The Gertrude Kasle Gallery opened in Detroit in 1965, and operated for 11 years out of the Fisher Building. During that time, the eponymous founder made a name for herself as a channel for some of the leading contemporary artists of the day to make their way into and out of Detroit.
While artists deal in ideas and aesthetics, gallerists and curators are the people tasked with providing context, deep observation, and visual synthesis, and their success is ultimately seated in their sense of taste. Currently on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Exercising the Eye: The Gertrude Kasle Collection reveals the strength of its donor’s vision. A collection often expresses more about the collector than about any individual artist within it, and Kasle’s collection is subtle, harmonious, complex, and celebratory. Kasle chose to surround herself with works that are deft, feminine, and at times, slyly domestic. While many of the artists she collected (and showed at her gallery) are recognized as part of the canon today, at the time, she showed tremendous vision in presenting work that broke with traditional ideas about art and its makers.