Yale School of Management

Art in New Haven: A Yale SOM Community Guide

Yale has a rich history of supporting artists and artistic spaces, and New Haven is home to an array of museums, galleries, and site-specific art installations for students to explore. We asked a few of our students, faculty, and alumni to share the places, pieces, and people that inspired them when they were on campus.

October 11, 2019
Compiled by Zoe Goetzmann:
Sol Lewitt
Sol Lewitt mural in Edward P. Evans Hall

Anh Vu ’20, Yale Art Club


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
The Yale Architecture School has interesting exhibitions throughout the year, so it’s always a delight to check it out with some of our dual degrees.

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
SOM naturally gets a lot of sunlight given the glass architecture, but the Sol Lewitt mural perfectly adds color to the halls and livens up the building (especially during the wintertime).


The Center's Long Gallery, photo by Caryn Davis
Yale Center for British Art’s Long Gallery.
Photo by Caryn Davis

Amy Whitaker ’01


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
My favorite as a student was to walk into the Yale Center for British Art, look up at the atrium of the Louis Kahn building, and then look at just at a few artworks, whatever caught my eye. This pairs nicely with the Yale University Art Gallery (also a Kahn building) and the counter of Atticus for black bean soup and paninis. 

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
The Sol LeWitt murals at SOM came after my time there, but are a highlight of the current building.


The Women's Table
The Women’s Table by Maya Lin

Kavitha Bindra ’05, Assistant Dean for Alumni Relations


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
My favorite artwork on the Yale campus is Roy Lichtenstein’s Modern Head at the foot of Science Hill, across the street from SOM’s former campus. It can serve as such a striking contrast to the architecture surrounding the piece, particularly on Hillhouse Avenue, yet feels so much a part of the environment at the same time. I love the contemporary and edgy feel of the piece, and it seems particularly well-situated by our laboratory, engineering, and management science facilities.

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
Maya Lin was a huge influence on me when I was a student, and she continues to be one of the most innovative and ground-breaking artists out there. She is quietly transgressive and melds a warmth and humanity with the minimalism of her work. She has so much to say and conveys it all so simply and starkly. The Women’s Table, which celebrates women at Yale, is one such piece. As the Yale Visitor Center notes, “the ambiguity of the sculpture inspires contemplation—and sometimes even interaction.”

Frederic Varini’s mural, Square with Four Circles
Frederic Varini’s mural Square with Four Circles

Michael Nock ’19


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
It’s hard to pick just one, so I won’t! While walking around New Haven there are always a few artworks that stop me in my tracks and force me to look up from my phone. The first is Maya Lin’s fountain The Women’s Table (1989) outside Sterling Memorial Library. The large round table fountain traces the presence—and absence—of women enrolled at Yale through carved numbers that begin with the university’s founding in 1701. The sculpture is particularly poignant now since the university is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its first female graduate from the School of Art in 1869. The second is Felice Varini’s Square with Four Circles (2010). You can find this site-specific work on the edge of the New Haven Green. Standing in just the right spot (beside Zinc Kitchen), Varini’s patches of red paint, which are seemingly strewn across multiple buildings, align to form a beautiful mural. The third is found on Chapel just beside the School of Architecture, where sculptor Robert Engman, a 1955 graduate of the School of Art,  erected Column in 1963. The subtly formed concrete sculpture celebrated the construction of Paul Rudolph’s brutalist masterpiece and includes the names of professors who taught at the School of Architecture.

For a dedicated art experience, you cannot go wrong with the Yale University Art Gallery, but my favorite spot on campus has always been the Salon Gallery at the Center for British Art. The Long Gallery is densely-hung with unlabeled paintings and can be found on the top story of Louis Khan’s stunning museum. Whenever I stop by, a new painting always catches my eye.   

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
During my two years at SOM, I spent as much time as possible at the School of Art. The school is important in the country and includes alumni such as MacArthur Genius Grant recipients Titus Kaphar ’06 and Njideka Akunyili Crosby ’11. Where else can you meet and get to know so many young, talented artists?  While attending the school’s regular lectures and the annual Open Studios (a must for anyone at Yale), I was fortunate to meet current students and visiting faculty. For me, the most impactful was Andrea Fraser, whose recent project assesses the overlap between art and political philanthropy in America.  Fraser’s magnus opus publication, 2016 in Museums, Money, and Politics, shows political donations by board members at museums such as MoMA and the MFA Boston. It is a fascinating project that shows how art can utilize statistical analysis.


Yale Art Gallery
Yale Art Gallery

Michaela Khalfayan ’20


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art (the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the UK), and the Isamu Noguchi sculpture at Beinecke. 

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
One of my favorite pieces of Van Gogh’s, Le café de nuit (The Night Café), on view at Yale University Art Gallery


Fixed Income Instruments, Yale SOM
Fixed income instruments, Evans Hall

Laurie Cameron ’16


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
Although my favorite architecture is in and around the Manuscripts and Archives Library, my favorite specific “art” that I enjoyed were the antique and ancient fixed income instruments framed on the fourth-floor walls near the professors’ suites at SOM. 

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
My favorite artist on campus was Will Goetzmann, who is the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies at Yale SOM and the director of the International Center for Finance. I remember paintings of the Western United States in his office, and I remember when I looked up his research to prepare for class, I found many interesting paintings of the pyramids in Egypt. The use of sunlight in the pictures was memorable to me. A photo of a project that he did with his daughter Zoe melting a coil underneath snow is also memorable to me! 


"Femme Debout (Standing Woman)" sculpture
Femme Debout (Standing Woman) sculpture

Lindsay Dow ’19


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
In the sculpture garden at Yale University Art Gallery, there’s a piece called Gallows and Lollipops—a large orange, metal structure with arms that move in the wind. When I first saw the sculpture, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but almost every time I’ve gone to read or study in the garden, I’ve seen groups of school children come by and watched the children interact with the piece. They immediately want to touch it, explore it, crawl around it. The piece brought such joy to them, and me in turn, that it became one of my favorite spots to visit. The piece so perfectly exemplifies the importance not just of raw aesthetics, but of user experience.

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
There’s an amazing tucked-away corner on the third floor of the Yale Art Gallery where a series of Giacometti statues stand watching a Pollock painting. During my time at Yale, the Art Gallery was always a favorite place to hold meetings and impromptu conversations. Business school sometimes made me feel as though order, planning, and clarity are primary and necessary. That corner, however, always reminded me that much beauty comes from chaos and to embrace confusion as equally necessary to true innovation.


Isamu Noguchi, Beinecke Library
Work by Isamu Noguchi, Beinecke Library

Dan Whitcombe ’20


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus??
Here are my top picks:

  • The Yale University Art Gallery. In my opinion, not just the best museum in New Haven, but one of the best museums in the region. A walk through the gallery rivals a visit to any major art museum in any major city.
  • The Yale Center for British Art. The largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. Like the YUAG, this museum is housed in one of the most important works of modern architecture built in the second half of the 20th century in the United States. Both the YUAG and the YCBA were designed by renowned American architect Louis Kahn.
  • Public art at Yale. From Alexander Calder to Isamu Noguchi, Yale’s campus itself contains an incredible collection of outdoor public art created by some of the foremost artists of the last 200 years. Take a look at the self-guided tour of public art on Yale’s campus that can be found here.
  • Gallery at the Yale School of Architecture. Houses rotating exhibitions related to art and architecture.
  • Artspace New Haven. A contemporary art gallery and non-profit organization located in New Haven’s 9th Square District and dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art by a broad range of artists
  • The New Haven Museum. A local history museum that also houses some incredible works of art related to the history of the city.
  • Open Studios at the Yale School of Art. The Yale School of Art periodically hosts an open studio event where visitors can wander through the studio spaces, talk to current art students, and see their work. The open studio schedule can be found here.
Jackson Pollock, Number 13A: Arabesque
Jackson Pollock, Number 13A: Arabesque

Professor William Goetzmann ’86


What  are some of the places, pieces, and people that inspire you on campus?
I especially like the contemporary art rooms in the Yale University Art Gallery—it is personal for me and a full circle for the museum. I first saw the YUAG in the 1950s—a few years after it opened. Architect Louis Kahn’s modernist masterpiece was a wonderful setting for the “shock of the new”; none of which I understood at the time, but much of which I just loved. Over the years, the new became the traditional, and the YUAG worked to become an exquisite repository for art of all ages. Because of this it is an unparalleled teaching gallery.  However, the bright, spacious contemporary rooms on the top floor invigorate it once again as a living venue for new, strange, stimulating, art.

Was there an artist or artwork that had the most influence on you while you were at Yale?
I have returned to Jackson Pollock’s Number 13A: Arabesque over six decades at different times in my life with different perspectives.  It first inspired me as a schoolboy to try drip paintings, it energized me intellectually as a Yale undergraduate art history major, and it stimulated me to experiment with polaroid drawings in the 1980s. Arabesque  continues to be a touchstone; a lyrical image, a document of human movement, and one of the finest products of a truly America’s artistic movement. It almost always moves me to tears when I visit. 

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