A pair of marble lions from 15th-century Italy flanks a wide opening between two of the UMFA’s European art galleries. Modestly scaled, these little-noticed figures are each barely 2 feet long and less than 10 inches high. The lion on the right is calm but alert; on the left, the lioness nurses two small cubs and barely lifts her head from the ground as her exhausted body seems almost to melt and flatten into its own marble base. Less ferocious guards than quiet witnesses, the faces of these resting creatures are carved with softly rounded snouts that present as nearly human in both shape and expression.
One wonders what door or stairway these intensely human beasts once flanked? Drill holes clearly visible on their manes and paws suggest additional attachments and ornament for these now simple and striped down figures. Originally part of a more complicated and perhaps richly colored architectural ensemble, this pair of recumbent lions now live among us, not just as artifacts but also as patient observers and watchers within the UMFA’s galleries. Quiet reminders of our humanist past, these lions are also subtle provocateurs for the material complexity of artistic production and the visual complexity of contemporary life.
– Monty Paret
On January 18th, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will be closing its galleries to upgrade the vapor barrier system in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building on the University of Utah campus. The project is expected to take a year, with the galleries expected to be reopened, with a new installation of the museum’s permanent galleries, in Spring of 2017 .In anticipation of the museum’s closing, we’ve asked some local artists, art lovers and art professionals to tell us which piece from the museum’s permanent collection they will miss most over this next year. You can see the posts at http://artistsofutah.org/15Bytes/index.php/tag/long-live-umfa/
The UMFA will kick off its remodeling and reinstallation project with a celebratory weekend of free admission to the galleries and the Museum’s most popular art experiences. The Long Live Art! Kickoff Party on Saturday, January 16, and Sunday, January 17, is the public’s last opportunity to visit the UMFA before the Museum pauses its exhibition program (for more information visit http://www.umfa.utah.edu).
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