DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- A private collection of religious prints by artists including Marc Chagall and Edouard Manet is making its only U.S. appearance in an unlikely place -- libraries and a classroom building at the University of Dayton.
''The University of Dayton is not what I would call a haven of art and artistic culture in the past,'' says the Rev. Johann Roten, director of the school's Marian Library-International Marian Research Institute.
The private, Roman Catholic school is known more for its engineering and education programs.
''What we're doing here is to show people first-rate art in facilities not originally dedicated or oriented to something like this,'' Roten says. ''It's an opportunity for us to say, 'See, we can do it.'''
The 75 pieces of Expressionist art are from the private collection of Ulrich Scheufelen, owner of the Scheufelen Paper Co. of Lenningen, Germany. The collection has been exhibited in Europe, but has never before been to the United States.
Scheufelen agreed to lend the exhibit to the school at the request of a university supporter who befriended him when he spent a year at the Dayton-based Mead Corp. preparing for a career in his family business.
Scheufelen plans to donate the collection to the city of Wittenberg, Germany, after its run ends in Dayton on April 30.
Roten said showing the collection in Dayton is designed to expose it to more people in the Midwest and to bring attention to the Marian institute, which studies the relationships between religion and culture.
Nineteen European Expressionists created the art in the exhibit, which features themes from the Old and New Testaments. The collection includes prints in woodcut, lithography, India ink, charcoal, etching and chalk.
Roten said many of the artworks are also historical documents because they depict Germany during World Wars I and II and how the artists saw Christ during wartime.
''It is the face of Christ that the exhibit highlights mostly,'' Roten said. ''But it is not the glorious Christ. It is the suffering Christ. He became a metaphor through which people tried to deal with their own difficulties and problems.''
Expressionism is the movement of art that emphasizes the expression of inner experience and an artist's emotions rather than only realistic portrayal of an object.
Dominique Vasseur, curator at the Springfield Museum of Art, said Expressionism is probably the most important contribution by German artists to modern art.
''Eventually, denounced by the Nazi regime as degrading, Expressionism is actually very engaging,'' Vasseur says. ''It's not only powerful visually, with its high contrast between darks and lights, but it's spiritually and psychologically powerful as well. It gets right to emotional issues. It's certainly not pretty, which is what people had come to expect, especially from religious art.''
The exhibit, called ''From Barlach to Baselitz: Religious Print Art of the 29th Century,'' is on display in the Roesch and Marian library and Joseph E. Keller Hall.
On the Net:
University of Dayton Roesch Library: http://www.udayton.edu/(tilde)library/
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