Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., then president of the College, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery in 1983.
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery was established in 1983 to present exhibits of art that enhance the cultural, academic and spiritual life of Holy Cross students, faculty and staff. Upon its opening, Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., president emeritus of Holy Cross, said that “an undergraduate liberal arts college is academically strengthened when its students and staff are exposed to works of art ... the presence of the gallery on campus affords the entire Holy Cross community an opportunity to experience that artistic beauty which so readily helps us attain the openness and tolerance necessary if we are to understand who we are and how we relate to one another.”
Points of Interest…
- Holy Cross’ Cantor Art Gallery has the distinction of being the first space endowed by the Cantors, who subsequently established the Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford University, as well as named galleries and the rooftop garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among others.
- The inaugural exhibition of the Cantor Art Gallery, Auguste Rodin, 1840 – 1917, opened in October 1983 and consisted of 31 of the artist’s bronze sculptures. Five of the exhibited sculptures were presented to Holy Cross as gifts from the Cantor Foundation, and are now part of the permanent collection.
- The warm friendship with the Cantors and the Cantor Foundation that helped establish the Cantor Art Gallery continues to flourish today. A $1million dollar challenge grant to strengthen the gallery’s endowment was reached and awarded in 2008; annual funding support for special projects continues; and loan exhibitions of Rodin sculptures from the Cantor Collections have taken place in 2003 with Rodin’s Obsession: The Gates of Hell, and most recently in 2019 with Rodin: Truth, Form, Life.
- The Gallery presents five to six original and loan exhibitions every year.
- The climate and temperature-controlled gallery contains 1,800 square feet of exhibit space, and blends an elegant mixture of 19th-century architectural detail with the clean lines of museum walls, casework and lighting.
- Since then, the Cantor Art Gallery has mounted over 100 exhibitions including, Flying Tigers: Paintings and Sculpture in New York 1939-1946 (1985); We’ll Never Turn Back: An Exhibition of Civil Rights Movement Photography (1986); Affirmative Re-Actions: Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson & Carrie Mae Weems (1991); Sacred Spaces: Building and Remembering Sites of Worship in the Nineteenth Century (2002); Lewis DeSoto, Recollection (Toward Oblivion) (2002); Big Idea: The Maquettes of Robert Arneson (2003); Keris/Cloth: Sacred Metal and Textile Arts of Indonesia (2003); Terri Priest, Interactions: Paintings and Works on Paper (2005); Gold Cloths of Sumatra: Indonesia's Songkets from Ceremony to Commodity (2007); Zoologia Fantastica (2008); Changing Identity: Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam (2008); Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity and Islam (2010); Create (2012); and The Italian Presepe: Cultural Landscapes of the Soul (2014); Katrina Then and Now Artists as Witness (2015); Woven Power: Ritual Textiles of Sarawak and West Kalimantan (2016); Robert Beauchamp: Four Decades of Works on Paper (2018); The Newar Craftsmen of Kathmandu Valley: Objects of Devotion from Nepal (2018).
- Distinguished Holy Cross faculty members often serve as guest curators for exhibitions, while also contributing their expertise through essays, gallery lectures and didactic explanatory materials. Some of the faculty-curated projects have included: Keris/Cloth: Sacred Metal and Textile Arts of Indonesia (2003) and Gold Cloths of Sumatra: Indonesia's Songkets from Ceremony to Commodity (2007), by Susan Rodgers, department of sociology and anthropology; Envisioning Jacob’s Ladder: Religion, Representation, and Allusion in American Visual Culture, 1750 – 2000 (2004), by David Hummon, department of sociology and anthropology; Catholic Collecting, Catholic Reflection 1538 – 1850 (2006) and Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, (2010) by Virginia Chieffo Raguin, department of visual arts, art history; The Spiritual Landscapes of Adrienne Farb (2006) by Joanna E. Ziegler, department of visual art, art history; and Zoologia Fantastica (2008) by Cristi Rinklin, department of visual art, studio art.
- The Cantor Art Gallery works in conjunction with the College’s visual arts department each year to mount an exhibition of the senior seminar thesis portfolios by students graduating as art majors.
- Visual arts faculty exhibitions are presented every three years.
- Through the generosity of alumni, artists, and friends of the College, the Cantor Art Gallery has more than 1,000 objects in its permanent collection.
- The permanent collection represents a broad spectrum of art and historical periods including a teaching collection comprised of historical Southeast Asian textiles from West Sumatra, and other islands of Indonesia, India and Laos. Additional notable works in the permanent collection include sculpture by Auguste Rodin, Enzo Plazzotta, Chaim Gross, Peter Grippe, Georg Kolbe, Robert Beauchamp and Robert Wlerick; photographs by Marilyn Bridges, Paul Caponigro, William Garnett, Eliot Porter and Dorothy Norman; and paintings, prints and drawings by Michael Beatty, Robert Beauchamp, François Bonvin, Robert Goodnough, Roy Lichtenstein, Terri Priest, Dorothea Rockburne, James Stroud and John Wilson.
- The Cantor Foundation Resource Gallery, located in O’Kane Hall, is adjacent to the main Gallery space and presents a rotating selection of permanent collection materials, as well as exhibits of community interest.
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation was established in 1976 to promote and encourage the recognition and appreciation of excellence in the arts; to enhance cultural life internationally through support of art exhibitions, scholarship, and the endowment of galleries at major museums around the world; and to support biomedical research. Iris and B. Gerald Cantor's dedication to arts patronage is represented in galleries, sculpture gardens, endowed curatorial positions, and scholarship programs at such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Stanford University Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum, New York as well as the gallery at the College of the Holy Cross.