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The Vault: Basil Wolverton

Dec. 1, 2020 – Jan. 2, 2021

The Vault

Basil Wolverton, <i>One mighty hydrogen bomb will suddenly turn a teeming metropolis into a vast, poisonous crater. Amid the outer wreckage, will be found tens of thousands of mutilated bodies–too far away to be vaporized, too near to live! This horrible devastation NOW BEING PLANNED is the climax of the second seal and introduces the fifth seal–The Great Tribulation (Rev. 6:3-4: 9-11)</i>, 1954. MSU purchase, Eli and Edythe Broad Fund for the Acquisition of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Basil Wolverton, One mighty hydrogen bomb will suddenly turn a teeming metropolis into a vast, poisonous crater. Amid the outer wreckage, will be found tens of thousands of mutilated bodies–too far away to be vaporized, too near to live! This horrible devastation NOW BEING PLANNED is the climax of the second seal and introduces the fifth seal–The Great Tribulation (Rev. 6:3-4: 9-11), 1954. MSU purchase, Eli and Edythe Broad Fund for the Acquisition of Modern and Contemporary Art.

This work was selected by Michelle Ratchford (class of 2021), who explains: “I chose this work because the portrayal of melting structures and deteriorating people was visually intense in a unique, comic style I haven’t seen before. I was raised Christian and attended a Christian school for six years for K–5, and I was drawn to the biblical reference the title made to the book of Revelation, which is typically a depiction of what is to come in a very distant future. However, I was personally reminded of World War II. I am majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Religious Studies, so I like to see religious representations in art. I learned that this work is part of a series that portrays the faces of those impacted by famine, disease, giant tsunamis, crumbling cities, and infertile land as a repercussion of atomic bombs. It was interesting to see Wolverton depict Revelation this way, considering that this work was created less than ten years after World War II had ended. Maybe Wolverton had similar feelings and opinions as I do.”

The Vault

The Vault, which also houses some of the works from our permanent collection, is dedicated to featuring and displaying works chosen by MSU students who work at the museum. Each month, one of our student gallery guides selects a piece from our collection and writes a short text explaining why they chose it and believe it should be displayed. By providing our gallery guides with an opportunity to participate in the curatorial process of selection and display, we aim to open a dialogue with the student community while simultaneously sharing with the public works from the collection that would otherwise remain in storage.