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Fifty Years of New Ideas 

The 50th anniversary exhibition, When We Were Young: Rethinking Abstraction from the University Art Collections (1967-present), opens today at the University Art Museum.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 6, 2017) – The University at Albany Art Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a new exhibit featuring signature works from the earliest years of its collections.

The exhibit, When We Were Young: Rethinking Abstraction from the University Art Collections (1967-present) opens today and runs through Dec. 16. The show illuminates late-Modernist abstraction as it relates to current trends in contemporary art.

The museum will celebrate on Friday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m., with a 50th Anniversary and Homecoming Welcome reception for students, faculty, exhibiting artists, and alumni. The event is free and open to the public.

Gov. Nelson Rockefeller

Gov. Nelson Rockefeller at the opening of the University Art Museum in 1967.  

When the museum first opened its doors in 1967, its inaugural exhibition – Painting and Sculpture from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection – featured 53 artworks by some of the most influential figures in 20th century modern art. Gov. Rockefeller stressed the importance of a public university museum that “presents new ideas through art and culture.”

Rockefeller adorned the walls of the Governor’s Mansion with modern artwork from his collection. He was quite taken with Architect Edward Durell Stone’s Modernist design for the Uptown Campus. Stone designed the museum, a 9,000-square-foot facility described by the Albany Times Union as an “enormous, lofty room,” marked by “grand, fenestral walls and tall pilasters,” which evoked a “feeling of freedom and space and the breaking down of barriers.”

More than 400 exhibitions later, the museum remains committed to the idea that firsthand acquaintance with contemporary art provides a gateway to a larger world.

“A baseline familiarity with the language of art can open doors and bridge gaps, and the University Art Museum is here to give students, as well as the larger community, the tools to speak that language, to understand it, and to make it their own,” said Curator and Interim Director Corinna Ripps Schaming.

When We Were Young aims to highlight the museum’s collections as an art historical resource for scholarship and new knowledge, while exhibiting earlier abstract works and placing them against the perspective of the 20th century’s “new ideas of art and culture.”

The exhibition shines a fresh light on late-Modernist abstraction as it relates to current trends in contemporary art. Artists include: Josef Albers, Max Bill, Jack Bosson, Chryssa, Gene Davis, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Michael Kidner, Kim Lim, Luis Molinari-Flores, Henry Pearson and Peter Taylor.

Other 50th anniversary events this fall:

When We Were Young: Rethinking Abstraction, exhibition tours with Robert R. Shane on Saturday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

• Artist’s Talk and Screening with photographer and video artist Sara Cwynar on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m.

• Lecture by poet and art critic John YauAbove and Below the Radar: Artists Working Today, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 4:30 p.m.

• Art Lab with Christine Snyder (MFA ’16) on Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. – Oct. 14, Cut Paper Collage (highlighted artist: Chryssa); Oct. 28 – Tape Art (highlighted artist: Gene Davis); Nov. 18 – Coloring Book (highlighted artist: Luis Molinari-Flores); and Dec. 2, Paint an Ornament (highlighted artist: Marietta Hoferer).

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.