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Art: Not Just Pretty Pictures

By Kathy Schwartz · July 26th, 2011 · CityBeat Recommends

Before Facebook, an easy way to learn someone’s tastes was to study their bulletin board or refrigerator door. Vacation snapshots, comic strips, magnets, postcards, ticket stubs and magazine articles would reveal where they had journeyed, physically and intellectually, and where they’d like to go. In that mix you’d likely find something in common to discuss.

The eclectic art collection of the late Carl M. Jacobs III is his bulletin board. With a hint of a self-assured smile in a 1958 portrait by celebrity photographer Carl Van Vechten, Jacobs invites visitors to explore the Cincinnati Art Museum exhibition titled Not Just Pretty Pictures, up through Aug.

28. (Jacobs bequeathed his collection to the museum.) From classic choices such as Eugene Delacroix, Francisco Goya and Pablo Picasso to contemporary photographers Nan Goldin and William Wegman, there is something for everyone.

The show is as much about appreciating the Cincinnati-born collector as appreciating the art. Indeed, Not Just Pretty Pictures has pretty pictures — women, mountains, city scenes. But James Crump, the museum’s chief curator of photogrpahy, points out that Jacobs collected works not just because they were beautiful or trendy. He took risks that were about personal discovery. There are pieces that are surreal, abstract, fun and forward-looking. Jacobs could see beauty in the mundane. Collecting can sound snooty, but there is nothing stuffy about this collection.

Not Just Pretty Pictures is on view at the Cincinnati Art Museum through Aug. 28. Go here to read Kathy Schwartz's full article. 



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