A Letter from the Director

Dear Kemper Art Museum community,

Art always matters, especially in times of crisis, even when the Museum’s doors remain temporarily closed and physical interaction with artworks is not possible. On behalf of the Kemper Art Museum, I want to express my well-wishes for all during this COVID-19 pandemic, as well as my deep gratitude for our members, supporters, and friends.

As a teaching museum, a collecting museum, and a university museum, our commitments remain as strong as ever. We will continue to invite you to explore our remarkable collection of artworks, to offer creative and intellectual engagement, and to facilitate timely and vital conversations about art and the perspectives on human life it brings, especially in a time of profound disruption. Although our physical surroundings have changed as we work from home, the work itself continues: developing and conceiving future exhibitions and publications, conducting collection research and provenance studies, creating resources for educators, and harnessing the power of technology to connect us while we are practicing social distancing.

I invite you to join us as we engage creative ways to interact with current exhibitions and the permanent collection. In the coming weeks physical artworks will come to you virtually, teaching activities for all ages of learners will ask for your interactive responses, and live discussions and programs will create new digital communities. Please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and watch your inbox for more information.

Many works in the Museum’s collection illuminate how artists challenged by emergency situations have responded with a heightened sense of creativity and innovation. One such example is L’oeil du silence (The Eye of Silence) by Max Ernst. Conceived in the United States while the artist was in exile from Nazi-occupied Europe, this multilayered painting depicts silent eyes surrounding eerie pools of water in an uncanny landscape that appears to be transforming itself without human intervention. Even though I always considered this painting as one of the cornerstones of our collection of Surrealism, with our current world turned upside down and essential human contact curtailed, I now see the painting as paradoxically offering a sense of place, instigating entirely new meaningful conversations.

I wish good health for everyone in our community, and I look forward to staying in touch.

With my very best wishes,

Sabine Eckmann, PhD

William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator