By Sarah Stortz
Edging art history between the 19th and 20th century, artist Ferdinand Bac’s avant-garde style has made its way to the University of Iowa Museum of Art through a loan from Sylviane Jullian.
Looking Bac: Ferdinand Bac 1859-1952 officially opened on Feb. 17, displaying a vast collection of Bac’s work in combination with pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. The gallery has three distinct sections, comprising biography and nostalgia, women, and World War II, fully examining Bac’s artistic career.
The collection was curated by Assistant Curator of Special Projects Kimberly Datchuk, who organized the ideas behind it, did the research on Bac, and came up with the angle with his role in nostalgia.
Datchuk said the installation took about a week to put together, although planning for the exhibition has been going on for about a year and a half.
“It was up to me to figure out how we would use it and share it with the public,” she said. “It seemed to make the most sense based on his life and the work that he made to think about it in terms of nostalgia, because he was related to Napoleon, but he was the illegitimate great nephew, so he was kind of an outsider.”
Datchuk said Bac’s work remains relevant today, in light of recent tragedies.
“I think Bac was making artwork at a time when the world seemed unstable and that it couldn’t continue to go on,” she said. “I think a lot of people have those feelings right now, given the current events, most recently the mass shooting in the school. There’s a sense that the world has fundamentally changed in the last 10 years, and so thinking about how you move forward when you’re tied to the past is an important thing to continue to think about.”