USAO Art Gallery shows treasures from Nesbitt collection

Albrecht Dürer’s “Allegorical Subject on the Christian Knight” is one of many masterworks on display in an exhibition of the Nesbitt collection through Aug. 5 in the USAO Art Gallery.

USAO Art Gallery shows treasures from Nesbitt collection



Picasso. Whistler. Dürer. Matisse. Toulouse-Lautrec.

These are names of famous artists one might expect to see when visiting the Museum of Modern Art or the Smithsonian but local residents can view their works in person at the USAO Art Gallery through Aug. 5.


This notable collection of art is part of the Nesbitt collection, so named for Charles and Margot Nesbitt, whose family donated the pieces to the USAO gallery.


“The Nesbitt collection is our ‘good china,’” said USAO Gallery Director Layne Thrift. “These works represent some of the most prized pieces in our collection and it’s always a joy to hang them.”


This showing features a strong mix of 20th century artists, juxtaposed against works that date back to the 16th century.


Admirers of modern art will find much to appreciate in the show. The Picasso, a lithograph entitled “Still Life with Guitar” is representative of the Spanish-born artist’s experiments with Cubism. Other works, such as “Flower Patterns” by Henri Matisse and “At the Opera” by French mass-media pioneer Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec show a more casual side of both famous artists.


Other featured modern artists in the show include French painter Bernard Buffett, American artist James Whistler and famed Swiss sculptor and printmaker, Alberto Giacometti.


Contrasted against these modern masters is a collection of antique engravings and drawings. Chief in fame among them is the work of master engraver, Albrecht Dürer. Dürer, a German artist often referred to as the ‘Leonardo of the North,’ worked in a variety of styles and media as well as producing written texts about perspective and mathematics.


Also included in the collection are numerous cartoons, or pencil drawings done in preparation for large paintings, from artists like Charles le Brun and Carlo Maratta. Though the authorship of a few of these older drawings have been lost to history, the craft with which they were prepared is obvious to the modern viewer.


Charles Nesbitt was an Oklahoma lawyer and politician who served as Oklahoma’s attorney general, corporation commissioner and energy secretary in his career as a public servant. Though Nesbitt died in 2007, his wife Margot survives him and serves today as a Reverend Canon for St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City.


The USAO Art Gallery was opened in 1997 by Cecil Lee, Regents’ professor of art and Crosstimbers magazine fine arts editor. Thrift took over as director of the gallery in 2010.


The gallery is located on the first floor of Davis Hall and is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. for the remainder of the summer. The show is free and open to the public.


More information is available at (405) 574-1374.