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BIG Deal: Sizeable Paintings from the Permanent Collection opens September 5 at the Palmer Museum of Art

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Jerome Witkin, Kill-Joy (To the Passion of Käthe Kollwitz), 1975–76, oil on canvas, 76.47.

BIG Deal: Sizeable Paintings from the Permanent Collection, a new exhibition on view September 5 through December 17 at the Palmer Museum of Art, highlights monumental canvases from the permanent collection—many of which have not been on view in recent years—in an attempt to unpack preoccupations with size in post-1945 art. What compelled these artists to work at such a large scale? What does sheer size argue about the paintings in question?

The canvases on view in BIG Deal, all of which measure at least five feet in a single dimension, range from abstract to figurative. Drawing on the ambitious scale of academic history painting, a number of the paintings explore the narrative potential of the nude figure, while other politically charged works warn against violence brought on by war, the displacement of peoples, and cultural conflict. Other large canvases, however, are not so declamatory. Quiet interior scenes and quotidian objects serve as artistic fodder for painters desiring to monumentalize the commonplace.

While the exhibition highlights numerous works created—and acquired—in the 1970s, BIG Deal reminds us that concerns with size continue to loom large in contemporary art.

Keri Mongelluzzo, graduate student in art history, will lead a Gallery Talk titled BIG Deal: Sizeable Paintings from the Permanent Collection at 12:10 p.m. on Friday, September 15, in the exhibition gallery located on the museum’s second floor.

Joyce Robinson, curator, will lead a Gallery Talk titled BIG Deal: Sizeable Paintings from the Permanent Collection at 12:10 p.m. on Friday, October 20, in the exhibition gallery located on the museum’s second floor.

All programs are held at the Palmer Museum of Art and are sponsored by the Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art unless otherwise noted.

Also on view at the Palmer Museum of Art this fall are Asher B. Durand: To Begin Again, September 5 through December 10; and New Acquisitions: Minna Citron after Atelier 17, September 5 through December 10.

The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State is located on Curtin Road and admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and some holidays. Reduced hours: Saturday, November 18, through Sunday, November 26; and Saturday, December 16, through Thursday, December 21, noon to 4:00 p.m. Closed: Thursday, November 23; Friday, November 24; and Friday, December 22, 2017, through Monday, January 1, 2018.

The Palmer Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.