Alumni

Forged in the Fringes, Peter Selz, AM'49, PhD'54, Reflects on his Career in Modern Art

In the recently-published biography Peter Selz: Sketches of a Life in Art, author Paul J. Karlstrom details Peter Selz's illustrious career as an art historian, which Selz states "has consisted of looking at art that I think is excellent--whether German expressionism then or Morris Graves now--that deserve to be seen and is on the periphery." Selz, now 93, has written over fifty books and articles on art and art history, and befriended artists such as Mark Rothko and Sam Francis. He also formed friendships with several artists he met during his time as a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

After escaping Nazi Germany at the age of 17, Selz attended the University on the GI Bill, studying Art History under professors Ulrich Middeldorf and Joshua C. Taylor. In 1954, Selz earned his PhD with a 600-page dissertation that examined the work of artists such as Kandinsky, Beckmann, and Emil Nolde within social and political contexts. It became an extremely influential book within the field, German Expressionist Painting, and is still in print.

In the 1960s, Selz became a professor of art and founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California. His home in Berkeley is a testament to his long and thriving career--it contains works such as a Beckmann self-portrait and the painting Iris (pictured), a gift from Sam Francis. Far from retiring, Selz remains dedicated to writing, teaching, and curating.

More information about Selz's work, including his connections to the University, can be found in the fall issue of Tableau.

Anthony Elms, MFA'95, to Co-Curate Whitney Museum's 2014 Biennial

Anthony Elms, associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, has been selected to curate one floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art for its 2014 Biennial. The Biennial acts as a platform to present shows that illustrate the state of contemporary art in the country. He joins two additional curators who will also have creative control over their own floors. Elms, a 1995 MFA graduate, was selected by the museum's director and staff members to participate in what Donna DeSalvo, the Whitney's chief curator, calls an experiment: "By slicing the museum up like a layer cake and seeing how it will look collectively, it gives the curators the opportunity to express their own points of view, each on a different floor.” The 2014 Biennial will be a historic one for the museum, as it is the last time the event will take place in the Whitney's Marcel Breuer building before the museum moves to its new location in the meatpacking district.

Elms recently contributed to "Wall Text", an exhibit that was on display throughout the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

UChicago Writers Include University in Cast of Characters

Many University of Chicago alumni who go on to publish fiction—such as Philip Roth, AM'55, Saul Bellow, X’39, Andrew Greeley, AM’61, PhD’62, Sara Paretsky, AM’69, MBA’77, PhD’77 , and Georg Mann, AB’35—find the University irresistible as a source of setting, conflict, or in some situations, character. Authors have chosen to use the University as a backdrop for characters stalled on dissertation work, as a site of social or political progress, and often as a comfort and inspiration to characters looking to live, in Philip Roth's words, a life that is "enormous." These "enormous" lives are fraught with a number of failures and successes, but for alumni, current faculty members, and even non-alumni, the University as a character or setting is a captivating concept. For some authors though, the captivation turns to intrigue as Alzina Stone Dale, AM'57, reveals in her 1995 book Mystery Reader's Walking Guide: Chicago, which weaves readers in and out of the campus and the Hyde Park neighborhood to retrace the paths of fictional sleuths.

If you want to brush up on the fictional happenings at the University, consult this article and read the reflections of twenty-one novelists and poets with connections to the University in An Unsentimental Education: Writers and Chicago, by Molly McQuade, AB'81 For those simply hoping to tour the locations that inspired these authors, a literary map of campus can be found here.

National Prize for Historic Music Awarded to Alumni-Led Ensemble

Schola Antiqua of Chicago, a professional vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of music composed before the year 1600, was recently awarded the 2012 Noah Greenberg Award by the American Musicological Society. The Artistic Director of Schola Antiqua, Michael Alan Anderson, earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in the History and Theory of Music in 2008. About the winning project, "Sounding the Neumatized Sequence," he says, “The year 2012 marks the 1100th anniversary of the death of the most important sequence composer, Notker Balbulus of St. Gall, and scholars of the sequence have turned renewed attention to the curious, widespread musical practice of ‘neumatization’ in particular. Early music ensembles however have scarcely kept pace with these latest developments in medieval music scholarship.”

The Noah Greenberg award aims to "stimulate active cooperation between scholars and performers by recognizing and fostering outstanding contributions to historical performing practices." Schola Antiqua served as an Artist in Residence in the Department of Music in 2006-2007, making this the second consecutive year that an artist connected to the University has won this prestigious award. Last year's winner was the New Budapest Orpheum Society, an Ensemble in Residence in the Division of the Humanities, for their project “Representing the Holocaust, Resounding Terezín.”

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