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UBS art goes on show at MoMA

Founder Donald Marron has been instrumental in the acquisition of classic Modern and contemporary art

This month, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opens “Contemporary voices: works from the UBS art collection” (4 February-25 April), an exhibition of 44 works from the bank which have been donated to MoMA, along with 24 additional pieces from UBS.

The 44 works selected by the museum to enhance its modern and contemporary holdings include abstract paintings by Willem de Kooning and Brice Marden, figurative paintings by Philip Guston and Chuck Close, Minimalist sculpture by Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, major works on paper by Jenny Holzer and Cy Twombly, and photographs by Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth.

The UBS collection and MoMA are connected in the person of Donald B. Marron, one of America’s most important collectors of contemporary art. As ceo and chairman of the investment bank PaineWebber (1981-2000), he founded its art collection, which is now part of the UBS collection. He is a leading figure among the founders of corporate collections.

He is also is vice-chairman of the MoMA board and has also served as president.

The UBS collection includes more than 900 works of art; over 850 were amassed during Mr Marron’s tenure, many by artists such as Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein–as well as emerging ones. UBS continues to acquire from six to over 20 wokrs every year.

A recent acquisition were some D-L Alvarez pencil drawings done in 2004 for the Derek Eller Gallery in Chelsea. While the American-born Berlin artist has yet to be the focus of a major museum show, MoMA has just bought three of his drawings. Prices for Alvarez are modest: under $10,000.

While the corporate art collection does not contain any examples of design, Mr Marron believes that the field is gaining wider interest. “Look at the MoMA design installation with Bic pens right up to a jet engine blade. MoMA will play a role in educating people about design”.