storm, thanks to prudent advance planning, the museum's location on a high ridge between the badly flooded Mid-City and Lakeview areas, and a small band of museum staff members and their families, all of whom chose to remain in the building to protect the collection.

A final crisis hit the museum after the waters had subsided. This catastrophe had a devastating impact on the museum's finances, forcing it to close its doors for six months, and to lay off 85 percent of its staff.

The exhibition
Following Hurricane Katrina, Wildenstein & Company of New York, one of the world's leading art galleries, hosted an exhibition of paintings, sculptures and drawings from NOMA that included a two-night benefit for the museum's Katrina Recovery Fund. The exhibition, originally called The Odyssey Continues, contained a treasury of European and American works, with a special emphasis on the French School, a strong suit in New Orleans.

Now known as Spared from the Storm, the exhibition comes to the KIA as its only Midwest venue.

Exhibition highlights

  • Works by Edgar Degas, who was a New Orleanian through his mother, and a resident of the city for six months beginning in 1872
  • A larger-than-life-size state portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, the official portraitist to the queen
  • A bronze cast of Auguste Rodin's life-size Age of Bronze, one of NOMA's finest sculptures
  • Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky's Sketch for "Several Circles" (1926), a study for the final work that now resides in New York's Guggenheim Museum
  • Two paintings by Spanish artist Joan Miró, a member of the Surrealist movement based in Paris in the early 20th century
  • Works by Pablo Picasso, including his 1960 painting Woman in an Armchair, a depiction of his lover, Jacqueline Roque
  • Claude Lefèbvre's 1670 portrait of Louis XIV, the "Sun King," for whom Louisiana was named
  • Italian Giambattista Tiepolo's easel painting Boy Holding a Book (ca. 1747-50), likely a portrait of the artist's youngest son, Lorenzo
  • The Surprise (1730-32), by the foremost painter of the Rococo, François Boucher, a playfully erotic example of the artist's early genre paintings
  • Robert Henri's 1909 painting The Blue Kimono, part of the NOMA's inaugural exhibition in 1911
  • Jackson Pollock's Composition (White, Black, Blue and Red on White) (1948), one of a small number of the artist's drip paintings that were executed on paper rather than canvas.

Tickets and hours
Individual tickets are available on the day of your visit at the KIA. Advance ticket sales are available for groups of 15 or more people. Ticket prices are $10 for general admission; $8 for students, seniors and groups; and $5 for KIA members.

Special extended hours for this exhibition are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m. The KIA is closed on Mondays and holidays.

This exhibition is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art to benefit its Katrina Recovery.

Spared from the Storm at the KIA is sponsored by the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, and presented by The CSM Group, Greenleaf Trust and Greenleaf Hospitality Group and Miller Johnson, Attorneys and Counselors. Media sponsorship is provided by the Kalamazoo Gazette, Michigan Radio and WGVU-TV.

Media notes
Digital images of works from this exhibition are available on request.

A media preview of the exhibition will take place Friday, November 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at the KIA, with special guest E. John Bullard, director of the NOMA. A continental breakfast will be served at 9:30 a.m.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (http://www.kiarts.org), part of the community since 1924, is a non-profit visual arts museum and school. Its mission is to offer to the residents of Kalamazoo County and West Michigan quality visual arts, educational programs and services that encourage the creation and appreciation of art.

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Paul A. Stermer
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