Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2007


Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 4, Fall 2007, pp. 301-02.


Copyright 2005 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The sculpture collection that is the subject of this book is worthy of priority consideration. This is a truly remarkable holding of major artists of the twentieth century. Although certain sculptors are missing from its stellar list, the overall quality of the works makes the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska a major center for the study of modern sculpture in the Great Plains. The visitor will find representative examples of Alexander Calder's sculptural innovations, a remarkable painted steel giant by Mark di Suvero, and a powerful outdoor sculpture in cor ten steel by Richard Serra. The directors and curators responsible for forming this rich collection located sculpture from various periods in the twentieth century, including dada, early American modernism, direct carvings, and constructivism. Examples range from expressionistic figure studies to postwar abstract works.

During her directorship, Janice Dreisbach has continued the perspicacious collecting policies of her two predecessors, Norman A. Geske, director for thirty years beginning in 1953, and George Neubert, whose stewardship of the gallery began in 1983 and continued until 2000. Under the able leadership of these art historians, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery has formed a substantial collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century works.

That said, the publication devoted to these works is somewhat problematic. Despite the inc'lusion of stunning color plates throughout, the catalogue does not approach the standards one would expect from a university art museum. After the congratulatory forewords, a perfunctory sweep through the history of modern sculpture by David Cateforis is followed by ninety individual entries by university faculty and a curator and staff from the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. The texts are uneven, with some entries including biographical details while others describe the specific example and quote statements by the artist.