at The University of Chicago
Visit our new site for all current information.

A Selection of Works by Twentieth Century Artists

June 20 – August 20, 1934


Aims of the Renaissance Society and the Relation of the Society to the University

The Search for Meaning in Art

"An accomplished work of art is as such more complete and precise evidence of its meaning than could be any other expression, even by the author himself at another time or place or in another less creative state of mind."

The mode of thought by which a work of art is created or understood is "an ultimate of abstract rational understanding and expression..... its object is the creation, understanding, and communication of integral closed unities of intelligent experience.

"The ultimate evidence of meaning in letters and the arts is the complete literary or artistic utterance itself.

"The legitimate meaning of a work of letters and of art is only that and all that which can be fairly won through an intimate and discriminating study of its utterance."

In developing a program for the pleasure and profit of members of the society (in the city and its suburbs), and in particular for the University community, including students, who come from all parts of the United States- the Society believes that it can be of most value to the University, especially to its department of art, as an independent, experimental laboratory for search of legitimate meaning in art.

The conviction that this search must be a direct one, as is expressed in the statements quoted above (ideas which have been taught on the campus for many years) has led to the arrangement of a series of related exhibitions, not large, but selected from the best examples obtainable from museums, private collections, and art dealers, who have most generously assisted in the realization of such a plan.

We believe that this plan followed consistently (and uncompromisingly, as to the quality of exhibits) has proved for us that the method of making contacts and establishing relations directly with the original works of art is the only sound one.

Exhibitions have been supplemented by lectures, "case exhibits" of related material in photographs and reproductions; by exhibits of standard and "modern" illustrated books and monographs- even the films have contributed their part: "La Ballet Mechanique," by Leger, shown by The Renaissance Society, and a series of modern foreign motion pictures given by the Renaissance Society and International House.

The Publication, through the University Press, of a series of brief studies on "meaning in art" has been undertaken in response to expressed wishes that some of the lectures should be available for reading, and it has been arranged that the first and perhaps the second volume should come off the press at the time of the present exhibition- the third to follow later, with and exhibition of appropriate material, in the late Autumn.

One of the objects of the Society is to collect original works of art for the use of the department of art. Initiated by Mr. Robert Allerton a fine collection of prints is being made.

This text was originally published in the exhibition catalog.

Author: Eva Watson Schutz
The Renaissance Society
is a contemporary art
museum free and
open to the public
Wed  Sep 30, 2020