Georgia Museum of Art opens Deaccessioning Bernard Smol

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia presents Deaccessioning Bernard Smol an exhibition on view May 25 to July 7. The exhibition features five paintings by the French artist Bernard Smol (1897–1969) that are currently in the museum’s collection.

Due to limited storage space and evolving collecting philosophy, the museum staff has decided to “deaccession,” or remove from its collection, all but one of Smol’s works. Visitors will be able to vote on which one they would like the museum to keep, and curatorial staff will take those votes into consideration.

All five works are encaustic paintings on canvas of comparable dimensions, styles and significance. Encaustic is a technique of painting with hot beeswax mixed with pigments that creates a translucent but textured surface. The jewel-like quality of Smol’s paintings often drew comparisons to stained-glass windows by critics of his day. His typical subject matter included romantic landscapes and interiors populated with harlequins, dancers, bohemian poets and mystical figures that give the viewer a sense of experiencing a dream. The works have not been shown at GMOA since their initial exhibition in 1959, around the time the museum’s founder and first director, Alfred Heber Holbrook, decided to purchase them. Several of them were loaned to Middle Georgia College shortly thereafter, for a traveling exhibition, but they have been rarely viewed.