Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Friday announced a number of new art acquisitions, including Helen Frankenthaler's "Seven Types of Ambiguity" and Robert Rauschenberg's "The Tower," along with a reinstallation of its contemporary art gallery.
The acquisitions, which The New York Times valued at $20 million, join Georgia O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1," which sold for a record-setting $44.4 million at Sotheby's in November, more than three times the previous record for a work by a woman artist. The Bentonville museum revealed that it had bought Jimson Weed in an announcement last week.
The acquisitions announced Friday bolster the museum's collection of postwar art and will be displayed in its "1940s to Now" gallery. That gallery had been closed to permit the removal of the museum's popular State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now exhibition, which was the museum's best attended exhibit since its opening in November 2011.
The "1940s to Now" gallery will be reopened later this month and will include 71 pieces from the 1940s to the present.
"This debut represents the first major reinstallation of a permanent collection gallery since the museum's opening in November 2011," Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow said Friday in a museum statement. "Recently acquired artworks exhibited along with some of our visitor favorites offer the opportunity to share new insights into the story of America as seen through its great works of art. We're pleased to offer this broader context and new works to engage and intrigue visitors."
In addition to Frankenthaler's "Seven Types of Ambiguity," Crystal Bridges bought four other Frankenthaler pieces: two major paintings, "Untitled" and "Pink Bird Figure II;" and two works on paper, "The Bullfight" and "Untitled."
The other recent acquisitions to be featured in the gallery reinstallation include Ruth Asawa's "Untitled," Allan D'Arcangelo's "My Uncle Whiskey's Bad Habit," Vija Celmins's "Untitled (Ham Hock)," Nancy Grossman's "Car Horn," Alma Thomas' "Lunar Rendezvous — Circle of Flowers," Roni Horn's "When Dickinson Shut Her Eyes No. 859: A Doubt If It Be Us," Mark Tansey's "Landscape" and Charles LeDray's "Rainbow."
The museum noted that two gifts will also debut: Brice Marden's "For Carl Andre" from an anonymous donor and Nancy Graves' "Fayum-Re," gift of Agnes Gund.
"These new acquisitions help us tell an expanded story of America that now unfolds in this gallery," said Crystal Bridges Curator Chad Alligood.
"For example, our collection already features a number of iconic Pop Art paintings from artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein that demonstrate the influence of 1960s pop culture. Now, with the addition of groundbreaking sculptural works from this period — Robert Rauschenberg's "The Tower" and Nancy Grossman's "Car Horn" — we are also able to explore artists' use of unconventional, everyday materials, showing how other American artists responded to the explosion of consumer goods during the postwar economic boom. The re-installation focuses on key moments in American history — and how works of art both reflect and shape our understanding of that history and ourselves."
The museum's acquisition of O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed" adds to its collection of O'Keeffe works and will be included in a new exhibition," Georgia O'Keeffe: See What I See," which opens March 28 in its north exhibition gallery.
"We're pleased to debut this iconic painting with our visitors, and know it will quickly become a favorite in our galleries. 'Jimson Weed' is one of the most celebrated works from the more than 200 flower paintings O’Keeffe created in her lifetime," Bigelow said last week in announcing the painting's acquisition.
In addition to the works in its O'Keeffe exhibit, two other paintings by O'Keeffe are on view in the museum as part of the Alfred Stieglitz collection. Crystal Bridges co-owns the collection with Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.