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MoMA Acquires a Collection of Rare 19th Century Photographs and Works by Richard Avedon
Harry Callahan (American, 1912-1999), Eleanor, Chicago. 1949. Gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 x 9 5/8 inches (19.4 x 24.4 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of David Dechman and Michel Mercure © 2009 The Estate of Harry Callahan.

NEW YORK, NY. The Museum of Modern Art announces two major photography acquisitions: nearly 60 rare examples of nineteenth-century photography from the Suzanne Winsberg Collection and 39 photographs by Richard Avedon. The bequest of photographs from the Suzanne Winsberg Collection—comprising works that range in date from 1847 to 1893 by artists such as Édouard-Denis Baldus, Gustave Le Gray, Nadar, Charles Nègre, Louis-Rémy Robert, and Benjamin Brecknell Turner—enriches MoMA’s holdings of nineteenth-century photography. The Richard Avedon photographs encompass the artist’s entire career and were acquired from The Richard Avedon Foundation. This acquisition more than doubles the Museum’s collection of Avedon’s work. Selections from each acquisition will be presented in the Museum’s Edward Steichen Photography Galleries beginning on August 7, 2009.

Peter Galassi, Chief Curator, Department of Photography, states: “Suzanne Winsberg was a passionate collector, and her generous bequest has brought outstanding works that greatly enhance MoMA’s collection of early French and British photography. We are very grateful as well for the cooperation of The Richard Avedon Foundation, which enabled us to realize an acquisition that I had discussed with the photographer himself, and about which he was very enthusiastic.”

Suzanne Winsberg was an avid photography collector. From the 1970s until shortly before her death in 2008, she spent much of her time in Paris, where she pursued advanced acoustical research at Pierre Boulez’s Institut de Recherche et Coordination Artistique/Musique (IRCAM). The market for photography began to blossom in the 1970s, and in Paris there emerged a sophisticated circle of dealers, collectors, scholars, and curators who passionately explored the unfolding of early French photography. Winsberg was able to form a small collection that includes more than a few works of exceptional quality. Highlights of the collection include five salted paper prints by Nadar, views of the Fontainebleau forest by Le Gray, and additional works by lesser-known artists which provide a broad view of the development of photography as an art form in the middle of the nineteenth century, shortly after the medium’s invention.

The photographs in the Richard Avedon acquisition date from 1953 to 2002. The group of works include nine photographs, taken between 1969 and 1973, that portray Avedon’s father, Jacob Israel Avedon, as his health declines. Though not currently on view, these works were first presented at MoMA in 1974. Other highlights include iconic and well-known portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Lew Alcindor (the young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Marcel Duchamp, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Malcolm X, Bob Dylan, The Chicago Seven, Veruschka, and Twiggy.

The Edward Steichen Photography Galleries on the third floor will feature highlights from these two acquisitions from August 7, 2009, to March 22, 2010. The installation opens with two galleries dedicated to the Suzanne Winsberg Collection, and concludes with a selection of portraits and fashion photography by Richard Avedon. Situated between these two installations, other works from the Museum’s collection outline a history of photography from the 1880s through the 1970s, providing a context for these two acquisitions. Selections include FSA (Farm Security Administration) photographs, all depicting various advertising, religious, and political signs; recent acquisitions by Bill Brandt, Harry Callahan, Frederick H. Evans, Philippe Halsman, and Adam Clark Vroman; and a number of other recent acquisitions. The installation is organized by Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator, Department of Photography.

Museum of Modern Art | Richard Avedon | Édouard-Denis Baldus | Gustave Le Gray | Nadar | Charles Nègre | Louis-Rémy Robert | Benjamin Brecknell Turner |

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