March 27, 2014: The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
brings a taste of its stellar collection of Italian sculpture
and decorative arts to the Italian American Cultural Society
in Clinton Township in a talk on April 10 at 7 p.m. Alan
Phipps Darr, DIA senior curator of European art and curator
of European sculpture and decorative arts, will illustrate the
fascinating story of how the DIA’s collection of Italian
sculpture and decorative arts, one of the top three outside of
Europe, came together.
The event is free, but registration is required, and seats are
expected to fill quickly. To register, call 313-833-7971.
Darr will share the story of how the Italian collection was
built during the tenures of some of the DIA’s great directors,
primarily German art historian, curator and scholar William
Valentiner, director from 1924 to 1945. Darr will also talk
about the importance of major DIA patrons and curators in
amassing such an impressive collection throughout the years..
“While hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy art at the DIA
every year, most are not aware of how our collections came
together,” said Darr. “I’m delighted to be able to share how the
Italian sculpture and decorative arts collection was formed over
the past century by relating the stories of the people, market
factors, key exhibitions and other events that contributed to
making this collection among the top in the country.”
The DIA’s collection of Italian sculpture contains outstanding
works from the first to the early 20th century, displayed with
related works in period–style galleries. Artists represented
read like a “who’s who” of Italian master sculptors, among them
Nino Pisano, whose marble sculpture Virgin and Child is
one of his masterworks; Luca della Robia, whose Genoa
Madonna, an elegant enamel and gilded terracotta sculpture,
is considered the best of its type; and Giovanni Lorenzo
Bernini, whose rare terracotta and stucco Model for Chair of
Saint Peter is the only surviving sculptural model for the
focal point of the apse of Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome.
Darr has been with the DIA since 1978 and has organized major
international exhibitions and co-authored catalogues for
Italian Renaissance Sculpture in the Time of Donatello and
The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance
Florence, among many others. Darr co-authored the DIA’s
The Dodge Collection of Eighteenth-Century French and English
Art in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the two-volume
Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Detroit Institute of Arts
and Italian Renaissance and Later Ceramics at the DIA.
In 2007 Darr received the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella
della Solidarietà Italiana (Knight of the Order of the Star of
Italian Fellowship), awarded by the Italian government for 25
years of his valued contributions to Italian art and culture.