The Railroad (1922), an etching by Edward Hopper, is part of the University Art Collection's American print holdings. The print collection features several of Hopper's works, including the recently acquired Evening Wind (1921).

Building the University Art Collection

As an ever-growing work in progress, the University Art Collection (UAC) stands as a testament to the diversity of creativity. The UAC's more than 45,000 objects include paintings, photographs, prints, textiles, ceramics, and sculptures. Many of these items belong to extensive collections of Indian folk art, 19th-century Japanese photography, 20th-century American prints, and Asian ceramics. Over the years, works have been acquired through purchases at auctions, galleries, and from individual artists; in trades with other institutions; and as gifts from donors.
      One of the UAC's most impressive holdings—on sheer volume alone—is the print collection, which numbers more than 25,000 pieces. Names and styles, both familiar and obscure, traverse the vast territory of the art world, from centuries-old Japanese woodcuts to Warhol's contemporary pop. In recent months, the UAC bolstered the print collection by acquiring three prints at auction—Rembrandt's Landscape with a Cow Drinking(1650), Edward Hopper's Evening Wind(1921), and Charles Sheeler's Delmonico Building (1926). While the Rembrandt print enhances an existing collection, the Hopper and Sheeler works further strengthen the UAC's American print holdings. "Our American print collection gives a wonderful sense of America between the two world wars," says Domenic Iacono, UAC associate director and print collection curator. "We can show you images of industry, urban life, and farm life. It represents a unique American experience."
      Scouting for such images requires vigilance by UAC director Alfred Collette '47, G'48, G'52, curator David Prince G'83, and Iacono. They are constantly on the lookout for items that can enrich the collection, combing through auction catalogs, exploring galleries, and talking with art collectors. Ultimately, they must know the collection inside and out and ask themselves how a particular item will fortify it. They must determine whether an object connects with the rest of the collection, serves as a missing link for an envisioned exhibition, or is useful as a teaching tool. With prints, for instance, they consider whether a piece represents a new style of printmaking, the genesis of an artist's style, or an artist's influence on others. "Our objective is to create a resource that best meets the needs of our audience, primarily the faculty and students," Prince says. "This allows us to be aware of what is needed to make individual areas stronger and create links among those areas so that the entire collection works as a homogenous group. When we collect, we look for an object that fills a gap, that makes a statement not just about itself, but about something else."
      While for the past five years the UAC has mainly focused on collecting prints, it continues to supplement its diverse holdings. Last year, the UAC added 337 items, including African art pieces. "As an institution, we want to make sure that what we acquire now will leave the collection better off in the future," Collette says. "When we look today at objects we've acquired over the past 20 years, we're glad we collected them when we did."
                                                                                                      —JAY COX

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