“Gift/Deeds: Collectors at PAFA” Exhibition Series, Features 20th Century and Contemporary Art Selections Gifted to PAFA
PHILADELPHIA - June 30 2022 - The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is pleased to present, “Gift/Deeds: Collectors at PAFA,” an exhibition of 20th century and contemporary art gifted to PAFA’s permanent collection by six significant and influential Philadelphia art collectors. The exhibition features six installations that will open throughout the summer of 2022, each devoted to a different PAFA collector. The full series will remain on view until January 8, 2023, in PAFA’s Historic Landmark Building.
The first installation, “The Robert and Frances Coulborn Kohler Collection,” opened May 20, 2022, and is currently on view. “The Ofelia Garcia Collection,” opening June 30, 2022, is the second collection in the ongoing six-part series, which is curated by Dr. Brittany Webb, the Evelyn and Will Kaplan Curator of Twentieth-Century Art and the John Rhoden Collection.
The exhibition highlights the importance of these collections and how they have strengthened PAFA’s permanent collection. Each artwork has been gifted or promised to the museum by visionary, private collectors who are guided in their collecting practice by their intellectual interests, activist impulses, and passions. By gifting these important works of art to PAFA, the collectors have the pleasure of knowing the work will delight and inspire museum visitors now and for generations to come. They also have the confidence of knowing the artwork will be well cared for. Through a series of good deeds – acquiring, loving, and gifting works of art for the benefit of the wider public – these collectors have expanded the breadth of American artists represented in PAFA’s collection.
“It is remarkable that these generous art collectors have the foresight and vision to share their prized collections with the general public, and that PAFA is able to celebrate and showcase the work of great American artists,” said Eric Pryor, president and CEO of PAFA. “My deepest and most sincere thanks go to each of them, as they have chosen and entrusted us to not only care for their own collections but also to continue our mission to be a steward of great American art.”
“This exhibition series is a true celebration of generosity as we highlight the gifts these collectors have so graciously chosen to share with PAFA,” said Dr. Brittany Webb. “They have been important members of the PAFA community over the years, and we are honored that they have chosen PAFA to care for and promote scholarship on this artwork into the future. It is especially meaningful that many of the works of art included in these collections were created by historically underrepresented artists. PAFA is grateful to be in community with collectors dedicated to celebrating overlooked stories in American Art.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the unique approach and story each collector took in forming their collection. Some focused on adventurous approaches to the figure and print medium, others looked to acquire some of the most celebrated names in American art, or chose to support artists overlooked by mainstream critics and institutions. Each collection will be displayed in its own dedicated gallery space; the full “Gift/Deeds: Collectors at PAFA” exhibition series and opening dates include:
- “The Robert and Frances Coulborn Kohler Collection,” currently on display
- “The Ofelia Garcia Collection,” opening June 30, 2022
- “The Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin Collection,” opening August 4, 2022
- “The Bernice McIlhenny Wintersteen Collection,” opening August 11, 2022
- “Sculpture from the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women,” opening August 25, 2022
- “Abstraction in the Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African American Art,” opening August 25, 2022
About Robert and Frances Coulborn Kohler, collection currently on display
Robert, and his late wife, Frances Coulborn Kohler, served artists as collectors, advocates and institutional ambassadors. In the late 1960s, they began collecting with a preference for works that creatively engaged the human figure. Their commitment to artists is reflected in their tendency to purchase several works of art by an artist over time, and PAFA’s permanent collection has benefited from their generosity and is home to more than 70 works of art collected by the Kohlers.
About Ofelia Garcia, collection opening June 30, 2022
A Cuban-born, Philadelphia-based collector, Ofelia Garcia began gifting artwork from her collection to PAFA nearly a decade ago. Having been a professor, university dean, curator, faculty critic, institutional leader and an artist herself, she has a uniquely broad commitment to the arts and is behind approximately 120 works of art in the permanent collection. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association’s Women’s Caucus for Art in 2011, and continues to serve the arts communities in which she’s embedded.
About Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin, collection opening August 4, 2022
Dedicated supporters of the arts, Meyer and Vivian Potamkin began collecting art in the early years of their marriage, developing a passion that resulted in one of the country’s great private collections of American Art. The generous Philadelphia-based couple often made their collection accessible to scholars and institutions and in regular loans to major exhibitions. The Potamkins gifted 39 works of art to PAFA.
About Bernice McIlhenny Wintersteen, collection opening August 11, 2022
Artist and PAFA alumna, Bernice McIlhenny Wintersteen served the Philadelphia area as a great art collector and institutional ambassador who served as both the first woman board chair and the first woman president of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She was responsible for gifting 21 works of art to PAFA, including well-known artists like Winslow Homer, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol.
About Linda Lee Alter, collection opening August 25, 2022
A Philadelphia native and graduate from the Philadelphia College of Art, Linda Lee Alter has been a professional fine artist, collector and teacher for more than half a century. Throughout her lifetime serving the arts, she has worked as a commercial artist and a display artist, illustrated children’s books, and taught arts and crafts. Speaking through art has always been her form of communication, and she has contributed 500 works of art to PAFA.
About Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti, collection opening August 25, 2022
The Sorgenti Collection is traced to the early 1980s when ARCO Chemical Company, under Harold Sorgenti's leadership, underwent a period of tremendous growth and formed an art collection that reflected a culture of inclusion in the organization. When ARCO Chemical was sold in 1998, Harold Sorgenti and his wife Ann purchased the collection from the company and donated it to PAFA. Through this gift giving, and through the Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti Fund for African American Art, Hal and Ann Sorgenti made a gift of 93 works of art. The gift dramatically increased PAFA's representation of contemporary African-American artists.
PAFA thanks Linda Lee Alter, Ofelia Garcia, Robert and Frances Coulborn Kohler, Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin, Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti, and Bernice McIlhenny Wintersteen for their generosity in donating for this exhibition.
About the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Maxfield Parrish, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch and Henry Ossawa Tanner. Learn more at PAFA.org.