Four Tales from the Arabian Nights, No. 9: Abdullah
the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman
Ingres Self Portrait
Suzanne and Philippe on the Train, Long Island, 1985
Boot on Hand
Pierre Auguste Renoir
Two Girls with Hat
Snow at Saishoin Temple
"Head," from Visages
Oberlin's Art Rental program is as popular now as it was 64 years
ago, when it was founded by the late art-world luminary Ellen Johnson,
Oberlin professor of art history.
Wednesday, February 18
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Student Art Rental
Thursday, February 19
9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday, February 20
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Every semester, like clockwork, students gather in the Allen Memorial
Art Museum to preview then rent the more than 400 worksby artists
such as Monet, Picasso, Andy Warhol and Nan Goldinin the rental
"As a teenager I had hoped to become an evangelist, and I have
certainly spread the gospel of art all my working life," Ellen
Johnson said in her art memoirs, Fragments Recalled at Eighty.
"If students could have works of art in their dormitory rooms,"
she wrote, "it would not only develop their aesthetic sensibilities
but might encourage ordered thinking and discrimination even in other
areas of their lives."
Andy Campbell, a senior from Austin, Texas, and a repeat renter, heartily
"I first heard of the art rental when I was a prospective student,
and it was one of the deciding factors that led me to enroll,"
says Campbell, who is majoring in art history, gender and women studies,
"The students are entrusted with the art for so little, and virtually
no works have been damaged. I think that's absolutely incredible.
"A lot of people go immediately for the Andy Warhol or Picasso
but I like to rent works by less well-known artists," he says.
"It's more the actual image than the name that really speaks
"The first piece I rented was a framed Japanese fan by the Japanese
American artist Yasumasa Morimura. It was a kind of Cindy Sherman-like
photograph of the artist dressed as Marilyn Monroe transposed onto
a paper fan. What intrigued me initially was the work's juxtaposition
of Western pop culture and an Eastern traditional medium."
Two of the works by bigger names rented by Campbell were an engraving
of Oscar Wilde's writings by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and a photograph
by Nan Goldin titled Suzanne and Phillipe on the Train, Long Island,
"I love the Goldin photograph because of the saturated green
color and the positions of the two people: Suzanne is cradling Phillipe's
head and staring straight into the camera.
"Gallery dealers and collectors will tell you that above and
beyond value, reputation, etc., it has to be the art itself that you
really connect with," Campbell says. "It's one thing to
go into a museum, view the art, and then leave. It's a completely
different thing to live with works on the cutting edge.
Most of the works Campbell has rented also have been jumping-off points
for learning more about the artists and their milieu and sharing what
he's learned with other students, as Johnson intended. "Friends
come in and say, 'That's really cool,' and I say, 'oh yeah, let me
tell you a little about it.'
"Johnson believed art would encourage students and inspire them
to learn more," he adds. "I think in many ways she achieved
This semester, Johnson's evangelizing will continue with the preview,
Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; the student art rental, Thursday
frin 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and open rental for students, members of
the faculty, administration, and community, Friday from 10 a.m. to