Isaac Sutton/Ebony Collection/Johnson Publishing

Acquisitions

Top five acquisitions of the month

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Our pick of the latest gifts and purchases to enter museum collections—from a compendium of African American history to the vast archive of an expelled Surrealist

The National Trust has given around 5,000 works on paper and nine paintings by the British artist and writer Ithell Colquhoun to the Tate. They are now reunited with Colquhoun’s occult archive, which she bequeathed to the museum upon her death in 1988. Among the acquisitions are sketchbooks, architectural drawings, illustrations for poetry and works demonstrating Colquhoun’s turn towards Surrealism in the 1930s. Just a year after joining the British branch of the movement in 1939, she was expelled for pursuing her interest in the occult. Selected items from the new collection will be available to researchers at Tate Britain’s reading rooms from November.
Works on paper and paintings by Ithell Colquhoun. Tate, London

The National Trust has given around 5,000 works on paper and nine paintings by the British artist and writer Ithell Colquhoun to the Tate. They are now reunited with Colquhoun’s occult archive, which she bequeathed to the museum upon her death in 1988. Among the acquisitions are sketchbooks, architectural drawings, illustrations for poetry and works demonstrating Colquhoun’s turn towards Surrealism in the 1930s. Just a year after joining the British branch of the movement in 1939, she was expelled for pursuing her interest in the occult. Selected items from the new collection will be available to researchers at Tate Britain’s reading rooms from November.

The J. Paul Getty Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation together bought the photography archive of the Chicago-based publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines for $30m. The magazines “were beacons to black people”, says the lawyer George Fatheree, who advised the Getty Trust on participating in the bankruptcy auction in July. With more than four million photographs and 10,000 hours of video, the archive spans eight decades, portraying entertainers, athletes and politicians, as well as pivotal historical moments. The foundations plan to catalogue and digitise the materials and donate portions to institutions including the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute. N.K.
Johnson Publishing photography archive. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC and Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

The J. Paul Getty Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation together bought the photography archive of the Chicago-based publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines for $30m. The magazines “were beacons to black people”, says the lawyer George Fatheree, who advised the Getty Trust on participating in the bankruptcy auction in July. With more than four million photographs and 10,000 hours of video, the archive spans eight decades, portraying entertainers, athletes and politicians, as well as pivotal historical moments. The foundations plan to catalogue and digitise the materials and donate portions to institutions including the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York says a “transformative” gift of 45 works of contemporary African art from the collector Jean Pigozzi will make it a “unique institutional leader” in that field. Among the highlights is Alphabet bété (1991), described by the curator Sarah Suzuki as a “magnificent landmark work”, in which the Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré created a pictographic alphabet with 449 individual drawings. Another standout is Water Problem (2004), Chéri Samba’s environmentally themed painting of himself seeking new sources of water in space. MoMA says the gift will play an important role in the reinstallation of its permanent collection in expanded galleries in October.
Contemporary African works from the collection of Jean Pigozzi. Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York says a “transformative” gift of 45 works of contemporary African art from the collector Jean Pigozzi will make it a “unique institutional leader” in that field. Among the highlights is Alphabet bété (1991), described by the curator Sarah Suzuki as a “magnificent landmark work”, in which the Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré created a pictographic alphabet with 449 individual drawings. Another standout is Water Problem (2004), Chéri Samba’s environmentally themed painting of himself seeking new sources of water in space. MoMA says the gift will play an important role in the reinstallation of its permanent collection in expanded galleries in October.

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has received 106 works of late 19th- and early 20th-century French art from Marlene Hays, which she collected with her late husband Spencer. The gift follows the Texan couple’s donation of 187 mainly post-Impressionist works in 2016. The second gift comprises 40 paintings by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis and Édouard Vuillard; 47 drawings that complement the museum’s collection, including a study for Édouard Manet’s masterpiece The Balcony (1868-69); and 19 sculptures. In 2016, the couple pledged to give their entire collection of more than 600 works to the museum upon their deaths.
Works of late 19th- and early 20th-century French art. Musée d’Orsay, Paris

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has received 106 works of late 19th- and early 20th-century French art from Marlene Hays, which she collected with her late husband Spencer. The gift follows the Texan couple’s donation of 187 mainly post-Impressionist works in 2016. The second gift comprises 40 paintings by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis and Édouard Vuillard; 47 drawings that complement the museum’s collection, including a study for Édouard Manet’s masterpiece The Balcony (1868-69); and 19 sculptures. In 2016, the couple pledged to give their entire collection of more than 600 works to the museum upon their deaths.

The Art Institute of Chicago has acquired the W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Collection of 19th-century American photographs. The collection comprises nearly 500 works, most of them daguerreotypes, including images of President Zachary Taylor, anonymous labourers and craftsmen, new settlements in Gold Rush-era California and urban buildings. One daguerreotype was donated by the Lundberg Collection, but the bulk of the acquisition was funded by a gift from the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust. A small selection of the images is due to go on view at the Art Institute on 16 November.
19th-century American photographs. Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago has acquired the W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Collection of 19th-century American photographs. The collection comprises nearly 500 works, most of them daguerreotypes, including images of President Zachary Taylor, anonymous labourers and craftsmen, new settlements in Gold Rush-era California and urban buildings. One daguerreotype was donated by the Lundberg Collection, but the bulk of the acquisition was funded by a gift from the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust. A small selection of the images is due to go on view at the Art Institute on 16 November.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 315 September 2019