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Northwestern Visual Arts in January

Block Museum exhibits rare 16th century prints and Dittmar displays Marci Rubin works

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University reopens Jan. 17 through April 8 for the Winter 2012 exhibition, “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe.” The free exhibition will be on view to the public in two of the museum’s galleries.

Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive, and University Library at 1970 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus.

The Block Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The museum is closed on Monday. The Block will be closed from Dec. 12 through Jan. 16, during winter break. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-4000.

Two of three University Library exhibits are open to the public daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. through March 19 and one until June 15. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-7658.


“Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe,” Jan. 17 through April 8, 2012, Main Gallery and Alsdorf Gallery. Organized by the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass., in collaboration with the Block, this exhibition examines how celebrated Northern Renaissance artists contributed to the scientific inquiries of the 16th century. Rare and treasured prints, drawings, books, maps and scientific instruments demonstrate that artists were not just illustrators in the service of scientists but that their work played an active role in facilitating the understanding of new concepts in astronomy, geography, natural history and anatomy. In-gallery digital displays, video and audio segments, an iPhone/iPad app, and replicas of sundials, globes and other tools that can be manipulated add an interactive component to the exhibition. An illustrated catalogue available for $60 features contributions from Northwestern art history Professor Claudia Swan and graduate student Kathleen Tahk. The exhibition can be explored through an interactive tool and videos or by downloading the iPhone/iPad app linked on the Block Museum website

The exhibition and its catalogue are made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mrs. Arthur K. Solomon, Lionel and Vivian Spiro, Walter and Virgilia Klein, Julian and Hope Edison, Novartis on behalf of Dr. Steven F. Hyman, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Barbara and the late Robert Wheaton, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, and an anonymous donor. Support for the exhibition at the Block Museum is provided by the Myers Foundations; Lyrica Endowment; Netherland-America Foundation; Samuel H. Kress Foundation; Alumnae of Northwestern University; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; IFPDA (International Fine Print Dealers Association) Foundation; Robert Lehman Foundation; Alsdorf Endowment; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; and the Evanston Arts Council.


“Theo Leffmann: Weaving A Life into Art,” from Jan. 17 through April 8, Block Museum, Theo Leffman Gallery. The fiber art of Chicago artist Theo Leffmann (1911-96) evokes the ancient and the exotic, echoing pre-Columbian and non-Western processes and forms with a distinct personal vision. Her 40-year career coincided with a revolution in textile art as the division between “high art” and “craft” diminished. The display of Leffmann’s colorful, richly textured and playful weavings, wall hangings and sculptural objects is drawn from the Block Museum’s permanent collection. The works are generous gifts from her husband Paul Leffmann.


Self-Guided Family Tours, Compass Quest, Jan. 21 to April 8. Families are encouraged to discover navigational tools, maps and prints in “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge” by using Block Museum’s explorers kit, available for free checkout during public hours.

Block Museum docents will lead guided tours of the exhibition “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge” at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, from Jan. 28 to April 8. Tours for classes or groups of eight or more people are also available with advance notice. Contact or visit

Northwestern Student Docent Exhibition Tours, 6 p.m. Thursdays, from Feb. 2 to March 8, and 6 p.m. April 5. How can you tell time in multiple countries using a folded piece of paper? Find out the answer to this and other fascinating questions during informal and interactive 45-minute tours of “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge,” hosted by Northwestern student docents. New topics will be introduced every week.


Knowledge|Replication: Early Modern Sciences in Print conference, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, Block Museum. The Block Museum will host a conference expanding the territory charted in “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge.” Organized by Claudia Swan, associate professor of art history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the program includes presentations by Daniela Bleichmar (University of Southern California), Matthew Hunter (McGill University, Montreal), Eric Jorink (Huygens Institute, the Hague), Elmer Kolfin (University of Amsterdam) and I.B. Leemans (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam). “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge” curator Susan Dackerman (Harvard Art Museums), Lawrence Lipking (Northwestern University) and Adrian Johns (University of Chicago) will participate as panel discussants. The event is supported by the Myers Foundations and Northwestern’s department of art history, Science in Human Culture Program and Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. 

Gallery Talk, “Geometry and the Artist-Scientist,” 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, Northwestern art history graduate students Kathleen Tahk (a contributor to the exhibition catalogue) and Stephanie Glickman will focus on Nuremberg goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer’s quest to establish himself as a scientific thinker. Admission is free and open to the public.


“They Were Fighting for Our Freedom: American and Soviet Propaganda Posters of World War II,” through March 19, University Library. “They Were Fighting for Our Freedom” examines the portrayal of war themes -- courage, strength in numbers, the home front, heroic military traditions, the vile foe -- in the different artistic languages of the United States and the U.S.S.R. The exhibition is a collaboration of University Library and the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography/Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg.

“Dmitri Shostakovich at Northwestern,” through March 19, University Library. In June 1973, Northwestern gave Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich an honorary degree. Organized by the Northwestern Music Library and University Archives, this exhibition recalls Shostakovich’s visit to campus through original documents and materials, including rare Shostakovich scores published in the Soviet Union. 

“Papering Over Tough Times: Soviet Propaganda Posters of the 1930s,” through June 15. Drawn from the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, the exhibition documents attempts by the Soviet government to inspire, placate, inform and frighten its citizens during an era of social engineering.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston

campus is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The gallery will reopen Jan. 4 to Feb. 5, with the Winter 2012 exhibition, “When the Body Speaks,” featuring the works of Chicago artist Marci Rubin. Admission is free. The gallery focuses on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows. For information, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail or visit


Marci Rubin, “When the Body Speaks,” Jan. 4 to Feb. 5, Dittmar Memorial Gallery.

Award-winning Chicago artist Marci Rubin’s latest sculptures, installations and prints reflect the structure and systems of the body’s skin, cells, organs, digestion and reproduction. On Jan. 23, Rubin will discuss her artistic process and materials and content of the 26 works in the show. Rubin’s studio is located in The Bridgeport Art Center where she is active in a local arts community. Her work has been exhibited in Chicago, Highland Park and Bloomington, Ind. The exhibition, an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4, and a 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, Artist Talk, are all free and open to the public. For more on Rubin, visit


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