Briefly Noted

Award-Winning Abstract Painter Darby Bannard Passes Away

Darby Bannard

Darby Bannard was committed to color-based and expressionist abstraction for over six decades.

A leading figure in the development of color field painting in the late 1950s and an important American abstract painter, Walter Darby Bannard, professor and head of the painting program in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Art and Art History, passed away on October 2. He was 82.

“Darby’s contributions to the art world will be remembered by his peers, collectors, and critics, and most importantly, by the hundreds of students whom he inspired by his work, his teaching, and his mentoring,” said Perri Lee Roberts, art history professor and chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

During his undergraduate years at Princeton University, Bannard joined fellow students, the painter Frank Stella, and the critic and art historian Michael Fried in conversations that expanded aesthetic definitions and led to an emphasis on opticality as the defining feature of pictorial art.

Bannard continued to explore attributes of color, paint, and surface through innovative methods, striving throughout his career for vital and original expressive means. He was also an important writer on formalist issues in art, serving as an editor for Artforum and a contributor to Art International. His extensive publications date from the 1960s to the present. He joined the University of Miami faculty in 1989 to become chair of the art department.

Bannard was born in 1934 in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and in 1956 graduated from Princeton University. Bannard, who made drawings and watercolors throughout his youth, was self-taught as a painter. He derived inspiration for his earliest paintings from the art of William Baziotes, Theodoros Stamos, and Clyfford Still. In a 2015 interview with UM alumnus Franklin Einspruch for Artcritical.com, Bannard states, “That’s how it is with abstract painting, it just takes you over. I remember looking at one of these little intellectual magazines when I was 16 and I saw a de Kooning painting, and thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’” By the late 1950s, he abandoned the sensitivity inherent in the expressionistic style, instead creating austere minimal paintings characterized by large areas of contrasting color.

In the next decade, he was one of the first artists to blend artist’s materials with commercially produced tinted alkyd resin house paints in a search for greater color options. In a 2015 Artforum review of his second solo exhibition at Berry Campbell, Phyllis Tuchman discusses these early paintings: “The bands, circles, and rectangles tend to be shiny and reflect light, while the other parts of these canvases are covered with matte paint. Bannard mixed pinks and beiges as well as light blues and greens with lots of white. These colors are still radiant. And the artist’s pale palette is as uniquely personal today as it was 50 years ago. You can’t even apply a name to his hues.”

In 1964, Bannard was included in the landmark exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction, organized by Clement Greenberg and held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His first solo exhibitions were in 1965, at Kasim Gallery, London; Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago; and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. He was also included that year in the Museum of Modern Art’s “The Responsive Eye.” In 1968, Bannard received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a National Foundation of the Arts Award.

Around 1970, Bannard’s focus shifted to an exploration of the liquid quality of paint. Drawn to the new acrylic media that was becoming available, he began working on the floor using thick gel surfaces and color suspended in magna or polymer. At the time, he “thought of color as a liquid, flowing over and settling on a roughened surface, changing as it mixed and dried.” His method involved stapling his canvases to slightly raised wooden platforms. After tightly sizing his canvases, he scraped on colored gel with squeegee-like tools. When the surface was dry, he poured colored polymer over it in layers, allowing the paint to find its place. He was drawn at the time to close-valued rather than strong colors and often allowed his pale warm grounds to serve as colors in their own right rather than acting as supports for other colors.

Stated Karen Wilkin in Color as Field (2007): “Bannard probed just how subtle chromatic nuances could be before they became unbroken expanse. In these pictures, even composition could be reduced to a kind of near-negative, an echo of something no longer there.” In the late 1970s, Bannard was instrumental in the retrospective exhibition of the work of Hans Hofmann. He curated the 1976-77 exhibition and wrote the catalogue that accompanied it.

During a painting workshop in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1981, Bannard developed a kind of gel “drawing” on canvas, in which he applied his paint on large sheets of fiberglass. By the middle of the decade, he had returned to a slower, more subtle system of marking his gel, while also returning to pouring colored polymer. He also reincorporated expressionist methods in his art. In 1987, he began his “brush and cut” paintings, consisting of large scale canvases in which he applied transparent tinted gel with large street brooms and industrial floor squeegees to make painted “drawings” featuring vigorous brushwork and three-dimensional illusions. After moving to Miami, he incorporated more color into his large paintings, while producing small mixed-media landscapes on paper, inspired by the flat land and water and the lowering sun of the Florida Everglades.

Recently, Bannard increased the intensity and juxtoposition of color. The more neutral backgrounds of the past have shifted to all-over color. The surfaces of the paintings are flat and three-dimensional all at once: hot pink and fluorescent green geometric shapes appear to float above and protrude from the flat canvas. These circles reference earlier days, but added now are hard-edge trapezoids. Flat areas of color are spiked by splatters of sparkly gels and raised areas of large sweeping brush-work creating a dance across the surface.  Methods and techniques from earlier paintings are combined and used in unison in these dynamic compositions.  In 2015 and 2016, Bannard continued to paint with increase vigor creating large-scale paintings up to thirteen feet wide.

Throughout his career, Bannard moved between the poles of expressionism and color field painting, resulting in a body of art that constantly evolved as the artist forthrightly faced the situations that his art presented, reacting to them with rigor and intuition.

In 1983, Bannard held an Invitational Residency at the National Endowment for the Arts.  In addition to his position at the University of Miami, he taught at many art schools, including the School of Visual Art, New York. Over the course of his career, Bannard had almost 100 solo exhibitions and had been included in an even greater number of group shows. In 2016, noted art historian Barbara Rose curated a major exhibition for Roberto Polo Gallery in Brussels, Belgium, entitled, Post-Painterly Abstraction: Belgium-USA, featuring paintings by 16 U.S. and Belgian artists including Bannard, Ed Moses, and Larry Poons.

Bannard is represented in public collections across the country as well as abroad.  A selection of his museum collections include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio; Baltimore Museum, Maryland; Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas, Austin; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Cleveland Museum, Ohio; Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Texas; Dayton Art Institute, Ohio; Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Honolulu Museum, Hawaii; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; Kenyon College Art Gallery, Ohio; Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Newark Museum, New Jersey; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York; the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.


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Toppel Career Center Seeks Nominations for 2017 Toppel Awards

The Toppel Career Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Toppel Awards to honor University of Miami students, student organizations, faculty, staff, alumni, and employers who exemplify a commitment to the professional development of themselves and/or others. The Toppel Career Center encourages faculty and staff to nominate groups and/or individuals who deserve to be recognized with awards such as Student of the Year, Student Group of the Year, Alum of the Year, Employer of the Year, Distinguished Administrator, and Excellence in Career Education. Nominations are due by Monday, November 28. Finalists will be notified by mid-January.

To learn more and to submit a nomination, visit The Toppel Awards or call 305-284-5451.

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UM Among Leaders in Least Student Debt

UM News

financing_umcampus_138-940x529CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 13, 2016)—The University of Miami is emerging as one of the top research universities in the country graduating students with some of the least debt when they collect their diplomas.

In fact, students at UM are graduating with an average debt of $19,000, the fifth lowest among top private research universities, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 “Best Colleges” rankings, released Tuesday.

“The University of Miami is very aware of the high cost of attendance at private institutions and the burdens imposed by high student debt,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc.  “We are working hard to reduce the debt of our neediest students, and will continue to do so as our resources permit.”

Currently, the University is working toward a goal of providing financial aid to meet 100 percent of undergraduate student need, an ambition announced by UM President Julio Frenk during his inauguration in January when he stated: “If education is to fulfill its crucial function of expanding opportunities, we must build a bridge between excellence and access.”

In the U.S. News rankings, the University of Miami is ranked 44th in the “Best National Universities” category, jumping up from No. 51 last year. UM is the top-ranked school in Florida.

In addition, UM is ranked as one of the top universities for U.S. veterans. It is now 27th in the nation in the “2017 Best Colleges for Veterans” category, offering benefits and assistance to help veterans and active-duty service members pursue their education.

“The University has had strong ties with military veteran and active-duty service members throughout its history. The commitment to educate and provide services to these men and women, who represent our country, is held in high regard,” said Gail Cole-Avent, executive director for student life and advisor for the Veterans Student Organization, a chapter of Student Veterans of America. “Over the past five years, I’ve served in an integral role in supporting the academic and leadership endeavors of these students, as well as working with university colleagues to ensure that policies and operations meet the evolving needs. Most importantly, the greatest joy has been working directly with the students to establish an environment that facilitates the development of community.”

UM is also listed among the top universities in the country, at 24th, for having the largest proportion of undergraduate international students attending the University. U.S. News cites this category as important because, “In a global culture, befriending and learning to collaborate with students from other countries can be rewarding personally and professionally.”

Earlier this year, U.S. News awarded the Miller School of Medicine’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute the No. 1 ranking in its “Best Hospitals 2017 Edition,” the 15th time in 27 years that it has garnered this accolade. Additionally, the Miller School of Medicine ranked among the top 50 in the 2017 edition of “Best Graduate Schools” climbing 12 spots in 10 years.

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Faculty Senate Calls for Awards Nominations

The Faculty Senate is encouraging University faculty to send in their nominations for any or all of the Senate’s annual awards, which each year includes the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award, the Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award.

Nomination materials for each of the awards,which recognize the exceptional efforts of noteworthy members of the University community, are due to the Faculty Senate office by Wednesday, October 12.

Find nomination criteria and more detailed information about each award by clicking on the award titles below.

The James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award recognizes service above and beyond the call of duty by a member of the University community.

The Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching by a faculty member with a substantial record of teaching at the University.

The Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award recognizes either a single outstanding scholarly achievement or a lifetime of distinguished accomplishment in any area of research or creative activity.

Awardees, who are selected by a highly competitive, peer-review process, will be presented with their awards at the 2017 Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 3, 2017, in the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, starting at 5 p.m.



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Smith College Honors Renaissance Scholar

Special to UM News

MihokoSuzukiCORAL GABLES, Fla. (August, 31, 2016)—During the fall term, University of Miami English Professor Dr. Mihoko Suzuki is calling Massachusetts her temporary home as she assumes her new role as the 2016-2017 Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor in Renaissance Studies at Smith College, a distinguished women’s liberal arts college in Northampton.

“I am honored to have been invited to take part in this prestigious interdisciplinary appointment,” said Suzuki, who also serves as director of the Center for the Humanities at the College of Arts and Sciences. Past Kennedy Professors have included renowned scholars such as Felix Gilbert, a German historian of Renaissance Italy; Jean Seznec, a French art historian and literary scholar; and more recently, Peter Stallybrass, an English Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in the history of the book.

As Kennedy Professor, Suzuki will present a series of three public lectures under the title: “Antigone’s Example: Early Modern Women’s Political Writing in Times of Civic War.” The first lecture, “Christine de Pizan and the Origin of Early Modern Women’s Political Thought,” will take place September 20; the second, “Political Writing High and Low: Women of the French Fronde,” is set for October 25; and the third, “The English Civil Wars: Margaret Cavendish and her Contemporaries,” is scheduled for November 29.

Suzuki will also teach an upper-level seminar, “Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe: The Art of Self-Fashioning,” which will focus on writings by women in Italy, France, England, and Spain that range from political thought to drama, poetry, narrative fiction, and autobiographical prose.

“The seminar’s enrollment is limited to 12, and the students had to be chosen by an application process,” Suzuki explained. “Those who were accepted are from a wide variety of disciplines, from literature to film, anthropology, psychology, and government. The students are engaged in the topic and have already requested the syllabus in advance of the beginning of classes.”

Suzuki earned her A.B. in history and literature from the College Scholar Program at Cornell University and her Ph.D. in comparative literature at Yale University. She is the author of Metamorphoses of Helen: Authority, Difference, and the Epic; and Subordinate Subjects: Gender, the Political Nation, and Literary Form in England, 1588-1688. She has also published numerous articles as well as many edited books on Renaissance and early modern literature and culture, English and European, with an emphasis on gender and authorship. She coedits, with her University of Miami colleagues Anne J. Cruz (MLL) and Mary Lindemann (History), the award-winning Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Her current project, for which she received fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Library and the New York Public Library, is a book on women’s political writing during times of civil war from the late middle ages to the French Revolution.

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