Highlights of the Spencer Museum of Art

The Spencer Museum of Art, located on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence,
houses an internationally known collection that is deep and diverse,
currently numbering more than 40,000 artworks and artifacts in all media.

Dinner Conversation with Nancy (1983) by Roger ShimomuraSpencer Museum of Art

Highlights of the Spencer Museum of Art

Drawn from the Spencer Museum of Art’s permanent collection, this exhibition highlights works of artistic and cultural significance.  Just as the Museum serves as a catalyst for interdisciplinary learning, the selected objects illuminate and connect diverse subjects, including regional and world history, medicine and science, religious studies, and art history. These artworks form a collection that spans the cultural, geographical, and chronological history of the world, with strengths in European and American painting, sculpture, and prints; Japanese Edo-period painting and prints; and global indigenous material culture. 

Yaoshi fo 藥師佛 Bhaisajyaguru (Medicine Buddha) Yaoshi fo 藥師佛 Bhaisajyaguru (Medicine Buddha) by ChinaSpencer Museum of Art

This Buddha is associated with healing and medicine. When the Chinese monk Yijing (635–713) translated the Sanskrit scripture Bhaisajyaguru Sutra, worship of the Medicine Buddha expanded in China.

凱風快晴 (The South Wind brings Fine Weather) (circa 1831, Edo period (1600–1868)) by Katsushika HokusaiSpencer Museum of Art

This print is from a series titled “Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji.” Here Mt. Fuji is depicted in the beginning of summer, just after the south winds have begun to blow and clear away the rainy season.

Christ Carrying the Cross Christ Carrying the Cross by Giorgio VasariSpencer Museum of Art

Giorgio Vasari was a successful artist, architect, and gifted author of the 16th century. This painting depticts Christ carrying the cross, a subject Vasari painted several times in his career.

La Pia de' Tolomei La Pia de' Tolomei by Dante Gabriel RossettiSpencer Museum of Art

Rossetti capturesa lonely, contemplative La Pia toying with her wedding ring while being kept in a castle in the swamps of Maremma, Italy. In the foreground, the sundial suggests the passage of time.

John Brown (1939) by John Steuart CurrySpencer Museum of Art

Curry describes the panel from which this was taken as "the fratricidal fury that first flamed in the plains of Kansas, the tragic prelude to the last bloody feud of English-speaking people."

Knight, Death, and the Devil Knight, Death, and the Devil by Albrecht DürerSpencer Museum of Art

Dürer’s classically proportioned Christian knight progresses steadfastly forward with moral rectitude, unflinchingly indifferent to the grotesque phantasms conjured up in a menacing landscape.

Sunflower quilt Sunflower quilt by Christina Hays MalcomSpencer Museum of Art

Floral designs provide inspiration for many quilts, yet few quilters actually drew from nature. However, this shows Malcolm’s careful observation of the sunflower’s leaves, stalks, and petals

Landscape with Four Trees Landscape with Four Trees by Birger SandzénSpencer Museum of Art

In Paris, Sandzén discovered pointillist technique and divisionist color. Here he placed pigments on the canvas so that the color mixing is done by the eye of the viewer rather than on his palette.

Et Toujours! Et Jamais! Et Toujours! Et Jamais! by Pierre Eugène Emile HébertSpencer Museum of Art

The poetic title of this macabre sculpture can be translated as “Forever and ever!” or “Always! Never!” This enigmatic title invites a variety of interpretations on the transience of life.

The Steerage (1907) by Alfred StieglitzSpencer Museum of Art

This scene from contemporary life is proclaimed as Stieglitz’s first Modernist photograph—a work that stands in stark contrast to his previous painterly photographic renderings of Symbolist subjects.

Dinner Conversation with Nancy (1983) by Roger ShimomuraSpencer Museum of Art

Shimomura is known for his print series Oriental Masterpieces and Oriental Masterprints, which combine traditional Japanese print styles, American cartoon imagery, and a contemporary sense of design.

Amitābha (阿弥陀仏 Amida butsu; 阿弥陀如来 Amidha nyorai) Amitābha (阿弥陀仏 Amida butsu; 阿弥陀如来 Amidha nyorai) by JapanSpencer Museum of Art

Amitābha, whose name means “limitless light” in Sanskrit, is venerated in the Pure Land sect of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, which teaches mindfulness through the recitation of Amitābha’s name.

Rustic Basin Rustic Basin by Bernard Palissy and WorkshopSpencer Museum of Art

Figures on the basin are lifelike because they were cast from molds of real frogs, snakes, fish, and plants. In addition to his acclaim as a ceramicist, Palissy is recognized as an early naturalist.

Robinia pseud-acacia America (circa 1851–1854) by Anna AtkinsSpencer Museum of Art

One of the medium's first female practitioners, Anna Atkins learned the skills of photography from William Henry Fox Talbot and Sir John Herschel, two of its inventors.

86 Bends of the Kaw (2004) by Lisa GrossmanSpencer Museum of Art

Lisa Grossman documents her experience flying east to west over the Kaw River, conveying the bends and shapes of the river valley as witnessed during a sunset.

The Founding of Chicago (circa 1933) by Aaron DouglasSpencer Museum of Art

The Founding of Chicago articulates powerful ideas about the often uncelebrated role of African Americans in the building of American cities.

cradleboard cradleboard by Kiowa peoplesSpencer Museum of Art

Cradleboards reflect a need for safety and mobility in the lives of Great Plains people. They were engineered to keep babies secure and comfortable, while allowing women freedom to work and travel.

ngunja (carved chair) ngunja (carved chair) by Chokwe peoplesSpencer Museum of Art

The European form of this chair was likely introduced to the Chokwe by Portuguese traders in the 18th century. However, most of the images on it depict traditional Chokwe customs and beliefs.

eider duck blanket eider duck blanket by Greenland Inuit peoplesSpencer Museum of Art

The Inuit often used duck skins to make clothing and blankets, which were much warmer than seal skins and could be used when caribou or other thick furs were not available.

Sophie-Ntombikayise Sophie-Ntombikayise by Mary SibandeSpencer Museum of Art

Sibande’s installations represent the artist’s impetus to transcend and interrogate constructions of domestic servitude and expectations of simplicity and submission based on race and gender.

Still We Rise Still We Rise by Marla JacksonSpencer Museum of Art

Led by Marla Jackson, eight high school students from Lawrence, KS,researched Quantrill's Raid (1863) and sought a deeper understanding of the conflict on both sides of the Kansas/Missouri border.

Credits: Story

Organized and prepared by the Spencer Museum of Art, 2016.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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