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University of Iowa News Release


May 30, 2008

PHOTO: Antoni Tàpies (Spanish, born 1923): "Congreso de Ortopedia y Traucuatologia," 1989, Lithograph; gift of Helena and Ignacio Ponseti

UI Museum of Art exhibition will feature Ponseti collection

Helena P. and Ignacio V. Ponseti's brilliant careers have centered on literature and medicine, respectively, but the couple has always nurtured a passion for art. Selections from their collection will be showcased during a special exhibition opening Wednesday, June 4, at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA).

"We love to look at art," said Helena Ponseti. "It brings back history we've lived or that we've heard about."

The UIMA exhibition features approximately 35 works and focuses on artists from the couple's native country, Spain, including Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Joan Miró, Antoni Tápies and Ramon Herreros.

Ignacio Ponseti, a world-renowned UI orthopedic surgeon who continues to see patients at age 93, is the inventor of the Ponseti method for treating infants with clubfoot. The method uses hands-on manipulations and casting rather than the often-problematic surgical practices long used by the medical establishment.

Helena Ponseti is an accomplished writer who recently detailed Ignacio's life and accomplishments in her book "Homage to Iowa: the inside story of Ignacio V. Ponseti." She has also published books on Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, author of the classic novel "Don Quixote," and women poets of Argentina.

Throughout their lives the Ponsetis have traveled extensively, assembling a collection of artwork from across Europe, Egypt, Latin America, Mexico and North America.

"We are attracted by the things that are outstanding in every country," Helena said. "It's never the author's name. That's not the first thing. First of all, it's what it means to us, the impact and what it evokes."

The selected works at the UIMA explore a diverse range of topics, from the confrontational to the idyllic, but are unified by the Ponsetis' love of Spanish art and artists, Kathleen Edwards, the museum's chief curator, said.

"The Ponsetis live with great art and have had many rich friendships with artists. It is a rare privilege to have an opportunity to see these 'private' works in a public museum. You get a sense of the wonderful stories surrounding each artist and work: when, how and why a work was acquired," said Edwards.

Some highlights from the exhibition include five Tápies prints and six selections from Francisco Goya's renowned intaglio print series "The Disasters of War."

Considered one of the world's greatest living artists, Tápies has worked in the Abstract Expressionist tradition. His experimental and expressive prints are an important part of his oeuvre.

Goya's "The Disasters of War," a series of 80 prints created between 1810 and 1820, is considered one of the most important artistic examinations of the horrors of war from social, economic and moral perspectives.

"It is wonderful to experience these magnificent works from the Ponseti's collection at the UIMA," said Pam White, UIMA interim director and director of the Pentacrest Museums.

The UI Museum of Art is located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. The museum is currently open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Beginning Tuesday, June 10, the museum will be open longer hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731,; Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell),; Writer: Maggie Anderson.