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Release Date: November 6, 2015

Exquisite Works on Paper and Photographs are Among Highlights of Recent Acquisitions of the National Gallery of Art

Pieter Jansz Saenredam Interior of Saint Bavo's Church, Haarlem, mid-1630s pen and brown ink with gray wash and touches of red chalk over graphite on laid paper, squared in red chalk; laid down National Gallery of Art, Washington Gift of Dian Woodner

Pieter Jansz Saenredam
Interior of Saint Bavo's Church, Haarlem, mid-1630s
pen and brown ink with gray wash and touches of red chalk over graphite on laid paper, squared in red chalk; laid down
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of Dian Woodner

Washington, DC—At its October 2015 Board of Trustees meeting, the National Gallery of Art acquired a large number of drawings, prints and photographs that greatly strengthen its collection. Highlights include extraordinary drawings by Pieter Jansz Saenredam (1597–1665) and Hans Rottenhammer (1564–1625), a bound volume with over 200 15th-century woodcuts, as well as a painting from the Thesaurus series by Mel Bochner (b. 1940). Promised photographs include numerous outstanding gelatin silver prints by Diane Arbus (1923–1971), Richard Avedon (1923–2004), and Robert Frank (b. 1924).

"We are thrilled to acquire such an extensive range of prints, drawings, and photographs that deepen the Gallery's spectacular collection. We are grateful to the generous donors who have either given or promised their works to the Gallery," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art.


Part of Mel Bochner's Thesaurus series, the painting Blah, Blah, Blah (2011) was created especially for the Gallery's exhibition In the Tower: Mel Bochner (2011–2012). The placeholder word "blah"—an expression of boredom or annoyance—is painted freely in white on a bright red ground that is repeated across and down the canvas. This painting was given to the Gallery by Mel Bochner in honor of Dr. James Meyer.

Drawings, Prints, and Illustrated Books

Pieter Jansz Saenredam was among the most gifted and revered painters of church interiors during the 17th century. In order to ensure the accuracy and majesty of his views, Saenredam often created precise drawings such as the evocative work, Interior of Saint Bavo's Church, Haarlem (mid–1630s), which was given by Dian Woodner from the Woodner Collection. This large and magnificent drawing will be the finest by Saenredam in an American museum.

Crucial for the history of French graphic art and one of only five known copies of the first edition, the Mirouer de la redemption de lumain lignage—a bound volume with more than 200 woodcuts—was published in Lyons by Martin Huss in 1478. The images and texts are drawn from the Old and New Testament, various apocryphal books, and the artist's imaginative reading or synthesis of other religious texts and legends. This book is the first French translation of the earlier text and it is generally thought to hold the momentous status of the first illustrated book published in France. This volume was purchased courtesy of the New Century Fund and Eugene L. and Marie-Louise Garbáty Fund.

Among the 54 works on paper donated from the collection of Bob Stana and Tom Judy are an extraordinary group of nearly 20 works by Chicago imagists, including Wake Up Yer Scalp (1969), a drawing by Karl Wirsum (b. 1939); A Time and a Place (1969), a lithograph by Jim Nutt (b. 1938); and Hubert (1976–1977), an electrically colored print by Ed Paschke (1939–2004). Stana and Judy also pledged approximately 1,300 mostly American prints and drawings from the 20th- and 21st-centuries, ranging from a delicately colored 1917 woodcut by Edna Boise Hopkins (1872–1937), to a pair of outstanding 1936 brush drawings by Federico Castellón (1914–1971), to etchings from the late 1990s by Dan Flavin (1933–1996), to a 2004 screenprint by Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955).

Rendered with spontaneous energy, Hans Rottenhammer's The Adoration of the Golden Calf (1595/1596) is a brilliant study in pen and wash, purchased courtesy of the Ruth and Jacob Kainen Memorial Fund. This handsome work synthesizes both Roman and Venetian features, integrated in harmony with Rottenhammer's German mannerist style.

Given to the Gallery by Gemini G.E.L., 19 prints and 13 sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923), Bruce Naumann (b. 1941), John Baldessari (b. 1931), Julie Mehretu (b. 1970), Ken Price (1935–2012), and Susan Rothenberg (b. 1945) are presently on view through February 7 in the exhibition, The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L. Also given at this meeting was a superb collection of 60 relief prints and three artist books by Max Weber (1881–1961) from Jack and Margrit Vanderryn.


Among the more than 250 photography acquisitions are gifts and pledges of many exceptional works. Some of the most notable are 28 photographs by Robert Frank made between 1971 and 2001 from an anonymous donor, and exceptional gelatin silver prints by Richard Avedon and Diane Arbus. Frank's Mabou Mines (1971–1972) alludes to his years as a filmmaker and his new understanding of how photographs preserve memories by layering moments of time on top of another. This work, along with all 69 photographs from Avedon's celebrated group of pictures titled The Family (1976) promised by Lisa and John Pritzker; Avedon's The Mission Council, Saigon, South Vietnam, April 28, 1971 (1971) and Arbus's Retired man and his wife at home in a nudist camp one morning, N.J. 1963 (1963) both promised by Randi and Bob Fisher in honor of the 25th anniversary of photography at the National Gallery of Art are on view in the exhibition Celebrating Photography at the National Gallery of Art: Recent Gifts through March 13, 2016.

Seven chromogenic prints from Simon Norfolk's Stratographs series that provocatively reveals the recession of Lewis Glacier on Mount Kenya have been given by Theresa Luisotti in honor of the 25th anniversary of photography at the National Gallery of Art. Four of Norfolk's photographs will be on view in the Recent Gifts exhibition. Donated by Donald S. Rosenfeld, Jr., David Levinthal's Dallas 1963 (2013) illustrates the ways in which photographs influence collective memory and is a stunning addition to the Gallery's photography collection.

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