The artworks in “Building a Collection” share two important qualities: each is a significant addition to the Museum’s distinguished collection, and each was recently acquired through donation or purchase. This gathering of work reveals the broad definition of contemporary art at the Museum–art created after the mid-twentieth century without restrictions to geography or media.
Traditional works such as paintings by emerging artist Kate Shepherd and contemporary masters Robert Mangold, Bridget Riley, and Susan Rothenberg are among those included. There are also pieces that cannot be easily categorized, such as Jennifer Bolande’s Appliance House (1998–99), and Christian Boltanski’s grid of blue lights and dangling cords surrounding a photo of a young girl. The Museum acquired major works by seminal artists Joseph Beuys and Bruce Nauman. Beuys’s chalk drawing on a blackboard and Nauman’s video of himself–taken by him on his ranch–are understated though they reveal a profound understanding that making art and living life are indistinguishable.
Especially important to expanding a public collection are the support and generosity of private collectors ready to part with significant works that will dramatically change the institution’s holdings for its international audience. This generosity is exemplified by the recent gift of a vibrant metal wall relief by Frank Stella, the first major work by this artist to enter the collection. Other gifts featured in this exhibition are a rigorous and enigmatic painting by Sam Messer and a portrait by Alex Katz of his wife, a work whose presence exceeds its intimate dimensions. Selections of new color photographs and images from a portfolio by Tracey Moffatt, another critical gift, are among other recent acquisitions on view.