Share the Past, Create the Future: Selections from the Akron Art Museum Collection
Over the course of a century, the Akron Art Museum’s collection has grown to more than 7,000 objects, many of which are rarely seen. To commemorate the fantastic progress the institution has made over the past 100 years, we’ve placed many of these works of art on display in our collection galleries, alongside longtime favorites. The spaces are fully reinstalled and revitalized with new and fresh conversations around six core themes:
THE OTHERWORLDLY AND THE FANTASTIC
The atrocities of World War I and its abysmal aftermath drove many artists working in the early-twentieth century to create works inspired by psychology, fantasy, science fiction, and spirituality. Since then, artists have remained motivated to produce art grounded in these areas of thought. Thus, the artworks within this theme convey meaning through fantastical imagery.
THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
Generally viewed as a means to display natural beauty, landscape art often unveils subjective and political undertones. Under this theme, some artists employ unique materials and photographic techniques to subvert the landscape tradition, while other, more conventional works are seen anew.
Artists can find subject matter for their work simply by looking at the people, places, and things around them. However, as the works within this theme demonstrate, there are many different ways to show reality—some artists do so through dense and intricate detail, while others freely explore imaginative styles.
IMAGES OF BLACKNESS
During the 1920s, the growing population of Black artists and creative thinkers in Harlem prompted a Black Pride movement that motivated countless artists to illustrate the hardships and joys of Black Americans. The works within this theme show how, since then, artists have continued to develop this subject matter, challenging disparities of representation and depicting the subtle varieties within the Black experience.
When art does not show anything recognizable and instead is composed of pure shapes and colors, it is called abstract. That label applies to each work of art under this theme. Artists have often pursued abstraction as a way to immediately communicate their feelings and experiences, or other concepts that cannot be represented directly by images. Through abstraction, artists have also explored the materials, processes, and tools of art-making, and the experience of viewing artwork.
THE NATURAL WORLD
Nature can be beautiful, overwhelming, nurturing, dangerous, and more. For perhaps as long as art has existed, artists have hoped to capture these qualities in their work. Many have also sought to examine the ever-changing relationship between humans and the natural world. Each in their own way, the artists featured under this theme extend and expand these traditions.
In organizing the collection by theme rather than by historical period, we invite you to experience art in a way that reflects the present day, a moment that is both troubled and expansive. And, in shaking up our collection galleries, we are excited to share the depth and excellence of the museum’s collection.
AKRON ART MUSEUM
One South High Street
Akron, Ohio 44308