At the Heart of Progress: Coal, Iron, and Steam since 1750
When: January 22 - March 21, 2010
About the Show
At the Heart of Progress examines the legacy of coal, iron, and steam through prints and posters drawn from one of the most extensive private art collections associated with industry and labor. Organized by the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the exhibition surveys the Faustian bargain between humanity and carbon. Though coal, iron, and steam support industrial civilization, their enormous benefits are counterbalanced by equally enormous tolls.The exhibition of seventy prints, five books, and one children’s toy focuses on several themes, including mining, iron and steel making, smokestack landscapes, and images of laborers. Its wide artistic range includes eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English and French landscapes, and post-impressionist images from the golden age of French printmaking in the 1890s.
Dr. John P. Eckblad, who acquired these works over the past thirty-five years, lives both in Paris and Chapel Hill, and spent much of his childhood in the coal mining hills of western Pennsylvania. For decades he worked as a management consultant to petrochemical complexes in northeastern England and northern Europe, surrounded by landscapes marked by cooling towers, machine works, and nuclear power plants. The exhibition is generously supported at Vassar by the Friends of the Frances Lehman Loeb Exhibition Fund.