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Charles Pollock: Modernism in the Making

Aug. 18 – Dec. 30, 2018

Collection Gallery

Charles Pollock, #95, 1967. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, gift of George F. Schwelinger in memory of Ella Schwelinger.

Esteban Vicente, Princeton No. 1, 1966. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, gift of Mrs. Esteban Vicente.

Helen Frankenthaler, Untitled, 1950. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, gift of Clement Greenberg.

Morris Louis, Alpha Theta, from the Unfurleds series, 1961. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, gift of Mrs. Marcella Louis Brenner.

Alexander Calder, Sunrise over the Pyramid, 1965. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, purchase, funded in part by the Class of 1958.

A professor of art at Michigan State University for more than two decades (1942–68), Charles Pollock left an indelible mark on the university, the art department, and the MSU Broad collection. This exhibition seeks to recover the legacy of this prominent artist and trace his lines of influence, specifically through the notable artists he brought to campus and significant works of art acquired by the museum thanks to his tenure. The exhibition marks the 50 year anniversary of his retirement from MSU and the 30 year anniversary of his passing in 1988. To celebrate this important figure works by Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Pollock himself (to name a few) will be on display, as well as archival materials sourced from the Estate of Charles Pollock that provide further depth to the story. These documents and photographs highlight Pollock’s relationships with other artists and the influential (albeit controversial) art critic Clement Greenberg, with whom he maintained close ties.

The older brother of famed Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, Charles Pollock was not only an accomplished painter but also a lauded muralist, designer, and typographer. Initially he came to the greater Lansing area on a Works Project Administration (WPA) mural assignment in 1939—the fruits of his labor remain on view at the Lansing Water Treatment Plant in downtown Lansing and at the Fairchild Auditorium on the MSU campus. After the federally funded WPA program folding in the early 1940s, he accepted a position in the art department at the university. This exhibition brings to light the work of this important figure and his impact on the cultural landscape of the region. He was a powerful artistic force and a conduit to the broader trends of the era that came to define modernist painting.

Charles Pollock: Modernism in the Making is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curator. Support for this exhibition is provided by a gift from an anonymous donor and the Elizabeth Halsted endowment fund.