Release Date: February 5, 2015
National Gallery of Art Announces Historic Acquisition of More Than 6,000 Works of Art from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; Plus Upcoming Installations at the Gallery and the Corcoran
Washington, DC—Earl A. Powell III, director, and Franklin Kelly, deputy director and chief curator, National Gallery of Art, announced today that 6,430 works of art have been selected initially from more than 17,000 Corcoran works in the Gallery's custody to join the nation's collection of European and American art. As curators continue to review the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the newly accessioned objects will have an immediate impact across NGA's collections and will be particularly transformative for its holdings of American art in all media.
"This is an historic moment for the National Gallery of Art, which has an important responsibility as a steward of the renowned Corcoran collection," said Powell. "We look forward to bringing this art to a larger audience, creating myriad new experiences for learning and enjoyment. The success of this continuing endeavor is dependent on the knowledge and hard work of many dedicated staff. We are all deeply grateful for the support of our trustees, colleagues, and friends."
"Our selection of works," said Kelly, "is based on criteria such as aesthetic considerations, art historical importance, and relevance to the areas in which we collect. The acquisitions range widely, filling gaps and delivering significant depth and breadth. As the review of the Corcoran collection continues, we are only beginning to realize the many ways in which the Gallery will be able to tell a more comprehensive narrative of American and European art history."
According to Harry Hopper, the Corcoran's chairman, "The first priority of the Corcoran trustees was the preservation of the Corcoran's collection, college, iconic building, and legacy. The National Gallery of Art's initial accessioning of our works into their collection is an important step toward ensuring the legacy of the Corcoran and its renowned collection for generations to come. There is still much work to be done and we look forward to our continuing collaborative efforts with the National Gallery."
New Installations, Integration, and Distribution of Art
From February 6 through May 3, 2015, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) will present two installations in its West Building: American Masterworks from the Corcoran, 1815–1940 on the main floor and Focus on the Corcoran: Works on Paper, 1860–1990 on the ground floor. An exhibition of photographs from both the Corcoran and NGA collections is scheduled for spring 2016 in the West Building photography galleries.
Beginning in the summer of 2015 and continuing for several months, paintings will be integrated into the American galleries on the main floor of the West Building. This effort will continue into other galleries through 2016, when the East Building galleries reopen. Admission to the National Gallery of Art is free of charge every day of the week.
NGA officials will assist the Trustees of the Corcoran in their distribution of the non-accessioned works to eligible cultural institutions in Washington, D.C., in accordance with the process approved by the Attorney General of the District of Columbia.
Agreements, Renovations, Exhibitions, and Availability of Works and Images
On August 18, 2014, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, the George Washington University (GW), and the National Gallery of Art received approval from the District of Columbia Superior Court to implement their agreements that were first announced in February 2014. The court's ruling permits the parties to proceed with the transfer of ownership of the Corcoran's historic 17th Street building and the College of Art + Design to GW and custody of the art collection to the National Gallery of Art.
NGA's plan for exhibitions in the second floor galleries of the Corcoran's Flagg Building is dependent on GW's construction schedule. It will take NGA approximately one year to update and refurbish the floors, walls, lighting, and skylights, and to install the first exhibition in the second floor galleries. Boundary Markers: Outliers and Mainstream American Art and Rachel Whiteread are among the shows planned for 2017 and 2018.
Corcoran works entering the National Gallery of Art's collection bear the credit line, "Corcoran Collection," plus the historic donor or other appropriate Corcoran credit line, and will eventually be published on the website at www.nga.gov. A complete list of all 6,430 acquisitions from the Corcoran collection as of January 30, 2015, is available online as a PDF file in the National Gallery of Art's online press kit at http://www.nga.gov/press/2015/nga-corcoran-announcements.html
As works are digitized in high resolution―many for the first time―they will be made available for public use free of charge in accordance with NGA's open access policies at NGA Images―images.nga.gov―a state-of-the-art image repository of works in the collection.
Accessioned works that are not on view or undergoing conservation study and treatment will be safely stored and made available for loan in accordance with NGA standards. NGA continues to honor all previous loan commitments made by the Corcoran.
The National Gallery of Art will continue and expand public accessibility to the Corcoran collection of prints, drawings, and watercolors (collectively, works on paper), as well as photographs. They will become available for viewing by members of the public in NGA's study rooms on weekdays. Once an announcement has been made, anyone may make an appointment to see specified works in the Gallery's study rooms by calling (202) 842-6605 for American works on paper, (202) 842-6380 for European works on paper, and (202) 842-6144 for photographs.
No works of art will be sold. A plan for distribution of the works not accessioned by the National Gallery of Art to Washington-area institutions was approved by the D.C. Superior Court. The Corcoran is responsible for distribution and NGA will assist in the administration and provide advice on cultural institutions where the works will receive optimum care, study, and maximum public accessibility.
Historical Background for the Acquisitions
The acquisition and display of contemporary art, or the art of the times, was a core principle throughout the Corcoran's history. The Corcoran Gallery of Art opened to the public in 1874 with the art holdings and patronage of Washington banker and philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran (1798–1888), who had in mind to establish a national collection for the capital city with the aim of "encouraging American genius," as stated in the museum's charter.
With an exceptionally discerning eye, Corcoran began collecting American art well before most of his contemporaries. He often purchased works directly from American artists whom he knew personally, thus setting the foundation for the Corcoran Gallery of Art's reputation as one of the most significant repositories of art of the United States.
Beginning around 1900, when the Corcoran set out to actively collect prints, drawings, and watercolors, it also began hosting annual exhibitions of the Washington Water Color Club, as well as frequent monographic shows of living American artists. From 1907 to 2005, its nationally known biennials became sources for acquisitions of contemporary art. Often works were acquired from these shows and others were purchased directly from artists' studios and dealers.
The 1926 bequest of Senator William A. Clark's collection considerably enhanced the Corcoran's holdings of European art and will now complement NGA's collection. The 18th-century rococo Salon Doré (or gilded room) donated by Clark, which will remain in the Corcoran Building, is now owned and maintained by George Washington University.
A number of events and practices led the Corcoran to collect a wide range of modern and contemporary art primarily by American artists. These include innovative exhibitions of minimalist art during the 1960s and photography in the 1970s, the establishment of degree programs in the Corcoran School of Art in 1977, and regular purchases of art by the Corcoran Women's Committee since the 1950s.
In recent years, purchases, as well as gifts from many donors, continued to expand the Corcoran's collection of notable works by women and African Americans. In 1996, the Corcoran acquired the Evans-Tibbs Collection of 33 works across media by African Americans (including eight women) with artists ranging from Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937) to Betye Saar (b. 1926). The collection, assembled by the well-known opera singer Lillian Evans Tibbs (1890–1967) and her grandson, federal government employee and art collector Thurlow Evans Tibbs, Jr. (1952–1997), both of Washington, D.C., now comes to NGA in its entirety, along with an important related archive of reference materials.
American Art Installation and Acquisition Highlights
Since the Corcoran closed in October 2014, the collection has been off view. Amid an ongoing curatorial review, 226 American paintings completed before 1945 will join 1,215 already in NGA's collection. A selection of these acquisitions will be on view in American Masterworks from the Corcoran, 1815–1940, which features 29 paintings and two sculptures. In the first room, longtime visitors to the Corcoran will immediately recognize favorites, such as John Singer Sargent's Simplon Pass (1911), Frederic Edwin Church's Tamaca Palms (1854), and Sanford Robinson Gifford's Ruins of the Parthenon (1880).
In the next room, Hiram Powers's famous marble The Greek Slave (modeled 1841–1843, carved 1846) joins Sargent's 1883 portrait of Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd White and Thomas Eakins's Singing a Pathetic Song (1881). The same gallery includes Thomas Cole's paired works The Departure and The Return from 1837; a selection of genre scenes (images of everyday life) by artists new to NGA's paintings collection, including Alfred Jacob Miller, William Sidney Mount, and Richard Caton Woodville; Poor Artist's Cupboard (c. 1815), a witty trompe l'oeil composition and the first painting by Charles Bird King to enter the NGA's collection; and Flowers on a Window Ledge (c. 1861), NGA's first still life by John La Farge.
Remington's bronze Off the Range (Coming Through the Rye) (modeled 1902, cast 1903)―one of the Gallery's first two sculptures by the artist―takes center stage in a room with several large iconic paintings, including Albert Bierstadt's The Last of the Buffalo (1888) and Mount Corcoran (c. 1876–1877), Frederic Edwin Church's Niagara (1857), and Samuel Finley Breese Morse's The House of Representatives (1822). A rare portrait of a clean-shaven president-elect Abraham Lincoln (1860) by George Peter Alexander Healy and Buffalo Trail: The Impending Storm (1869) by Bierstadt are nearby.
In the final room, later works include the dramatic Into Bondage (1936), one of a series of four canvases by Aaron Douglas depicting the journey of African Americans from their native land to the modern metropolis; Edward Hopper's Ground Swell (1939) and John Sloan's Yeats at Petitpas' (1910–c. 1914), which become the second paintings by each artist to join NGA's collection; George Bellows's important Forty-two Kids (1907); Marsden Hartley's innovative Berlin Abstraction (1914/1915), and Sita and Sarita (c. 1921), NGA's first work by Cecilia Beaux.
Works on Paper Installation and Acquisition Highlights
More than half of the Corcoran collection consists of 8,979 prints, drawings, and watercolors. To date, 3,445 have joined the National Gallery of Art's collection of 113,698. Twenty-six European and American works are on view in Focus on the Corcoran: Works on Paper, 1860–1990, a two-room installation on the ground floor of the West Building.
The first room begins with three hushed pastoral scenes—two done in pastel, one in charcoal—by the Barbizon school artist Jean-François Millet that have become the most important works by the artist in the NGA's collection. The satirical Le Défenseur (Council for the Defense) (c. 1862–1865) by Honoré Daumier is one of NGA's finest drawings by the artist. Two vibrant pastels by Edgar Degas—Café-concert (1876/1877) and Two Women Performing (c. 1878–1880)—rank high among NGA's 12 pastels by the famous impressionist.
John Singer Sargent's Male Torso with Pole (1895/1916) represents approximately 100 of his charcoal drawings in the Corcoran collection. Nearby are two Venetian views: Church of San Giorgio Maggiore (1880), a jewel-like pastel by James McNeill Whistler, and Campo dei Friari (1880/1882), a translucent watercolor by Sargent, as well as two renowned watercolors by Winslow Homer: Young Woman Sewing (1876) and Hudson River, Logging (1891/1892).
Visitors may recognize two watercolors by Charles Demuth—Rooftops and Trees (1918) and In Vaudeville, the Bicycle Rider (1919)―but few will be familiar with Berlin Symbols #6 (1914–1915) by Marsden Hartley or Arthur Dove's charcoal drawing, #4 Creek (c. 1923), a rare type of work. Street Musicians (1940) by William H. Johnson, an exemplary screenprint in the artist's faux-naïf style, is the second of his works to enter the collection. In recent years NGA has acquired wonderful drawings by Louise Bourgeois, but none as magnificent as the Corcoran's La tapisserie de mon enfance—Mountains in Aubusson (Tapestry of My Childhood) (1947).
Among several NGA firsts in the installation are works by David Park and Betye Saar. Dat Ol' Black Magic (1981) by Saar―a collage from the Evans-Tibbs Collection―incorporates vintage game cards and items that underscore her concern for the past and demonstrate her interest in the mystical. Anchoring the second room is Drawing for "Ghost Dance" (1974), a beautiful, large watercolor drawing by Robert Stackhouse, who exhibited at the Corcoran and taught at the Corcoran College of Art + Design from 1966 to 1987.
Among major works not on view but joining the collection is a renowned set, assembled by the artist himself, of more than 840 late 19th and early 20th-century portrait engravings by Charles-Balthazar J.F. de Saint-Mémin; three watercolors of wild animals by the French romantic artist Antoine-Louis Barye; one of Everett Shinn's greatest pastels, Cross Streets of New York (1899); a 1930 design for a book cover by Frank Lloyd Wright—NGA's first work in any medium by the distinguished American architect; a brilliant watercolor by John Marin, Flint Isle, Maine–No. 1 (1947); two of local legend Anne Truitt's finest minimalist drawings, made in 1962; an enormous cut-paper silhouette by Kara Walker, Roots and Links, Inc. (1997); and Damien Hirst's complete series of twelve Last Supper prints (1999), the first works by Hirst in any medium to enter the collection.
British Paintings Highlights
Seven British paintings fill important gaps in the National Gallery of Art's collection of 128. Among these are portraits by Thomas Gainsborough of Francis Basset and his wife Frances Susanna, Lord and Lady of Dunstanville (c. 1786)―the first paired portraits by the artist to enter the collection. A dramatic seascape by Joseph Mallord William Turner, Boats Carrying out Anchors and Cables to the Dutch Men of War (c. 1804), is the earliest painting by the English master to join NGA's important Turner collection.
Dutch Paintings Highlights
Twelve paintings from the Corcoran's William A. Clark Collection augment the National Gallery of Art's Dutch collection of 232. Among these are a number of exceptional landscapes, particularly Aelbert Cuyp's Landscape with Herdsmen (1650–1652), which was featured in NGA's 2001 Cuyp retrospective. This beautifully preserved work will join six other outstanding paintings by the master, making the collection one of the best in the world. Two stunning landscapes by Jan van Goyen―View of Dordrecht from the North (1651) and his panoramic View of Rhenen (1646), one of the finest works by this artist in the United States―will double the size of the Gallery's collection of paintings by this important artist. Aert van der Neer's Winter in Holland: Skating Scene (1645) adds a fourth painting of Dutch skating scenes to the collection.
The Corcoran collection is also rich in paintings by Leiden artists. Gerrit Dou's Bust of a Man (c. 1635–1640) adds an early oil by this Leiden master that is very different in character from the Gallery's late depiction of a hermit from 1670. The Lesson (c. 1650–1655), an engaging early work by Frans van Mieris, will be the first work by this renowned Leiden artist in NGA's collection. Jan Steen's Ascagnes and Lucelle, The Music Lesson (1667) makes a wonderful counterpart to The Dancing Couple (1663), NGA's large masterpiece by the artist.
Finally, Rembrandt's Man with Sheet of Music (1633), and Constantijn Daniel van Renesse's Conviviality Near the Inn (early 1650s) add to the Gallery's major holdings of works by Rembrandt and his followers.
French Paintings Highlights
Seventy-eight works from the Corcoran will expand the range and depth of the National Gallery of Art's renowned collection of 614 French paintings, which is especially strong in impressionism and post-impressionism.
While the NGA has significant holdings of works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, its representation of the Barbizon school is now enhanced by additional paintings, most notably Corot's memorable nude, Repose (1860, reworked c. 1865–1870); as well as four works by Charles-François Daubigny, two by Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, and four by Constant Troyon.
Bridging late Barbizon with impressionism are several fine examples of French realist painting, including At the Print Stand (c. 1860) and At the Gallery Drouot (n.d.) by Honoré Daumier, Gustave Courbet's Ornans, Birthplace of the Artist (n.d.), and three works by Henri Fantin-Latour.
One of the world's best collections of impressionism will be augmented by Edgar Degas's The Dance Class (c. 1873), which has been on view in the popular NGA exhibition Degas's Little Dancer that closes February 8; Camille Pissarro's The Louvre, Afternoon, Rainy Weather (1900); Auguste Renoir's View From Cap Martin of Monte Carlo (c. 1884); Alfred Sisley's Marly-le-Roi (c. 1875); Claude Monet's The Willows (1880); and Mary Cassatt's Young Girl at a Window (c. 1883–1884).
Eugène Delacroix's masterful Tiger and Snake (1862) comes to the collection with several of NGA's first oil paintings by his contemporary Eugène Isabey. Jean Siméon Chardin's tender 1738 portrait of a scullery maid will join a wall of paintings by Chardin, which already represents one of the largest collections of this artist's paintings in America. A 1782 portrait of Madame du Barry joins two paintings by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun already in the collection.
From the academic school comes a magnificent series of six panels depicting events in the life of Joan of Arc painted by Louis Maurice Boutet de Monvel in the early 1900s, as well as works by Léon Bonnat, Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton, Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret, and Henri Regnault.
Italian Paintings Highlights
Very few Italian paintings were donated by Senator Clark or acquired by the Corcoran. The most outstanding work among the National Gallery of Art acquisitions is The Agony in the Garden, The Crucifixion, and the Descent into Limbo (1380s) created by Andrea di Vanni with egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel. Considered the artist's most successful surviving work, the three panels depict consecutive scenes from the Passion of Christ. The intimate masterpiece was probably once used in homes or family chapels for personal devotion.
Sculpture and Decorative Arts Highlights
The National Gallery of Art's collection of 2,962 works of pre-modern sculpture, including decorative arts and medals, will be joined by 564 pieces from the Corcoran that will particularly augment its holdings by 19th and early 20th-century American masters. The star is a rare early example of the most famous 19th-century American statue in marble, The Greek Slave (modeled 1841–1843, carved 1846) by Hiram Powers, currently on view in American Masterworks from the Corcoran, 1815–1940. Its classically serene beauty won new international respect for American culture in its time. Fine casts of two of the most admired bronzes celebrating the American West by Frederic Remington, The Mountain Man (1903) and Off the Range (Coming through the Rye) (modeled 1902; cast 1903) are the first works by the artist to enter NGA's collection. Off the Range is also on view in the American Masterworks installation.
Among the many bronzes by Paul Manship is a life size version of his Dancer and Gazelles (modeled by February 1916; cast by December 1917). Three portrait reliefs, a bust, and an example of the famous bronze high relief of a standing draped woman, Amor Caritas, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens expand NGA's holding of works by this leading American Renaissance master. Additionally, three reliefs by Thomas Eakins will join NGA's ten paintings and one sculpture by him.
An important group of works by late 19th and early 20th-century American women sculptors include approximately 12 bronzes of youthful and maternal women by Bessie Potter Vonnoh; Slavonic Dancer (modeled 1921; cast 1921–1927) by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth; six animal bronzes by Anna Hyatt Huntington; and portraits of the ballerina Anna Pavlova by Rodin's pupil Malvina Cornell Hoffman.
Some sculptures have strong associations with the city of Washington, D.C. The bronze Indian Pursuing Buffalo (1916) by Alexander Phimister Proctor recalls that artist's imposing buffalo statues on Dumbarton Bridge (1914/1915) to Georgetown. Works by Daniel Chester French―celebrated sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial statue and the figures on the Dupont Circle Fountain―include the monumental marble group The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men That They Were Fair (1923). An earlier large-scale marble statue, Peri at the Gates of Paradise (modeled 1854, carved by 1859), is the second work in NGA's collection by Thomas Crawford, who made the original model for the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol. Several bronzes and plasters will come from another important sculptor who cast that statue, Clark Mills, the self-taught creator of the first American bronze equestrian statue, Andrew Jackson, found in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Eight bronzes by Paul Wayland Bartlett include a smaller version (1923) of his nine-foot-tall statue of the English jurist Sir William Blackstone that looks across Pennsylvania Avenue just east of Judiciary Square.
European sculptures include two marble works by Auguste Rodin: Eve (c. 1881) and Paolo and Francesca (c. 1909), both conceptions stemming from his Gates of Hell; the mysterious and popular Italian bust known as The Veiled Nun (c. 1860) and a complete set of 120 animal, historical, and mythical bronzes by Antoine-Louis Barye, which will invite comparison with 23 examples in NGA's collection. Works by and after the great French portrait sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon include busts of John Paul Jones and Joel Barlow and masks of George Washington.
The Corcoran's 13th-century stained glass windows from Soissons Cathedral will eventually be installed among works from the National Gallery of Art's great Widener collection of medieval and Renaissance decorative arts. Further enhancing that collection are four early 16th-century Flemish tapestries of pastoral and hunting subjects that are sometimes interpreted as royal political allegories.
In the early 20th century Senator Clark amassed one of the most important collections of Italian Renaissance maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware), 100 pieces of which will quadruple NGA's own fine holdings of these colorfully decorated ceramics. In addition, examples of the French pottery associated with Bernard Palissy, with his penchant for casts of snakes, lizards, and frogs, will extend the range of NGA's ceramic holdings, as will 18th-century earthenware with ornamental and scenic painting from Delft in Holland.
Decorative arts from the century of the French and American revolutions include a silver teapot by the patriot silversmith Paul Revere and the Clock of the Vestals Carrying the Sacred Fire (1789), with bronze figures by Pierre-Philippe Thomire and clockwork by Robert Robin.
The Gallery's renowned collection of European medals will be significantly enriched by the addition of 114 American medals from the Corcoran. Medals by important sculptors such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Adolph Weinman, and Paul Manship will contribute to an understanding of their art in larger reliefs and statues.
Highlights of Modern Art
Among 208 works of modern art―including paintings and sculpture, as well as works in other media from the early 20th century to the present―are major additions to the National Gallery of Art's holdings of 1,713 works. They include Cy Twombly's Synopsis of a Battle (1968), Andy Warhol's 1973 portrait of Mao, Georgia O'Keeffe's Wall with Green Door (1953), Willem de Kooning's Untitled IV (1979), Mark Rothko's Mulberry and Brown (1958), Bruce Nauman's SWEET SUITE SUBSTITUTE (1968/1982), and Pablo Picasso's A Glass on a Table (1913).
The Corcoran's works will significantly expand NGA's holdings by younger artists. Eight of them are under 50 and include Lionel Bawden, Iona Rozeal Brown, Loris Cecchini, Sean Cordeiro, Jonas Dahlberg, Rob Fischer, Claire Healy, and Molly Larkey.
Works by renowned artists from three American regional schools will allow the Gallery to represent more of the variety of American work produced in the 20th century beyond the major art centers of New York and Los Angeles. These include several Gallery firsts, such as four paintings by (San Francisco) Bay Area artist David Park. Two works by Park's colleague Richard Diebenkorn include NGA's first painting from the renowned Ocean Park series. Works by a group of artists loosely known as the Chicago Imagists―Roger Brown, Jim Nutt, H. C. Westermann, and Karl Wirsumand―use funky, sometimes grotesque or surreal imagery leavened with humor. These artists worked against prevailing taste and opened new avenues of expression. Apart from Westermann, they were not previously represented in the NGA's collection.
NGA's Washington Color School holdings are strengthened with a significant group of nine works spanning the career of Gene Davis, including Black Popcorn (1965), as well as three works by Sam Gilliam, five by Thomas Downing, two by Howard Mehring, and one each by Kenneth Noland, Paul Reed, and Kenneth Young. Other notable artists associated with the Richmond/Washington/Baltimore region include Elizabeth Catlett, William Christenberry, Lois Mailou Jones, and Anne Truitt.
New works by 24 African American modern and contemporary artists such as Richmond Barthé, Iona Rozeal Brown, Robert Colescott, William Edmondson, Simon Gouverneur, Oliver Jackson, Hughie Lee-Smith, Marion Perkins, Noah Purifoy, Martin Puryear, Ernest T. Ross, Raymond Saunders, Sylvia Snowden, Renée Stout, Bob Thompson, and Barbara Tyson-Mosley will add strength and depth to NGA's collection.
The National Gallery of Art will be adding an impressive number of works by 35 modern and contemporary women artists, including Anni Albers, Lee Bontecou, Janet Fish, Nancy Graves, Grace Hartigan, Mary Heilmann, Jenny Holzer, Yayoi Kusama, Lee Lozano, Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson, Kay Sage, Joan Snyder, and Jessica Stockholder. On April 2, 2015, Stockholder, whose work is entering the collection for the first time, will deliver the annual Elson Lecture at 3:30 pm in the West Building Lecture Hall. The Elson Lecture series features distinguished contemporary artists whose work is represented in NGA's permanent collection. Admission is free and seating is limited.
While the Corcoran was not known for collecting early 20th century art, several masterpieces will be added by artists such as Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Frantisek Kupka, Jacques Lipchitz, and Elie Nadelman. Gaps in the modern collection are filled with NGA's first mature painting by Davis and its first free-standing sculptures by Lipchitz and Nadelman.
Highlights of Photography Acquisitions
One of the Corcoran's most important photography collections—its rare and nearly complete set of Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion series, acquired in 1887—will be coming to the National Gallery of Art. Including 689 prints, this is one of the largest holdings in existence of this seminal work. Also coming is Timothy H. O'Sullivan and William Bell's superb album of photographs of the American West made between 1871 and 1873 on three surveys led by Lt. George M. Wheeler and acquired by the Corcoran in 1886. These works by Muybridge, O'Sullivan, and Bell will significantly expand NGA's holdings of 19th-century American photographs.
Other major highlights among almost 1,886 acquisitions of photographs include Man Ray's provocative portrait of Lee Miller from 1931, the first portrait of Miller to enter the NGA's collection. Two vintage prints of Paris by André Kertész made in the early 1930s, Helen Levitt's portrait of Walker Evans from about 1940, and Harry Callahan's color photographs made between the 1940s and 1970s, along with work by Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, and Robert Frank, will greatly augment the large standing collections of work by these photographers. Four photographs by James VanDerZee, including his portrait of Marcus Garvey, will also complement five works by this important African American portrait photographer in NGA's holdings.
The Corcoran's holdings of photographs from the 1960s through the 1990s—especially its collections of photojournalism and social documentary photographs—will significantly expand the National Gallery of Art's collection in these areas. Distinguished additions include 12 photographs by Danny Lyon, many made in the early 1960s of the civil rights movement; six works by Roy DeCarava, such as Boy in a Print Shirt (1978); seven works by Gilles Peress, including NORTHERN IRELAND, Belfast, Summer evening (1989); and photographs by Flor Garduño, Mary Ellen Mark, and Graciela Iturbide. In addition, 55 photographs by the important American photojournalist Gordon Parks and all of the photographs by Jim Goldberg included in his 1995 book, Raised by Wolves (also an exhibition at the Corcoran) are coming to NGA.
Other significant additions include a suite of 25 photographs from Lewis Baltz's seminal 1971 series The Tract House; a rare early self portrait by Sally Mann from 1976; Laurie Simmons' 1987 gelatin silver print, Walking Camera (Jimmy the Camera); Lorna Simpson's 1991 Coiffure, a triptych of gelatin silver prints and ten engraved plastic plaques; Chuck Close's daguerreotype portraits Cindy Sherman and Self-Portrait, both from 2000; and Hiroshi Sugimoto's Oscar Wilde (2000), all of which complement works by these artists already in the collection. Artists new to the collection include Lalla Essaydi, Mary Ellen Mark, Paul Outerbridge, P. H. Polk, Sandy Skoglund, Larry Sultan, and Hank Willis Thomas, among others.
Key works by artists from the 1970s and 1980s who were among the first to explore the artistic potential of color photography will be coming to NGA. These include a major group of 27 photographs by William Eggleston, such as Memphis (1969–1970), and Red Ceiling (1972), along with pictures by Jo Ann Callis, Jan Groover, and Barbara Kasten. Thirty-two photographs, including 31 Cent Gasoline Sign, Near Greensboro, Alabama (1964), and 5 ¢ Sign, Demopolis, Alabama (1978), by the internationally acclaimed Washington, D.C. artist and former Corcoran professor William Christenberry were also acquired, as were works by some 22 D.C. area photographers such as Chan Chao, John Gossage, and Joseph Mills.
The Krazyhouse (Megan, Simon, Nicky, Philip, Dee), Liverpool, UK, Rineke Dijkstra's four-channel video installation created in 2009 is a substantial addition to NGA's collection of media arts, and augments the Gallery's recently acquired I See a Woman Crying (Weeping Woman), 2009, a three-channel video by Dijkstra.
Several of these photographs will be included in the upcoming exhibition In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art, on view from May 23 through July 26, 2015. Many more will be presented in an exhibition opening in March 2016 that will demonstrate how the addition of the Corcoran's photography collection complements and expands NGA's holdings.
Corcoran Curatorial Records and Historical Archives
The National Gallery of Art acquired the curatorial records for the entire Corcoran collection. Once the files are processed, an announcement will be made as to their availability by appointment. No final decision has been made regarding the historical archives that are currently in the custody of the Trustees of the Corcoran, although NGA is allowed to make duplicates of archival records as needed.
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