Athens, Ga. – This February, as the winter starts to seem long and cold, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will transport visitors to the warmth of California with the exhibition “David Ligare: California Classicist” on display Feb. 13-May 8.
Organized by the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, the exhibition includes 76 paintings and drawings, mostly borrowed from the collection of the artist and other private lenders. Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1945, he moved to California and began painting large canvases inspired by Greco-Roman antiquity in the late 1970s. The West Coast landscape and light form the background for images drawn from classical sources, such as his paintings “Hercules Protecting the Balance Between Pleasure and Virtue,” “Orpheus” and “Penelope.”
Many of the paintings are on an extremely large scale; several measure nearly 10 feet wide, dwarfing the viewer and making for an in-person experience very different from looking at reproductions in a book or online.
“This exhibition brings something new to our schedule at the museum, partly because of the scale of the works (we’ve shown mostly smaller paintings lately) and partly because of Ligare’s neoclassical influences,” said Sarah Kate Gillespie, the museum’s curator of American art. “Whether landscape, still-life or character-based in subject, his paintings and drawings are precise, beautiful and timeless. We think students and visitors will be able to draw connections to many eras in art history from contemplating his work.”
Ligare’s work is also inspired by the poetry of Robinson Jeffers, which is the focus of the upcoming Big Read in Athens, organized by UGA’s department of language and literacy education. A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Big Read encourages communities to read the same book and participate in related programs and discussion. The museum will have a small display of Jeffers-related works of art in conjunction with both the Big Read and “David Ligare: California Classicist.”
Related events include
• Public tours led by museum director William U. Eiland, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m., and Gillespie, March 23 at 2 p.m.
• Artful Conversation with the museum’s curator of education, Carissa DiCindio, focusing on a single painting, on March 2 at 2 p.m.
• A talk by Ligare on April 28.
• A gallery talk connecting Jeffers’ poetry and Ligare’s work, with Ligare, Misha Cahnmann-Taylor, Gillespie and others, on April 29 at 2 p.m.
• The museum’s quarterly reception, 90 Carlton: Spring, on April 29 at 5:30 p.m. ($5, free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art).
• Family Day on art and poetry on April 30 from 10 a.m.-noon.
• An informal wine tasting to pair California wines with individual paintings on May 5 (tickets required; pricing to be determined later).
All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.
This exhibition is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
Partial support for the exhibition and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on UGA’s East Campus. The address is 90 Carlton St., Athens, Ga., 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.