The arrival of a traveling exhibit from the New York University collection will infuse the Bowdoin College Museum of Art with a new shade of cool.

The exhibit, titled "New York Cool: Paintings and Sculpture from the NYU Art Collection," was curated by New York University professor and art critic Pepe Karmel. Skillfully surveying the disparate New York art world of the 1950s and 1960s, Karmel drew entirely from the New York University Art Collection and included significant pieces by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Alex Katz, Robert Rauschenberg, and others.

"This is extremely exciting for our collection," Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow Diana Tuite said. "It is pretty rare to be able to encounter a collection of Post-War art of this caliber anywhere locally. This is a pretty stellar collection of work that is really addressing a lacuna in our collection."

"New York Cool" is on display in both Halford and Boyd Galleries, stretching upstairs to take the place of the 19th-century American Art Exhibit. Since the renovation of the museum, Boyd Gallery has been dedicated to showing American art in a series of exhibits.

"It has always been an American Gallery," Tuite said. "In fact, this is the first time it has been painted since we reopened, the first time we've departed from the historical gallery colors, and it's really worth it. This exhibit includes a lot of work that, with the renovation and with new spaces, we could finally accommodate in a way that is appropriate."

Yet, while the exhibit lends a modern guise to Boyd Gallery, it remains tied to the shows that have hung before it.

"It may look different," Tuite said. "But it heavily references what has been there before."

Tuite pointed out a Helen Frankenthaler landscape that hangs where landscapes from the American Scene Exhibit hung previously.

"We've tried to be sensitive to the fact that the exhibit is following in a lineage of historical American art, and so each piece is incredibly strong and resonates with what people are used to," she said.

"New York Cool" is also dynamic because it includes both art historical greats as well as lesser-known artists who were embroiled in the artistic fervor of the 1950s and 1960s.

"The exhibit is canonical, yet it also includes artists that are perhaps lesser known or don't have such a historical reputation. In that sense, this exhibit is accessible to everyone," Tuite said. "This comprehensive compilation of artists and artworks fleshes out the artistic story of the era as it pedagogically forces viewers to reexamine what they understood the narrative of Post-War art to be."

"What is particularly powerful about this exhibit is that it complicates the traditional linear narrative of how contemporary art evolved. It shows how movements yielded to other movements, and in that sense it is perfect for a college audience," Tuite said.

Pamela Fletcher, an art history profesor who specializes in modern and contemporary art, emphasized the importance of such the

"Paintings of the 1950s and 1960s rely so much on brushwork, texture and scale that the opportunity to see them first hand is really critical," Fletcher said.

Moreover, the arrival of "New York Cool" engages the campus beyond the walls of the museum.

"The exhibit reveals and comments on an affinity between the literary and the visual arts that was so ripe during this period," Tuite said.

Tuite partnered with Professor of English Marilyn Reizbaum in organizing the opening of the exhibit and the many campus events with which it coincides.

On Wednesday, former Poet Laureate Mark Strand read from his many collections of poetry, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection "Blizzard of One."

On Thursday night, Strand delivered a keynote lecture titled "A Lesson on Looking" in which he shared his expertise about the mid-20th-century art world and the mid-century New York art scene in which many of the paintings in "New York Cool" were created.

The intellectual flame continues to burn later this month with Professor of History David Hecht's lecture "American Culture and the Cold War" on April 30. This lecture will provide another lens through which to view the moment in which the art of "New York Cool" was produced.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art will present "New York Cool: Painting and Sculpture from the NYU Art Collection," a nationally traveling exhibition organized by New York University's Grey Art Gallery, from April 17 to July 19.