January 15, 2019 (Knoxville, TN) –  The Knoxville Museum of Art presents Lure of the Object: Art from the June and Rob Heller Collection February 8-April 21, 2019.  This exhibition celebrates the uncommon aesthetic vision and philanthropic impulse of June and Rob Heller, who are among Knoxville’s most active, adventurous, and generous art collectors.

The selection of more than 50 sculptures and paintings attests to the couple’s journey as collectors over four decades. Lure of the Object pays tribute to the Heller’s accomplishments as collectors, their significant role as KMA patrons, and the many key sculptures and paintings they have donated to the museum. Some of the featured objects have been gifted to the KMA, while others are promised gifts. International contemporary glass is a particular area of focus, and the exhibition features works by William Morris, Richard Jolley, Bertil Vallien, Oben Abright, Dante Marioni, Therman Statom, and Stephen Rolfe Powell. Complementing sculptural works are paintings by Jim Dine, Frank Stella, Christo, and Paul Jenkins.

Before settling in Knoxville, the Hellers moved frequently as dictated by career assignments in London, Geneva, Singapore, and other major cities around the world.  In each location, they made a practice of exploring galleries, art fairs, museums, and auctions with a sense of openness and adventure.  Increasingly, they discovered works of art they could not live without.  They were not bound by any set medium, period, or theme, but rather acquired works that provoked a strong emotional response.  As their collection grew, so did the challenge of transporting objects—many of them quite large—from home to home.  Soon after moving to Knoxville, they became involved in the city’s art scene.  They patronized area artists, and became staunch supporters of the Knoxville Museum of Art. In particular, they became outspoken advocates for the KMA’s efforts to build a collection of contemporary sculpture which glass is a primary material.  They supported the museum by donating funds as well as works from their extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. 

Lure of the Object is organized by the KMA with assistance from consulting curator Mary Morris.

Presenting sponsor for the exhibition is The Guild of the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Editor’s Note: Image attached. Caption is as follows:

Frank Stella (Malden, Massachusetts, 1936; lives and works in New York), Shards II, 1982. Acrylic and oil stick on etched, cut and assembled aluminum, 40x45x6 inches, Knoxville Museum of Art, gift of June and Rob Heller, 2014. © 2019 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Knoxville Museum of Art

The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee, presents new art and new ideas, serves and educates diverse audiences, and enhances Knoxville’s quality of life. The museum is located in downtown Knoxville at 1050 World’s Fair Park and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10am–5pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm. Admission and parking are free. For more information, contact Angela Thomas at 865.934.2034 or visit www.knoxart.org.