Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

UD Alumna Anna Marley, Curator, and Dr. Camara Holloway, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History speaking with private tour group

UD Alumni joined Dr. Anna Marley, Curator and UD alumna, and Dr. Camara Holloway, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, on the evening of April 11, for a private tour of Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, the Spring 2012 exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The New York Times described Marley’s retrospective of Tanner’s career as an “historically gripping exhibition.” Tanner was the first African American artist to receive international acclaim for works that included portraiture, genre, and modern interpretations of biblical subjects and orientalist scenes from North Africa and the Holy Land. The exhibition traced the Philadelphia-born artist’s life and career from his studies with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to his success as an expatriate artist in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century.

This program was a collaboration between the Friends of Art History and the Philadelphia Alumni Club. It is part of a series of cultural events launched by the Friends of Art History to introduce the UD community to the work of its art historians. Anna Marley trained in the Department of Art History as a specialist in late 18th- and early 19th-century American art. While at UD, she received a Research Assistantship from the Office of the Provost that offered her the opportunity to do research in the area of African American art. This assistantship culminated in the exhibition The Art of Edward L. Loper, Sr.: On the Path of the Masters for the University Museums. Marley believes that “it was this combined experience of academic research and hands-on curatorship that propelled me to my current position as Curator of Historical American Art at PAFA and allowed me to successfully curate Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit. I am proud to have shared this exhibition, the largest and most comprehensive show of Tanner’s work to date, with the Blue Hen community.”

Marley and Professor Holloway are strengthening existing ties between the University and PAFA that benefit current curators-in-training. For the Spring 2012 semester, Holloway designed a graduate seminar centering on the exhibition: “It is a real pleasure to see our alums flourishing in important positions in the art world. Anna Marley has produced an exhibition that makes a tremendous contribution to art history with impact on several fields, especially American art, African American art, and modern art. The partnership the department has established with PAFA through the Curatorial Track Ph.D. program has paved the way for the kind of on-site seminar I am conducting this semester. I was happy to share our experiences and insights with a larger audience at the alumni event at PAFA.”

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