Apollo Magazine

Acquisitions of the month: June 2017

A huge collection of Diane Arbus photographs heads for Ontario, and the Getty finally gets its Parmigianino

Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina (detail; 2017), Yinka Shonibare. Yale Center for British Art. Photo: Stephen White

Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina (detail; 2017), Yinka Shonibare. Yale Center for British Art. Photo: Stephen White

A round-up of the best works of art to enter public collections recently

High Museum of Art, Atlanta
The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin (2015), Kara Walker

Kara Walker, who studied at Atlanta College of Art, made this huge cut-paper piece in response to the Charleston church shooting in 2015. It explores the subject of racial violence and intimidation, incorporating imagery based on the memorial carving of Confederate leaders at Georgia’s Stone Mountain into a disturbing composition of silhouetted figures. The work joins two of Walker’s print portfolios in the High Museum collection.

The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin (2015), Kara Walker. Courtesy the High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
522 photographs by Diane Arbus

Until this acquisition, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) owned nothing by the American photographer Diane Arbus. Now, it is home to one of the biggest collections of her work in the world, and the largest in Canada. The group of 522 photographs spans the whole of Arbus’s career, from early images of New York in the 1950s, to celebrity portraits from the 1960s onwards (which were published in the likes of Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire), and her famous square-format scenes of American life.

Woman with veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C., 1968 (1968), Diane Arbus. Art Gallery of Ontario. © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC

British Museum, London
Middle Eastern photography

Nine artists are represented in this acquisition, which was made with the support of the Art Fund to expand an existing capsule collection of Middle Eastern and North African photography. Each of them uses photography as a means of recording, reflecting on, and questioning contemporary life and recent history in the region. The works range from Lydia Ourahmane’s Polaroids of migrants sheltering in Algerian caves before crossing the Mediterranean, to Hengameh Golestan’s images of a women’s protest against the chador in Iran in 1979.

Fleeing will save us (2016), Lydia Ourahmane. © the artist

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina (2017), Yinka Shonibare

Shonibare created this sculpture for the exhibition ‘Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World’, which launched at the YCBA in February and is currently open in London’s Kensington Palace. The piece illustrates a meeting between Princess Augusta and plantation owner Eliza Lucas Pinckney in 1753, for which the latter wore a dress made from silk produced on her land by slaves. She presented the princess with indigo-dyed fabric and three native birds. Shonibare reimagines the scene with a number of surreal alterations that raise questions about Western concepts of enlightenment and civilisation.

Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina (2017), Yinka Shonibare. Yale Center for British Art. Photo: Stephen White

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Various works

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has expanded its holdings of contemporary, East Asian, American and French art in a wide-ranging set of acquisitions, many of which are gifts from private donors. Among the new arrivals is a significant set of 10 time-based media works from the collection of Peter and Mari Shaw, including Melik Ohanian’s The Hand (2002), and Promises (2001) by Anri Sala; 12 Japanese paintings from the literati, Zen and Kano schools, from the Gitter-Yelen collection; several examples of American furniture design; and an exceptional 16th-century stained glass window by French artist Jean Chastellain depicting The Adoration of the Magi.

The Hand (2002), Melik Ohanian. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. © Melik Ohanian / ADAGP PARIS, 2017. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Portrait of Claude-Armand Gérôme (c. 1848), Jean-Léon Gérôme

Gérome was an influential figure in the 19th-century French art world, but he remains underrepresented in British collections. With this acquisition the Fitzwilliam Museum becomes one of just six UK institutions to own a work by the artist. This piece – a virtuoso ‘swagger-portrait’ of the artist’s brother, who died two years later of meningitis – was exhibited to acclaim at the Paris Salon in 1848, winning a Second Class medal. It remained in the artist’s possession until his death in 1904 and was lost for over a century until its rediscovery at auction in 2013.

Portrait of Claude-Armand Gérôme (c. 1848), Jean-Léon Gérôme. © Fitzwilliam Museum

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
City Roofs (1932), Edward Hopper; Allied Flags, April 1917 (1917), Childe Hassam

These two significant examples of American art from before the Second World War have been given to the Whitney by an anonymous donor. Hopper’s painting, which depicts the view from his studio rooftop in New York, is unique in his oeuvre, and joins an already extensive collection of his work at the museum. The American Impressionist Childe Hassam was one of just a few artists who recorded the home front during the First World War. His painting of patriotic flags on Fifth Avenue is one of a series created shortly after the USA entered the conflict, and includes a self-portrait.

City Roofs (1932), Edward Hopper. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by Whitney Museum of American Art

Allied Flags, April 1917 (1917), Childe Hassam. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of an anonymous donor

Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Five works by Anselm Kiefer

Five major works by German artist Anselm Kiefer are heading to Munich, following their acquisition by the Michael & Eleonore Stoffel Foundation on behalf of the Bavarian State Painting Collection. The group includes two wall pieces from 2011 that refer back to Kiefer’s important OCCUPATIONS seris of 1969, in which the German artist photographed himself giving the Hitler salute in an effort to provoke discussion about the country’s recent past. A monumental painting of a mysterious assemblage of bricks (Der Sand aus den Urnen; 2009), and two display cases (Die 12 Stämme; 2010, and Morgenthau; 2016), complete the set, which more than doubles the institution’s existing Kiefer collection and significantly expands its range.

OCCUPATIONS (1969/2011), Anselm Kiefer. Photo © Charles Duprat / Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Virgin with Child, St John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalene (c. 1530–40), Parmigianino

The Getty announced its intent to acquire this masterpiece by Parmigianino last August, but only confirmed the purchase last month when Arts Council England granted the necessary export license. The painting – an exceptionally well preserved example of the artist’s Mannerist style – had been on long-term loan to London’s National Gallery, but fundraising efforts to keep it in the UK were unsuccessful. It will now take its place among works by Pontormo, Correggio, Sebastiano del Piombo and other Italian Renaissance masters in LA.

The Virgin and Child with Saint Mary Magdalen and the Infant Saint John the Baptist (c. 1535–40), Parmigianino. Photo: DCMS

Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe
Suzan Harjo Archives

Suzan Harjo, the long-term campaigner for Native arts, cultures and policies, has entrusted her archive and art collection to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Harjo, who has an honorary doctorate from the institute, has known its director Patsy Phillips for two decades. The gift includes documents pertaining to Harjo’s activism, including important pieces of national legislation protecting and advancing Native American rights, as well as around 60 works of art. ‘At some point in your life, you have to divest’, Harjo said of her decision to donate the archive. ‘You never know what the future holds and what will happen in life.’

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
Woman in a Sailor Shirt (1916), Amedeo Modigliani

This painting was one of the exhibits at Modigliani’s scandalous exhibition at Berthe Weill gallery in Paris, 1917, which closed early due to a furore surrounding the artist’s sensual nudes. This piece is rather more modest, depicting an anonymous young sitter dressed in the fashionable ‘French Riviera Style’. The oil on canvas painting was bequeathed to the foundation by Luisa Toso, and carefully restored before being put on display at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Woman in a Sailor Shirt (La femme en blouse marine) (1916), Amedeo Modigliani