BELTON — University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the UMHB Department of Art present Cross/Purpose, an exhibition from the collection of Edward and Diane Knippers, sponsored by Christians in the Visual Arts.
The exhibit opened Wednesday and continues through Feb. 10 in the Art Gallery at the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts on the UMHB campus.
The cross is the central symbol of Christian faith. Cross/Purpose is a sampling of some of the many forms the cross has taken over the centuries and the purposes for which it has been used.
The time frame for Cross/Purpose, begins with a sixth-century coin from Constantinople, jumps to a small 15th-century woodcut by an anonymous artist, winds through several works from the Catholic Reformation, runs head-long into the wars and outsider art of the 20th century, and ends with some remarkable contemporary pieces by living artists.
Along the way visitors will encounter figurative, abstract, expressionist, realist, and conceptual art by such masters as Jacques Callot, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Bernard Buffet, Alfred Manessier, Jacques Villon and Otto Dix.
It is a show rich in variety and meaning. The small realist etching Man With a Crucifix by Robert Sargent Austin (1895-1973) holds its own against the huge color etching Man in the Shape of a T by the contemporary Spanish artist Julio Vaquero.
Vaquero’s figuration contrasts brilliantly with the Picassoesque intaglio with color, Crucifixion by French sculpture Louis Cane.
The Crucifixion by the young self-taught Michael Banks owes much to the sophisticated fantasy Christ in the Clock by Marc Chagall, yet it remains fresh and new.
The eloquent black Christ of Clementine Hunter works symbiotically with Jacques Villon’s cubist rendition of the Savior as her yellow background echoes the gold leaf ground of his lithograph.
The extreme agony of war’s cruelty is called forth by such works as Luc-Albert Moreau’s The Christ of the Camps (1944) and Benitz’s crucifixion of a peasant.
The varied uses of the cross are seen in four freestanding examples in the exhibition.
There is an American painted chalk carnival prize from the 1950s, an instructive devotional cross from Guatemala, a 19th-century French grave marker, and a processional cross from Ethiopia.
Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts is on the corner of Ninth and Shine streets in Belton.
Admission is free.