Wangechi Mutu, Judith Linhares, and Zanele Muholi Included in More than 100 Works Added to PAFA's Permanent Collection
PHILADELPHIA (March 26, 2019) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) announced the addition of 130 historic, modern, and contemporary works to its permanent collection of American art at a meeting of the Board of Trustees on March 7, 2019. Seventy-eight of the works are paintings, works on paper, and sculptures primarily by African American artists gifted to PAFA from the collection of a prominent American educator, civic leader and arts advocate Dr. Constance E. Clayton (b. 1933).
"The museum is thrilled with these new additions to the permanent collection, which illustrate our relationships with both patrons and artists," said Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum.
The newest acquisitions and gifts—many of them by women, artists of color, and artists not frequently seen in museums—include The Annunciation, undated, a painting by the artist George Hitchcock (1850–1913), completed between 1890 and 1909, and gifted to PAFA by the Ball Family in the Philadelphia area. Hitchcock was represented by Annunciation scenes in major exhibitions throughout his career, and this version of The Annunciation appeared in PAFA's 1909 exhibition.
"George Hitchcock was one of the most cosmopolitan and highly regarded artists of his age," said Dr. Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historical American Art. "I'm particularly happy to welcome this painting back to PAFA more than 100 years after it was last exhibited and to hang it in the same gallery it was hung in 1909 (in PAFA's salon gallery), based on photo documentation housed in PAFA's recently digitized Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives."
PAFA also received a donation of a cache of works by the artist William J. Glackens (1870–1938), including his palette and an important sketchbook that reveals Glackens' working progress in painting The Soda Fountain (1935).
"I'm delighted to add this sketchbook by Glackens for his important painting in our collection, The Soda Fountain," Marley said. "It reveals the artist's working process in a way that will be fascinating for both the public and our students."
Highlights in the latest group of gifts and purchases include Untitled (Kitchen interior with figures; verso: house in color), a drawing by James Castle (1899–1977), a self-taught artist known for his drawings, artist books, and constructions made primarily with soot, spit, and homemade tools, and a large-scale work on paper by artist Judy Pfaff (b. 1946).
PAFA also acquired Cardigan Worn by Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp Activist as She Left Holloway Prison, Charged with Social Disruption for the Second Time in Two Months, Winter 1983 (2009), by artist Ellen Lesperance (b. 1971), and If we live through it, She'll carry us back (2014), a major collage painting by artist Wangechi Mutu (b.1972).
Known to create large-scale collage works that subvert preconceptions of the female form, this narrative work by Mutu overthrows traditional representations of migration and movement, themes predominantly depicting Western colonization as exploration.
"It's an honor to continue building PAFA's esteemed collection," said Jodi Throckmorton, Curator of Contemporary Art. "I'm especially pleased to add such an important work by an artist like Wangechi Mutu, whose work challenges and expands our collection in myriad ways."
PAFA purchased four works from artist Charles Gaines' (b. 1944) Numbers and Trees, Tiergarten Series 3 (2018), as part of its ongoing partnership with the Berkeley-based studio, Paulson Fontaine Press. This series marked the inaugural collaboration between Gaines and Paulson Fontaine Press. Last June, PAFA announced a relationship with Paulson Fontaine Press to be the only East Coast repository for all of its prints by African American artists.
Often utilizing grids to create images, Gaines began the series in 1985, working from photographs of specific trees in various parks and natural environments. The trees are a combination of diversely painted squares that are numbered according to their location on acrylic sheets.
PAFA also acquired the prints Sidelined and Water and Air (2018), by artist Samuel Levi Jones (b. 1978), from the Paulson Fontaine Press.
Other highlights among the acquisitions:
An image by California artist Michael Light (b. 1963), Los Angeles 07.27.05: Untitled/Stars (2007), a photograph showcasing Los Angeles from the sky, depicting the city at night.
Beach (2019), by artist Judith Linhares (b.1940), a painting that depicts a surreal, blissful utopia, a powerfully illusive image of man, woman, and animal.
Three mixed media prints by John & Richanda Rhoden (1916/18–2001, 1917–2016). Last year, the Academy took responsibility for more than 275 works by African American sculptor John Rhoden. In addition to Rhoden's artwork, PAFA also received $5 million to fund a curator of the collection, organize a traveling exhibition, publish a major book about the artist, and facilitate the placement of his work into major museum collections throughout the United States.
Two gelatin silver prints and 11 archival inkjet prints from the Women's Mobile Museum portfolio (2018). The Women's Mobile Museum is the artist and visual activist Zanele Muholi's (b. 1972) yearlong residency and collaboration with eleven Philadelphia-based female artists, ranging from poets to painters, culminating in a series of exhibitions in conjunction with the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC). PAFA is currently exhibiting work from the Women's Mobile Museum through March 31, 2019.
"We are thrilled that our community partnerships have not only benefited our audiences but have now also enhanced our permanent collection," Anderson said.
Throckmorton added: "We are grateful to the PPAC for allowing us to take part in their extraordinary Women's Mobile Museum project. I'm especially pleased that this exhibition will now have a lasting legacy as part of our permanent collection—thanks to the generosity of the PPAC."
Growing and diversifying its permanent collection through gifts and purchases is a key focus of PAFA's mission. The purchases are made through collections endowments and dedicated collections funds, as well as gifts from PAFA patrons.