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Acquisitions of the Month: July 2015

2 August 2015

Some of the most significant works to enter public collections in July

This week, the Art Fund put out a call for applications to its second set of ‘New Collecting Awards’, a funding scheme designed to support young curators in making acquisitions. A pot of £400,000 will be shared between the winners, enabling purchases that will open up or consolidate existing public collections. In need of inspiration? Here are some of the most important recent acquisitions around the world.

National Gallery, London

Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints (c. 1300–05), Giovanni da Rimini

This beautiful Italian panel painting is the only high quality work by Giovanni da Rimini left in the UK. Previously in the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle, it was sold at auction last year, and despite the government’s temporary export bar it looked likely to leave the country – until the US cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder stepped forward with £5m to acquire it for the National Gallery. It won’t find a permanent home in London until the collector’s death, however: he offered the funds with the proviso that the gallery loan the piece back to him during his lifetime.

(c. 1300–05), Giovanni da Rimini

Lives of the Virgin and Other Saints (c. 1300–05), Giovanni da Rimini

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Untitled (Havana 2000), by Tania Bruguera

Just days after the return of Tania Bruguera’s passport by the Cuban authorities, MoMA announced the acquisition of this seminal early work. In Untitled (Havana 2000) footage from the life of Fidel Castro plays on a small television monitor to a room filled with decaying sugar cane. The piece was created for the VII Bienal de La Habana in 2000, and was the first of a series of similar projects in cities across the globe. Expect more from Bruguera in NYC: she’s also been named as the first participant in a new artist-in-residence scheme set up by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Read also: Cuba’s censorship of Tania Bruguera’s art makes her message more powerful

(Installation view).

Untitled (Havana, 2000) (Installation view). Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Casey Stoll

Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania

20:50, by Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson’s famous installation places the viewer at the end of a small platform in a sea of oil, which eerily mirrors the interior architecture of the host gallery. For years, that gallery has been Charles Saatchi’s in London (it’s the only work on permanent exhibition there). But soon it will travel across the world to the museum of another major collector, the mathematician and professional gambler David Walsh. ‘[I]t might go on a bit of a world tour before “delivery”‘, says the new owner, so if you want to experience the work yourself, the next couple of years might be your best chance.

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Study for Temptation of St Anthony (1909), Pablo Picasso

Picasso was fascinated by the story of St Anthony, who was tested by a series of sensual temptations during his pilgrimage to the Egyptian desert. This sketch tempted another great artist in turn: it comes to the Walker Art Gallery from Lucian Freud’s personal collection, via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. You can see it in the gallery’s current exhibition, ‘Picasso on Paper’, until 31 October.

(1909), Pablo Picasso

Study for Temptation of St. Anthony (1909), Pablo Picasso © National Museums Liverpool

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

Nine photographs by Paul Strand

In 1954 the American photographer Paul Strand was inspired to make the unusual journey to South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides, after hearing a radio documentary about the community’s Gaelic songs. He spent months observing, and then photographing, the islanders and their way of life. This selection of photographs, acquired with the support of the Art Fund, includes four portraits and five other photographs depicting the surrounding landscape and everyday scenes.

(1954), Paul Strand

Peggy MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides (1954), Paul Strand © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The High Street, Oxford (1810), J. M. W. Turner

This large-scale townscape, an unusual subject for Turner, has been on loan to the museum since 1997, and was recently offered to the nation via the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme – but only if £860,000 could be found from other sources. The Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, and the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean all contributed, along with the general public who stumped up some £60,000 to keep the work in Oxford.

(1810), J. M. W. Turner

The High Street, Oxford (1810), J. M. W. Turner

Columbus Museum of Art

Three Screens for Looking at Abstraction, by Josiah McElheny; Study for Strings, by Susan Philipsz; It’s Symptomatic/What Would Edith Say, by Carissa Rodriguez; Untitled (January 12), by Paul Feeley.

These four post-war and contemporary works will go on display on 25 October as the CMA celebrates the opening of its new wing. The pieces span various different media, from Feeley’s undulating abstract painting to Philipsz’s famous sound work – the first of its kind to enter the collection. McElheny’s installation uses translucent projection cloth, mirrors and film to present a very contemporary take on abstraction, while Rodriguez’s depiction of a tongue, with an acupuncturist’s diagnoses scrawled over the image, explores society’s obsession with health, and the competing claims of traditional and modern medicine.

Installation view: 'Josiah McElheny: Some Pictures of the Infinite' (22 June–14 October 2012), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Installation view: ‘Josiah McElheny: Some Pictures of the Infinite’ (22 June–14 October 2012), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Image courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York © Josiah McElheny

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