Museums across the country, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, are delving into their permanent collections for exhibitions, rather than bringing in expensive productions. All museums are facing hard times, and mining the vaults saves money. It also is a great way for the public to see treasures that are not normally on display. The New York Times wrote a whole article about it. The Academy is no exception. Theresa Papanikolas, our curator of European and American Art who joined the Academy last fall, has been doing “vault archeology” for the exhibition “From Whistler to Warhol: Modernism on Paper” that will open next spring. Her research, she reports, has given her a chance to mine our stellar collection of 19th- and 20th-century prints and drawings.
She has discovered that the Academy has an entire drawer full of Picassos. As well as a beautiful print by Sonia Delaunay, wife of Robert, whose ‘Rainbow’ (1913) is on the cover of the Academy’s “Selected Works” catalogue.
“But my favorite discovery,” said Papanikolas, whose specialty is Surrealism and Dada (her latest book is Doctrinal Nourishment: Art and Anarchism in the Time of James Ensor), “has been a cache of Surrealist prints, including work by Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Stanley William Hayter, André Masson, and Joan Miró!”
As she goes through the drawers of the print vault, Papanikolas organizes work into sections (Cubism, German Expressionism, Pop Art, etc.). “That helps me to narrow down what to include based on what will work visually.”