In the Spirit of Louise Noun

June 9 – September 2, 2018
Anna K. Meredith Gallery

Many people in Des Moines remember or know about Louise Rosenfield Noun (1908 – 2002), who was a leader in the community as well as a feminist, civic and social activist, philanthropist, art historian, and collector of art. She was a dedicated leader at the Art Center as an active member of the Acquisitions Committee and the Board of Directors. In addition to her invaluable gift of guidance and time, she bequeathed the Art Center her collection of more than 200 works of art by women artists.

Noun did not shrink from taking a stand on what she believed in and her values and beliefs are reflected in the art she collected. She boldly collected the work of early 20th-century women artists who were little known at the time she acquired them, and have since been secured in the history of art. Simultaneously, Noun collected contemporary art in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s including fine examples of Minimalism by Agnes Martin and post-Minimalism by Lee Bontecou and Eva Hesse. She also acquired works by artists such as Barbara Kruger, Kiki Smith, and Nancy Spero, which are unabashedly political, addressing feminism, sexual politics, and social justice.

In the Spirit of Louise Noun does not exclusively feature work from Noun’s collection. Instead, art selected from her collection is juxtaposed with other works of art that amplify the subjects and themes found in the work collected by Noun.

In addition to placing works together to create lively conversations, the juxtapositions will illustrate how Louise Noun’s spirit is alive and well at the Art Center. The innovative approach she took to collecting continues to inspire decisions made about acquisitions, the creation of exhibitions, and all of us who have the pleasure to experience the art in person.

In the Spirit of Louise Noun is organized by Senior Curator Alison Ferris on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Young Women’s Resource Center, for which Noun was the leading founder. The artworks selected for the exhibition are meant to further the conversations young women have at the YWRC about body-image, self-esteem and reproductive health. The works will represent and embody the beauty, resiliency and strength that all women possess. These and other works will also address issues of social justice related to race, religion, gender, equity, and mortality, all issues in which Noun was invested.

This exhibition is generously supported by:
Marty Gross  |  Harriet S. Macomber  |  Wells Fargo Advisors

entirely unexpected