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Explore VMFA’s vast collection and world-class exhibitions in depth through Collection Stories. Stories take inspiration from the rich history and connections discovered through the artists and artwork in the permanent collection, temporary special exhibitions, collectors, and archival research. Select a story below to start exploring!
Elegance and Wonder: Masterpieces of European Art from the Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection and works from VMFA’s permanent collection are shown together to highlight how certain pairings can spark dialogue about the purpose, meaning and importance an artwork can have on the narrative of art history.
Explore the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the mid-1970s - mid-1980s and the artists that used decorative motifs and designs as the main subjects of their paintings. By doing so, pushed against an exclusionary Western art historical narrative by referencing marginalized artistic traditions like quilting, metalwork and embroidery.
Words Matter underscores the diversity of contemporary Native experience, highlighting artists who combine text and image to chronicle tragedies of history, but also to supply messages of hope, humor, survival and prosperity. Untold History showcases Indigenous comic book and graphic novel artists and writers who meld contemporary culture with their rich heritage and identity.
“The South got something to say.”
Explore the themes of the exhibition with selected examples of visual artwork and music. Discover how Black artists and musical legends draw upon visual, sonic, and material traditions to unpack what it means to be in and a part of the Dirty South.
Expressionism is our understanding; it’s central concept is not a style, it is a Weltanschauung, a philosophy of life. . . . But it looked like something I had never seen before. People whom I tell about this usually ask me, “Did you like it?” But I cannot answer that! It was beyond “liking.” It was beyond anything I had seen before. It was like entering a new world.—Anne Fischer, 1994
Native peoples’ philosophies on land insist that land and people are inseparable parts of a living spirit. The arrival of Europeans, however, introduced a diametrically opposing worldview based on their interpretations of Christianity and expansionism. Presented in pairings, the works here serve to visualize these perspectives and remind us that land is much more than the soil beneath our feet.
Cutting across continents, cultures, and a millennium, this Installation Story brings together works from VMFA’s permanent collections that were created in regions where Islam is or has been the dominant religion, or by artists from these places. Some themes are recurrent—the written word, self-awareness, cultural tension—but perhaps most apparent is the great diversity of these works.
From 1973 to 1980, a group of African American artists in New York City published The Black Photographers Annual. The idea emerged from the collective of African American photographers known as the Kamoinge Workshop (Kamoinge, from the Kikuyu language of Kenya, means “to work together”). The forty-nine artists featured in the book, however, far exceeded the boundaries of the collective.