WRITER: NICK DELO
CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 26, 1999
An exhibition of work by Theophile Bra will be on view at UI Museum of
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "The Drawing Speaks: Works by Theophile Bra," an exhibition
of works by the 19th-century French artist, will be on view at the University
of Iowa Museum of Art Saturday, April 3 through Sunday, May 30 in the Carver
Art historian Jacques de Caso will give a lecture on the exhibition at 7:30
p.m. Tuesday, April 13 in the museum. This event is free and open to the public.
A sculptor most renowned for his portraits and civic and religious monuments,
Bra also made drawings to express his dreams and evoke a Christian mysticism.
A contemporary of William Blake, Bra conceived of these drawings as prophetic
works. Many of them are images merged with sacred texts and notes concerning
Bra's philosophical and mystical beliefs.
Bra's drawings have been preserved in the Municipal Library of Douai, France,
since 1851, but have never been revealed to the public. This exhibition marks
the first time they have ever been on view.
Bra was born in Douai in 1797. As a young man he worked as a sculptor's apprentice
in the studios of his father and grandfather, and later studied art at the
Ecole des Beaux Arts and anatomy at La Saltpetriere hospitals. Bra won the
Second Prize of Rome in sculpture in 1818, but in 1826, a year after receiving
the Legion of Honor award, he experienced a severe psychological collapse
and a series of personal tragedies that would profoundly affect the rest of
Using his drawings to explore these personal crises, Bra created a body of
work possessing a sense of immediacy, gesture and experimentation closer in
spirit to the work of 20th-century artists like Jackson Pollock and Max Ernst
than to that of his contemporaries.
De Caso said, "Bra returned to a state of uncurbed expression, a state inherent
to drawing when line seeks to evoke an idea rather than an illusionistic recreation
of the world. These drawings are unprecedented in the 19th century. 'Abstract'
compositions unrelated to his sculpted oeuvre, they designate Bra as one of
the most original minds of the Romantic era."
This exhibition was organized by the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas.
The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission
is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from
the museum on Riverside Drive and just north of the museum.
For information on the UI Museum of Art, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~artmus
on the World Wide Web. Information is available on other UI arts events at