The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced that a fascinating and diverse group of new acquisitions has recently been added to its permanent collection. More than 1,200 works of art were purchased or donated to the Richmond Museum in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022.
“We are thrilled to continue to expand our comprehensive collection of nearly 50,000 works of art, which will enrich the lives of our visitors for generations to come,” said Alex Nyerges, Director and CEO of VMFA. “Some of the new works will be featured in the new wing of the museum, which is slated to open in 2027 and includes expanded galleries for African, American, Native American and 21st Century art.”
Acquisition highlights include significant additions to the museum’s American art collections. In particular, the VMFA says in a statement that it is delighted to welcome the works of notable 20th-century American artists Andrew Wyeth and Guy Pène du Bois. Erickson’s, painted by Wyeth in 1973, embodies the artist’s exploration of the human condition through one of his most recognizable subjects, his neighbor George Erickson. Given Wyeth’s status as “one of the most lauded and collected artists of the 20th century,” according to Dr. Christopher C. Oliver, Associate Curator of American Art Bev Perdue Jennings, “VMFA has finally intention to present the work as a cornerstone of the new wing of the museum. Visitors don’t have to wait to see the painting; however – it is currently on display in the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing.
An equally important addition to the museum’s collections of American art is Guy Pène du Bois’s 1929 painting Approaching Storm, Racetrack. The work is “arguably one of the three best and most important canvases” produced by the artist, acclaimed for his contributions to American modernism, according to Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art Dr. Leo G. Mazov. “As Storm approaches, Racetrack is as visually stunning as it is culturally evocative,” Mazow said.
VMFA’s efforts to broaden the reach of its living artist collections are evident in a multi-faceted group of works new to its contemporary art collection. One such acquisition is Gravity and Grace, a large-scale installation made from aluminum bottle caps and copper wire by Nigeria-based Ghanaian artist El Anatsui in 2010. Through the simultaneous use by artist of abstraction and unconventional materials, as well as traditional Ghanaian imagery Adrinka, the work marries modernist impulses with classical West African sensibilities. The artist challenges viewers to reflect on the intersections of persistent global issues by interrogating “the legacy and residual effects of colonialism in African countries like Ghana and Nigeria using materials rooted in consumption, waste and the environment”, according to Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Through used and discarded objects, Anatsui addresses postcolonial ramifications on former colonized nations. However, it is the artist’s manipulation of these very materials into magnificent works of art that speaks to the resilience and beauty of African communities, emphasizing transcendence beyond boundaries,” said added Cassel Oliver, who is looking forward to installing the 37-foot-wide artwork in the museum. new wing.
Armor Skirt IV, a 2017 sculpture by renowned Pakistani artist Naiza Khan, is another standout acquisition from VMFA’s contemporary collections. The work, which alludes to structural women’s underwear in its form, meditates on the politicization of the female public body in Pakistan amid the ongoing cultural conflict between Islamization and feminist activism that began in the 1980s. “The sculpture is the first work by a Pakistani artist to enter the VMFA’s South Asian collection,” noted Dr. John Henry Rice, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter, Curator of South Asian Art. and Islamic.
The VMFA is also delighted to add to the photography collection renowned photographer Carrie Mae Weems’ groundbreaking 1990 work, The Kitchen Table Series. The series interrogates the role of racial and gender power dynamics in family relationships through 20 photographs and 14 text panels. “Acquiring such an iconic body of work expands our existing collections of photographs by this important artist and complements our rich holdings of works by artists like Louis Draper and members of the Kamoinge workshop,” said the Dr Sarah Kennel, Curator of Photography Aaron Siskind and Director of the Raysor Center for Works on Paper.
The museum’s new acquisitions are complemented by exciting additions to the VMFA’s European and East Asian art collections, including a historically significant painting by the French Romantic master Théodore Géricault and a Chinese gilt statue of the Fifteenth century. Portrait of an African Man, painted by Géricault in 1819, embodies the artist’s adherence to “established conventions of history painting in the service of marginalized or oppressed groups and causes, including abolitionism”, a said Dr. Sylvain Cordier, curator Paul Mellon and head of the European Art Department. The painting depicts a survivor of the infamous sinking of the Medusa in 1816, in which the captain of the doomed ship left lower-ranking members of the crew, especially those of color, to die, choosing to save only himself and his senior officers. The portrait, believed to be a preparatory study for Géricault’s 1819 masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa, depicts one of the painting’s main protagonists, an African whose tragic heroism turns the scandalous incident into a ” monumental scene” imbued with abolitionist political intent. .
The museum’s East Asian art collection welcomes the addition of Chen Yanqing’s seated figure of Yuanshi Tianzun (Early Primordial Celestial Worthy), a superb early 15th-century Chinese gilt-bronze statue from the preeminent Taoist deity. With “the artwork’s exemplary exploration of Taoist aesthetics and concepts, the statue will stand as one of VMFA’s most significant Chinese artworks,” said Li Jian, E. Rhodes and Leona B Carpenter, Curator of East Asian Art. One of 12 surviving bronzes by Chen Yanqing, this work joins three others held outside China, all in North American museum collections. The sculpture, which was acquired at auction at Sotheby’s, New York, in March 2022, will go on display later this summer.
In the process of expanding and transforming VMFA’s collections over the past 12 months, the museum’s 15 curators have sought to “address the historic underrepresentation of artists from Africa, African American, Islamic, Latino, LGBTQIA+, Native American and female,” said Dr. Michael Taylor, Chief Curator and Associate Director for Art and Education. “These efforts are evident in the works the museum has added to the collection over the past year, and for the seventh consecutive year, VMFA has spent over 30% of its endowed acquisition funds on African art and African American in accordance with our strategic plan.” Through these efforts, VMFA hopes to fulfill its “deep commitment to representing and serving all of the diverse communities in the state,” Dr. Taylor added.
For more information on the permanent collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, visit www.VMFA.museum.
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