Mixed bag

This is, one supposes, the kind of exhibit that small institutional museums have to put together on occasion. The work currently on display in the upper gallery at the University of Virginia Museum of Art has pretty much just one thing in common: it’s all been purchased with money from the university’s Curriculum Support Fund.
So don’t wander up there expecting to find work by one artist, or work from one period, or work in one particular medium. This is really a shout-out to the people with the cash who make things happen for the UVA Art Museum. Evidently as a form of thanks, they’ve put together a sampling of the art that this particular money source has made possible for them.
Needless to say, the exhibit– which includes work of a wide variety of media and time periods– is very much a mixed bag. Still, there are little pockets of commonality. While going light on oils and sculpture, the museum procured a whole lot of prints and photographs. There are also a few ’60s-to-contemporary works thrown in for good measure.    Of what’s there, here’s what I liked best: two etchings from the German artist Kathe Kollwitz, which are really stunning. Kollwitz’s fascination with war and death surfaces in the  mood-thick and corpse-strewn “Tod, Frau, und Kind,” and “Schachtfeld.” The dark themes and corpse imagery continue along the side wall with Francisco de Goya’s etching, “Cartloads to the Cemetery.” 
St. Lawrence may not be a corpse yet, as depicted in Cornelis Cort’s boiling print, “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence,” but dangled over a roasting flame with a pointed stick in his ribs, he isn’t far off. In a more abstract and less disturbing vein, Annu Vertanen’s “Resource of All” places shining blue points like stars in field of purple. The exhibit also finds space for some terrific photographs by Diane Arbus and that seedy crime scene documentarian, Weegee.

The University of Virginia Art Museum exhibits “Art Beyond the Classroom: Selections from the Curriculum Support Fund,” through June 30. Rugby Road. 924-4298

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