The Smart Museum revives, and updates, a generous tradition.
In recent years, the best on-campus use of a dollar has been on Shake Day. Just a few decades ago, that same dollar could adorn a dorm room with a Klee or Matisse.
Through the Art to Live With program, students could rent a piece of fine art for $1 per academic quarter. The available paintings, drawings, and other works were displayed at the beginning of each quarter in Ida Noyes Hall. Students entered drawings and sometimes queued overnight to secure their favorite pieces, and then chosen works were hung in dorms or apartments.
The art was on loan from University trustee Joseph Randall Shapiro, EX’34, famed art collector and founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Shapiro’s original assemblage stood at 50 pieces but soon ballooned to hundreds.
The $1 fee charged to students went toward insurance (other costs were underwritten by the University). However, the works rarely needed repairs beyond the occasional glass replacement or frame refinishing, according to a 1967 Associated Press report about the program. University of Chicago students looked at the works “as something to be revered,” Shapiro told the AP, and treated them accordingly.
The Art to Live With collection is currently managed by the Smart Museum of Art, and while no pieces have been loaned to students for years, some works from the collection are now installed in public places around campus.
For alumni either nostalgic for the Art to Live With program or sad they missed out, the Magazine partnered with the Smart Museum, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, to curate a selection of fine art to grace your smartphone. Download a wallpaper image to your mobile device and continue the spirit of a truly uncommon University program with every text.
Browse the available Art to Text With images. Choose the download option that best fits your smartphone’s size and resolution requirements. Scale, rotate, and crop as you see fit.
Helen Saunders, Canon, c. 1915, Graphite and gouache on wove paper. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions and with a donation from Lorna Ferguson and Terry Clark in honor of Richard Born, 2009.33. © Estate of Helen Saunders.
After Ugo da Carpi (after Raphael), Sibyl Reading, Lighted by a Child with a Torch, after 1516, Chiaroscuro woodcut. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, University Transfer from Max Epstein Archive, acquired, 1950, 1967.116.106.
Dan Peterman, MFA’86, Excerpts from the Universal Lab (travel pod #2), 2005, Mixed media encased in Plexiglas sphere and wheeled metal supports. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2005.83a. Courtesy the artist.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Dodo in the Studio, 1910, Pastel on paper. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Paul and Susan Freehling in memory of Mrs. Edna Freehling, 2002.70.
John Frederick Peto, Nine Books, n.d., Oil on paper mounted on wood panel. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, The Mary and Earle Ludgin Collection, 1981.95.
Pierre Henri de Valenciennes, Cloud Study, c. 1817, Oil on paper, mounted on paperboard. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Cochrane-Woods Collection, 1982.19.
Frank Lloyd Wright, Window, c. 1909, Designed for Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Original wood casing with clear colored leaded glass and original metal hardware. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, University Transfer, 1967.89.
Childe Hassam, On the Lake Front Promenade, Columbian World Exposition, 1893, Oil on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, The Harold H. Swift Bequest, 1962, 1976.146.
Torii Kiyonaga, Women Resting Above the Kamo River, c. 1784, Color woodblock print (oban). Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Warren G. Moon, Madison, Wisconsin in honor of Professor Harrie A. Vanderstappen, 1984.8.