EMMA AMOS, “The Reader,” 1967 (oil on canvas in artist’s frame, 41 1/4 × 61 inches). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE Gallery, New York
A PORTRAIT of a Harlem suit shop owner by Jordan Casteel is on view in the 1940s to Now collection galleries at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Nathaniel Mary Quinn are on display, too. The paintings were installed recently and are among a slate of new acquisitions at the Bentonville, Ark. museum, nearly all of them by African American artists.
Crystal Bridges announced the addition of 29 historic and contemporary artworks to its permanent collection on Thursday. The acquisitions include works by Casteel, Quinn, Wiley, Emma Amos, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Loie Hollowell, and 23 works from the Gordon W. Bailey collection by artists such as Clementine Hunter, Thornton Dial, Sam Doyle, Ronald Lockett, and Purvis Young.
“We’re grateful to be able to highlight and celebrate this array of inspiring works, primarily by African American artists, who have made important contributions to the American art historical canon,” Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said in a statement. “These works deepen our understanding of our country’s rich and complex history.”
“We’re grateful to be able to highlight and celebrate this array of inspiring works, primarily by African American artists, who have made important contributions to the American art historical canon. These works deepen our understanding of our country’s rich and complex history.”
— Rod Bigelow, Executive Director & Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
New acquisition highlights include:
- “The Reader” (1967) by Emma Amos | A self portrait, “The Reader” is part of a suite of paintings by Amos that she has referred to as “attitude paintings.” The artist depicts herself reading, a lone figure in an otherwise abstract composition of colored planes. Amos contributed to the landmark, international traveling exhibition “Soul of a Nation,” presented at Crystal Bridges in 2018.
“Dave Forsythe” (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn | The painting depicts a friend in the artist’s signature style—a composite portrait that reads as collage and “speaks to the individual complexity of the person he portrays.”
“Portrait of a Florentine Nobleman” (2018) by Kehinde Wiley | Shontay Haynes of St. Louis is the subject of the work. Based on Francesco Salviati’s 16th-century painting, the portrait is one of 11 commissioned by the Saint Louis Art Museum for the artist’s recent exhibition “Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis.” He cast all the subjects from St. Louis and Ferguson.
“The Good Shepherd” (1917) by Henry Ossawa Tanner | The painting, which “represents Tanner’s mature painting style and religious subjects deeply rooted in his own faith,” will be displayed in the museum’s Early American Art Galleries this fall.
The Bailey Collection | Works acquired include a procession scene, titled “Baptism,” painted in the 1950s by Hunter; “Dr. Crow,” a figure painted on corrugated metal by Doyle; and a 53-page book of mixed-media works by Young.
A Los Angeles-based scholar and collector, Bailey focuses on so-called self-taught Southern artists, primarily African American figures. The acquisition includes 23 works by 14 artists. In addition to Hunter, Dial, Doyle, Lockett, and Young, the following artists are represented: Leroy Almon, Josephus Farmer, Roy Ferdinand, Harry Lieberman, Joe Light, J.B. Murray, Sulton Rogers, Herbert Singleton, and Welmon Sharlhome. Bailey gifted some of the works to the museum and others were acquired through gift/purchase arrangements.
Bailey has also donated dozens of artworks to other museums in recent years, including the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., and Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). The exhibition “What Carried Us Over: Gifts from Gordon W. Bailey, opened this week at PAMM.
At Crystal Bridges, a forthcoming exhibition will be dedicated to a selection from the Bailey collection and other works will be rotated into the museum’s collection galleries.
FOUNDED IN 2005, Crystal Bridges is a young museum. It had yet to be established when other longstanding museums were virtually ignoring the work of African American artists. Key acquisitions of choice works over the past decade or so, demonstrate that diversity and quality are collection priorities at the Arkansas institution.
Julie Mehretu’s “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation” (2001) is one of the museum’s largest works on canvas (and the second most expensive work by the artist at auction). The collection boasts “Our Town” (1995) by Kerry James Marshall, along with six studies for the monumental painting that is part of his renowned Garden Project series. The museum also owns, “Black Unity” (1968), a powerful, two-sided, cedar wood sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett featured in the traveling exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.”
The collection exhibition where Casteel’s painting is on view is also showcasing works by Mel Edwards, Vanessa L. German, Felrath Hines, Titus Kaphar, Alvin Loving, and “Lunar Rendezvous—Circle of Flowers” (1969) by Alma Thomas. Important paintings by Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden are displayed in another collection gallery. Nari Ward’s “We the People” installation composed of hanging shoelaces is also on view.
“The museum is fully committed to diversifying our collection to better reflect a broad range of perspectives and experiences,” chief curator Austen Barron Bailly said in a statement. “Each new acquisition advances the conversation about American art in ways that are representative of more of the American people and their stories.” CT
JORDAN CASTEEL, “Ourlando,” 2018 (oil on canvas, 90 inches × 78 1/8 inches × 1 1/2 inches / 228.6 × 198.4 × 3.8 cm). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2019.16
NATHANIEL MARY QUINN, “Dave Forsythe,” 2019 (oil paint, paint stick, gouache, black charcoal, soft pastel, oil pastel on linen canvas, stretched over wood panel, 48 inches × 48 inches × 1 5/8 inches / 121.9 × 121.9 × 4.1 cm). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Gift of Jennifer and Matthew Harris, 2019.7
KEHINDE WILEY, “Portrait of a Florentine Nobleman,” 2018 (oil on linen, 96 × 72 inches / 243.8 × 182.9 cm, Framed: 107 inches × 83 1/4 inches × 6 inches). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2019.14
HENRY OSSAWA TANNER, “The Good Shepherd,” 1917 (oil on canvas, 25 1/2 × 32 inches / 64.8 × 81.3 cm). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2019.5
SAM DOYLE, “Dr. Crow,” circa 1982-1984 (house paint on metal, 45 × 26 1/2 inches / 114.3 × 67.3 cm). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Gift of Gordon W. Bailey, 2018.20
THORNTON DIAL SR., “Cocaine Dog,” 1980s (mixed media, 39 × 64 × 35 inches / 99.1 × 162.6 × 88.9 cm). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Gift of Gordon W. Bailey and Museum purchase, 2018.28
CLEMENTINE HUNTER, “Baptism,” 1950s (oil on board, 18 × 24 inches). | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Gift of Gordon W. Bailey and Museum purchase. Photo by Gordon W Bailey Collection
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