Brenau’s Best: Favorites from the Permanent Art Collection

What began as a single still-life painting in 1986, the Brenau Permanent Art Collection has blossomed into more than 6,500 individual artworks, including paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations. One of the largest privately owned art collections in the Southeast, it is displayed in the university’s four galleries – the Sellars Gallery, the Presidents Gallery, the Leo Castelli Gallery and the Manhattan Gallery – and across all campuses. Notable artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Hunt Slonem are featured in the collection.

With so many unique artworks representing a wide variety of media and styles, how could anyone pick a favorite piece? Who better to ask than the people who know the Brenau Permanent Art Collection the best?

Dr. John S. Burd, Brenau president from 1985-2005, inaugurated and helped grow the Permanent Art Collection, and he designated the first official gallery space. Allison Lauricella became manager of Brenau Galleries in 2012, and Nichole Rawlings became its director two years later in 2014. We asked each of them to share some of their favorite pieces of the Permanent Art Collection.

Allison Lauricella – Assistant Gallery Director

"Berkshire Morning" by Theodoros Stamos, 1951

“I love the bold brushstrokes and limited color palette in ‘Berkshire Morning’ by Theodoros Stamos. I enjoy the heavy, black strokes balanced against a background of transparent grays and raw canvas. I first saw this painting in the exhibition that was on display when I began working in the galleries. It has been close to my heart ever since.”

“Broome Street at Night” by Helen Frankenthaler, 1987

“When I was a student at Brenau, I researched Frankenthaler’s ‘Broome Street at Night’ for a tour of Permanent Collection highlights I was working on. This was my first introduction to the color field painter, and I instantly fell in love with her work.”

Nichole Rawlings – Gallery Director

"Still Life" by William Merritt Chase, 1875

“I was so amazed by the Permanent Collection when I started working here over five years ago, and the story of how and when it all began goes back in some ways to this piece. ‘Still Life’ was the first work donated after the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection was officially begun in the 1980s, and the fact that Chase is a renowned figure in art history served to start the collection off on a truly high note.”

"Leo" by Jasper Johns, 1997

“Jasper Johns and Leo Castelli are both significant figures to the story of the Permanent Art Collection. I love how this work ties those two men together – the piece was created by Jasper Johns as part of a commemorative 90th birthday art portfolio for Leo Castelli. The simplicity of the night sky and figures represented, as well as the connection of the Leo constellation to Leo Castelli, all read beautifully to me.”  

Dr. John S. Burd – Brenau President, 1985-2005

"Untitled (American Center, Paris)" by Jasper Johns, 1994

“Selecting a favorite or favorites from the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection is almost impossible for me. I like so many. In the area of paintings and prints, I would especially call attention to the Jasper Johns print that Jasper made for Brenau University and his family only. His two sisters are graduates of Brenau Women’s College.”

"GW" by Hunt Slonem, 2010

“Jasper Johns and Leo Castelli are both significant figures to the story of the Permanent Art Collection. I love how this work ties those two men together – the piece was created by Jasper Johns as part of a commemorative 90th birthday art portfolio for Leo Castelli. The simplicity of the night sky and figures represented, as well as the connection of the Leo constellation to Leo Castelli, all read beautifully to me.”  

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