Art collector Frances Bowes recently gave the Harvard Art Museums a sculpture by conceptual artist Fred Wilson, Untitled (1992). Like much of Wilson’s work, it profoundly challenges historical and cultural narratives. As the artist says, “One can view my artwork as rethinking the relationships between the ancients and contemporary notions of power and status.” Here two unrelated mass-produced plaster casts depicting Greek and Egyptian figures in the traditional poses of their respective cultures are joined together to provoke questions about social norms and their enforcement. “I enjoy the complexities this work raises,” Wilson continued. “It’s all about historical context, racial notions, and ideas of aesthetics.”
Bowes’s gift arrives at the launch of our Campaign for Gifts of Works of Art. Because our collections are the foundation of our teaching mission, acquiring important works of art between now and our opening in fall 2014 will help ensure that our galleries, Art Study Center, and otherlearning spaces are able to tell more complete and nuanced stories of the world’s great art and will serve as engines for great ideas.