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Acquisitions of the Month: October 2015

5 November 2015

What have the museums been buying this month?

George Eastman Museum, New York

William Kentridge’s complete works in time-based media

South African artist William Kentridge has given the complete set of his films, videos, and ‘digital-born’ works to the George Eastman Museum, in a spectacular endorsement of the specialist photography and cinema institution. The gifted works range from early creations such as Discourse on a Chair (1985), which was only recently rediscovered, to his latest works – More Sweetly Play the Dance, which was recently shown at Marian Goodman Gallery in London and is discussed in this interview with the artist.

(2015), William Kentridge.

More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015), William Kentridge. George Eastman Museum, gift of the artist

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

83 photographs from the Stephen G. Stein Employee Benefit Trust

Stephen G. Stein is already a significant supporter of the NGA’s photography department, having previously provided funds for major acquisitions, including works by the 19th-century photographers William Henry Fox Talbot and Captain Linnaeus Tripe. This new promised gift, which includes important works by the likes of Edward Weston, Robert Frank, and Diane Arbus, will strengthen the museum’s 20th-century holdings as it celebrates 25 years of collecting photographs. A selection is included in the current exhibition, ‘Celebrating Photography at the National Gallery of Art: Recent Gifts’, until 13 March 2016.

(1955), Robert Frank

Parade—Hoboken, New Jersey (1955), Robert Frank © Robert Frank from The Americans

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Pink with Border (late 1967), Jack Bush

Jack Bush started off as an illustrator but fostered his love of abstract art in his spare time, playing a role in the Toronto-based abstract expressionist group Painters Eleven (1953–60) and winning the attention of Clement Greenberg in 1957. This colourful but carefully balanced painting was created in 1967, a year before the artist abandoned his commercial work to dedicate himself to his painting. The work was bequeathed to the museum by its first owner, Rosita Tovell, who passed away last year.

(21-22 October 1967), Jack Bush.

Pink with Border (21-22 October 1967), Jack Bush. Photo © National Gallery of Canada

Dallas Museum of Art

1st-Century Roman Head of Herakles

This seemingly complete work is in fact two artfully combined Roman fragments – a sculpted head of Herakles from the 1st century AD, and a headless bust from the 2nd. It was the idea of the 18th-century French sculptor Lambert-Sigisbert Adam to put them together – so in a way Dallas has managed to acquire three works in one. It was given to the museum by David T. Owsley through the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation.

c. 1st century AD), Italy.

Head of Herakles c. 1st century AD), Italy. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley in memory of Professor Alan R. Bromberg, via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and Wendover Fund

Royal Museums Greenwich, London

17 drawings by Rosemary Rutherford

In 1940 Rosemary Rutherford – a British artist who had trained at the Slade – joined the war effort as a Red Cross nurse. The drawings she subsequently made of her colleagues and the convalescing sailors offer important insights into a specific corner of the conflict, as well as the experiences of women and wounded servicemen more generally. The acquisition was made as a result of research conducted for a new publication, Art and the War at Sea (edited by Christine Riding).

(1943-4), Rosemary Rutherford.

A Doctor Reading (1943-4), Rosemary Rutherford. © National Maritime Museum

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Bottle and Glass on a Table (1912), Pablo Picasso

The acquisition of an early Cubist collage is a major coup for the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and made headlines when it was announced at the tail end of the month. Works from this seminal period in in Picasso’s career are rare on the market (this one was previously housed in a private collection in Sweden), and this particular piece includes the first known example of stencilled lettering in the artist’s oeuvre.

(1912), Pablo Picasso.

Bottle and Glass on a Table (1912), Pablo Picasso. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Nationalmuseum Sweden, Stockholm

Study of a Lumpsucker, attributed to Hendrick Goltzius’s circle

Towards the end of the 16th century, the Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius completed a popular set of studies depicting different flora and fauna. This meticulously observed watercolour was once attibuted to the artist himself, but due to its atypical medium (Goltzius preferred chalk and wash) the work has since been ‘downgraded’. No matter: whatever the signature, it’s a fascinating example of nature studies from the period that beautifully captures the rather unsightly details of the lumpsucker specimen.

(1590s), circle of Hendrick Goltzius.

Study of a Male Lumpsucker (1590s), circle of Hendrick Goltzius. Photo: Anna Danielsson/Nationalmuseum

Vancouver Art Gallery

First Nations artworks from the collection of George Gund III

This donation of 37 artworks includes historic pieces by Haida, Heiltsuk, Inuit, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nuxalk and Tlingit artists from America’s northwest coast, as well as pieces by contemporary First Nations artists. The major group comes from the collection of the late George Gund III, and acts as an ‘important counterbalance to the Euro-Canadian narratives of art making already in the collection’, according to director Kathleen S. Bartels.

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Full set of 109 digital artworks from Daata Editions Season One

Earlier this year, Daata Editions invited 18 artists to create six new digital artworks for sale in editions of 20. The third release of artworks from ‘Season One’ was unveiled during Frieze week. With an eye on posterity, the start-up commissioning body kept five of each edition aside to be offered to public institutions. It worked: Hammer Museum has accepted a complete set of 109 artworks. Collector and Apollo 40 Under 40 nominee Julia Stoschek also bought the lot.

(2015), Takeshi Murata.

Plant Whisperer (2015), Takeshi Murata. Daata Editions

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