MFA announces major gift of contemporary craft from Daphne Farago Collection

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), announces a gift of 161 works from longtime supporter Daphne Farago — the Museum’s largest-ever gift of contemporary craft across a range of media. These 20th- and 21st-century works are among the finest examples of studio craft and represent objects by notable artists, such as fiber artists Anni Albers and Sheila Hicks, sculptor Robert Arneson, glass artist Dale Chihuly, and furniture maker John Cederquist. The gift includes works of fiber (94), ceramics (24), glass (19), turned wood/carvings (11), metal (5), furniture (4), jewelry (2), basketry (1), and folk art (1). The largest donor of contemporary craft in the Museum’s history, Mrs. Farago has transformed the MFA’s collection with gifts totaling nearly 950 objects to the Museum in her lifetime. Other significant donations to the MFA by Mrs. Farago include the 2006 gift of more than 650 pieces of contemporary jewelry and the 2004 gift of more than 80 works of contemporary fiber art created by the late Edward Rossbach and Katherine Westphal.

"These works illustrate Daphne Farago's vision as a collector — they are part of her personal collection and represent some of the finest, most intellectually and technically ambitious creations in these areas," said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. "We greatly appreciate her generosity and longstanding commitment to the MFA."

One of the finest holdings of fiber art in private hands, the gift includes works such as Dotted Weaving (1959) by Albers, Jasper Johns Teapot/Ventriloquist (2000) by Kate Anderson, and Structure No. 18: Theory of Lift (1994) by Jeannette Marie Ahlgren. Other fiber artists represented include Dominic Di Mare, Lenore Tawney, and Kay Sekimachi.

Among the highlights of works of ceramics are Alice Plate (1968) by Arneson, Then, Now, Before, After (1994) by Kathy Butterly, and Untitled Vessel (1999) by Ralph Bacerra. Standout objects of glass include English Red Light Venetian #165 (about 1989) by Chihuly; Fili Neri con Capelli Rossi dAngelo (2002) by Yoichi Ohira; and CFKGREENHg  #19901 by Joel Philip Myers. Also of note is the wood bench Couchabunga (1992) by Cederquist and the necklace Adam and Eve Being Cast From the Garden of Eden (1981-82) by Joyce J. Scott.

“Daphne Farago’s gift is a game-changer for us,” said Edward Saywell, Chair of the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art. “Although the MFA has a distinguished history of collecting and exhibiting contemporary craft, this gift broadens and deepens our holdings in truly significant ways. The gift will be a touchstone for the collection and will be a remarkable legacy.”

Daphne Farago and her late husband, Peter Farago, have been generous donors to the MFA for several decades and are recognized as Great Benefactors (representing giving of financial and/or works of art of $2.5 million-$5 million) to the Museum. In recognition of their continued generosity, the MFA named its contemporary craft gallery in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art the Daphne and Peter Farago Gallery when it opened in September 2011. Currently, a selection of works lent by the Farago Collection is grouped in the gallery’s current installation Crafting Contemporary: Selections from the Daphne Farago Collection. In August 2013, a number of works from this most recent gift will be on display in the Farago Gallery, as well as in the Art of the Americas Wing. Additionally, the Faragos established the Daphne Farago Lecture on Jewelry in 1996, and Mrs. Farago serves on the Textile and Fashion Arts Visiting Committee and is a former member of the Art of the Americas Visiting Committee.

Mrs. Farago, a native of South Africa, has been collecting for decades. In addition to outstanding holdings of contemporary craft, she amassed one of the finest assemblages of early American objects — initially her collecting passion. Her holdings in American folk art were sold in 1991 to benefit the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, which later opened the Daphne Farago wing for contemporary art.

Daphne Farago and her late husband Peter, 2007. Photograph © Suzanne Kores.