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Haeberli bequest to the Chazen

Works by Andy Warhol, Louise Nevelson, and Yoruba craftsmen are among the objects that the estate of Professor Emeritus Willy Haeberli bequeathed to the Chazen Museum of Art earlier this year. The new acquisitions are now on view in the Chazen’s Pleasant T. Rowland Gallery.

Haeberli, a distinguished nuclear physicist who taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1956 until 2006, died in 2021. He gave the collection of works in memory of his second wife, Gabriele S. Haberland, who died in 2017. Haberland collected African artworks, owned a contemporary art gallery in Switzerland, and served on the Chazen Council.

Haeberli was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He won the American Physical Society’s Bonner Prize in nuclear physics in 1979. He taught a very popular course, “Physics in the Arts,” with Professor Ugo Camerini and later Professor Pupa Gilbert.

The twentieth-century African objects include masks by the Gueré, Kuba, Bobo, Dan, and Yaka peoples, along with a Baulé spirit spouse, a Yorùbá staff, and an Asante chief’s bracelet.

Among the new works are:

  • Warhol’s Hammer & Sickle (Special Edition) (1977), a five-print series inspired by the variability and repetition of the Communist symbol the artist encountered on a trip to Italy.
  • Nightscape XII (1974) by Louise Nevelson, which joins several other Nevelson works from the late 1950s and 1960s in the Chazen’s collection. Whereas Nevelson’s earlier wooden constructions of found objects explored depth, her Nightscape series delves into surface using curvilinear forms to contrast with a rectangular grid.
  • A Yorùbá staff depicting Sàngó (or Shango), the deity of thunder and lightning known for his wrath as well as his life-affirming qualities. Staffs like these would have been carried by followers of Sàngó during annual festivals and were also used to decorate shrines.
  • Frank Stella’s Montenegro II, (1975). One of his Brazilian series of elaborately constructed metal “paintings,” this structure represented a sharp departure from Stella’s previous minimalist, flat, linear approach to painting.

The works will be on view throughout the fall semester.

Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), Hammer & Sickle (Special Edition), (1977), color screen prints, 30 x 40 in., gift of Willy Haeberli in memory of his wife, Gabriele Haberland, 2022.24.4a-e

Frank Stella (American, b. 1936), Montenegro II, from the Brazilian series, (1975), Mixed media on etched aluminum, 92 x 117 x 11 in., gift of Willy Haeberli in memory of his wife, Gabriele Haberland

Louise Nevelson (American, b. Ukraine, 1899–1988, Nightscape XII, (1974), wood, paint, 102 x 59 1/8 x 11 1/8 in., gift of Willy Haeberli in memory of his wife, Gabriele Haberland, 2022.24.1

Unknown artist (Nigerian, Yorùbá People), Sàngó Staff (osé Sàngó), 20th century, wood, kaolin, pigment, 15 x 4 x 2 in., gift of Willy Haeberli in memory of his wife, Gabriele Haberland, 2022.24.13