The current installation of the Focus on the Peck Collection at the Ackland Art Museum features three works: “Noli mi tangere,” a Rembrandt drawing, a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer and a painting by Gerard Seghers.
Out of those three works of art, only the Rembrandt drawing is from the Peck Collection.
The collection includes six other Rembrandt drawings, which made the Ackland the first public university art museum to have such a collection.
On the idea behind the current installation of the exhibit, Peter Nisbet, deputy director for curatorial affairs, said we can bring works from the Peck Collection into dialogue with other works from the Ackland.
“The hope here is that people will compare," he said. "Look at the drawing and the woodcut and the painting. What is in common, what is different and what is determined by the medium.”
This is the first time works other than those from the collection have been featured as part of the exhibit but will probably not be the last time.
“I’m sure we'll come back and do this kind of comparison,” Nisbet said. “One of the exciting things about the Peck Collection (consisting) of 134 drawings is that it offers many conversations with other works in the Ackland Collection. I could see us doing a mixture of a Peck Collection drawing and some contemporary drawings, if there was a point of comparison where the 17th-century drawing could really teach you to see the contemporary art and vice-versa.”
Teaching is a central theme to the Peck Collection and the current installation is perfectly representative of this.
The three works all depict the same scene of a resurrected Jesus Christ appearing before Mary Magdalene in the garden.
Sheldon Peck, who, along with his wife Leena, donated the art making up the Peck Collection, was quick to discuss the emotion of the scene portrayed and how the simple lines of the Rembrandt drawing can capture the emotion of a single instant.
Peck used the example of the scene Rembrandt rendered in which Mary Magdalene recognizes the resurrected Christ and knocks over jars of incense in her emotional reaction.
“It shows Rembrandt’s ability of capturing a split-second moment in time," he said.
Peck said he hopes that visitors will compare the three works in the collection and come away with more knowledge than they had before.
“It requires and invites thinking so when you’ve seen it in an educated way you can leave the museum or the image knowing more about life and about art than you knew before,” Peck said.
Katie Ziglar, director of the Ackland, said the donation’s impact on learning could not be overstated.
“It certainly already has had a huge impact at the Ackland where we are primarily concerned with teaching UNC students of all kinds and, of course, being a great resource for the community and the region,” she said.
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