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Parting Shot: Richard Barnes 

click to enlarge Richard Barnes, Murmur #23, Dec. 6, 2006, 2006. From “Recent Acquisitions: Works on Paper,” January 18 to March 30, at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
  • Richard Barnes, Murmur #23, Dec. 6, 2006, 2006. From “Recent Acquisitions: Works on Paper,” January 18 to March 30, at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.

Gustave Doré, Frederick Church, Francis Bacon, and Albrecht Dürer—the permanent collection at Vassar's Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is graced with work by some of the world's most influential artists. Since Matthew Vassar started purchasing art in the 1860s to be used in classes at the women's college that he founded, the museum's collection has been continually added to through purchases and gifts.

"Recent Acquisitions: Works on Paper," on view from January 18 through March 30, features 55 pieces collected over the past several years, including drawings, prints, artists' books, photographs, and a film. The works, ranging from Rembrandt etchings to Warhol prints, hold true to the museum's already ecclectic and far-reaching offerings that, according to exhibition co-curator Patricia Phagan, have been "weighed for their teaching value, for filling gaps in particular areas, and for conveying an aesthetic and conceptual boldness."

Perhaps most notably is the development of the museum's photography collection, to which more than 320 pieces have been added in the past five years. The Advisory Council on Photography, an advocacy group founded in 1998, has championed the acquisition of more experimental pieces, such as Richard Barnes's 2006 Murmur #23, part of a black-and-white series which captures thousands of migrating starlings over the outskirts of Rome. In the series, the chaotic flutterings of each individual bird creates mass, shifting shapes in the sky, ranging from what looks like smeared thumb prints to dark storm clouds to television static.

"Recent Acquisitions: Works on Paper" will be on view from January 18 to March 30. The opening reception on January 25 kicks off with a panel discussion led by Art Center director James Mundy, "Collectors, the Market, and the Art Museum: An Aesthetic Ecosystem," at 5:30pm in Taylor Hall.

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  • Richard Barnes's Murmur #23 is this month's parting shot.

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