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Detroit Institute of Arts presents gift of a lifetime: The James Pearson Duffy Collection
Seated Male Nude, Marsden Hartley, 1923. Pastel on thin cream laid paper. Bequest of James Pearson Duffy. Detroit Institute of Arts.
DETROIT, MI.- The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) recently received a generous bequest and rich art collection from James Pearson Duffy, one of Detroit’s most unorthodox collectors. Gift of a Lifetime: The James Pearson Duffy Collection, on view Sept. 14, 2011–March 18, 2012, showcases this varied collection of drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs. The exhibition is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and is free with museum admission.

For 40 years, Duffy was one of the great characters of the Detroit art scene, with a free-thinking approach to looking at and acquiring art. He was often guided by his intuition, and the collection that resulted represents a variety of interests—from contemporary photography to mixed-media work by Detroit’s Cass Corridor artists, to historical Chinese ceramics.

“Jim Duffy meant a great deal to the Detroit art scene in general and to the DIA in particular,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “In recognition of his lifelong support and sizeable bequest, the DIA’s department of contemporary art is named for him. His art collection has greatly enhanced our own, and this exhibition celebrates his life and generosity with some of the artworks he so cherished and left for the enjoyment of us all.”

Duffy (1923-2009) owned and operated a successful pipefitting warehouse on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. When he wasn’t working, he was indulging his passion for art, building a collection that includes a wide range of objects. But his main passion was for contemporary art.

Duffy immersed himself in the art world and spent a good deal of time collecting in New York. He was the first to buy the now-celebrated 1970s works of Philip Guston, as well as the work of Elizabeth Murray. Among the other New York artists whose works he collected are Joel Shapiro and Linda Benglis.

The first section of Gift of a Lifetime provides the opportunity to explore the art scene of 1970s New York, when artists experimented with a variety of nontraditional materials, broke down the concept of hard-edged art as they played with geometry, and developed multiple ways of portraying figures. Among the works from this time period are Saturn by Vija Celmins, Felsztyn (Sketch) by Frank Stella and Andy Warhol’s Mao.

The second gallery focuses on Detroit. In the 1970s and 80s, a group of artists came together near Cass Avenue in Detroit to redefine what was considered aesthetically beautiful. They became known as the Cass Corridor artists, and their art was raw, gritty and unconventional—much like the city itself. Duffy was intrigued by their emotionally charged portraits, use of scavenged materials and unfinished surfaces, and he became one their biggest supporters. Works by Gordon Newton, Nancy Mitchnick, Ann Mikolowski and Sibyl Oshinsky are some of the Cass Corridor artists represented.

The third gallery offers a “look” inside Duffy’s apartment to see how he arranged his collection. One section features works that were either on display in his living room or stored in his basement gallery. As he amassed his collection, Duffy transformed his apartment into a rotating gallery, freely combining objects of varying styles and periods.

Throughout the exhibition, visitors will be encouraged to reflect on their own collections. In addition, the DIA has a Flickr page where the public can post photos and stories of items they collect.

Detroit Institute of Arts | James Pearson Duffy | Gordon Newton | Nancy Mitchnick | Ann Mikolowski | Sibyl Oshinsky |


Last Week News

September 14, 2011

Gagosian Gallery announces the death of The Father of Pop Art: Richard Hamilton

Sotheby's in New York announces sale of part III of The Collection of Allan Stone

Lost British street artist Banksy mural "Every Picture tells a lie" uncovered on Berlin galley wall

A host of dragons, buffalo, lions and horses, lead caravan of Chinese art at Bonhams

National Gallery of Art launches second edition of the Gemini G.E.L. Online Catalogue Raisonné

Sanford Biggers: Cosmic Voodoo Circus exhibit on view at SculptureCenter

In Living Color vivid post impressionist works highlight Bonhams' October prints auction

Freeman's sells $3.5 million Qing Dynasty Jade Seal, Asian Art auction realizes $8.1 million

New Orleans Museum of Art names Russell Lord new Curator of Photographs

Christie's in New York to offer rare Inglenook from Francis Ford Coppola's cellar

Valencian Institute for Modern Art exhibition opens with the work of José Manuel Ciria: The Last Decade

Exhibition of new works by artist Gordon Cheung opens at Alan Cristea Gallery

Pavel Schmidt presents Kafka cycle at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts      

One of Britain's best-loved illustrators John Burningham at The Fleming Collection

Credit, Faith, Trust, an exhibition of new and recent works from James Casebere at Lisson Gallery

Lesley Heller Workspace opens group show of young female artists and solo exhibition by Loren Munk

Jewellery belonging to Thomas Jefferson's great, great granddaughter offered at Bonhams

Rice University's Rice Building Workshop designs café for the Menil Collection

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers fine art auction realizes 2.7 million

Deborah Solon and Alissa Ford join Heritage Auctions' Fine Arts department

September 13, 2011

Exhibition of Modern artworks in dialogue with Contemporary art at Kunstmuseum Bern

Sotheby's Contemporary Art evening sale to be headlined by Lucian Freud's Boy's Head of 1952

Personal handwritten letters by James Dean to be auctioned at Christie's for the first time

First painted portrait of American Vogue's Anna Wintour acquired by the National Portrait Gallery

Case of Los Angeles' stolen Rembrandt drawing intrigues art world with ownership issue

Miquel Barceló: Elefandret sculpture installed at Union Square in New York City

Ketterer Kunst in Munich announces sale of German Avant-Garde paintings in October

Milwaukee Art Museum acquires masterpiece of American art by John Singleton Copley

Swann Galleries to offer strong selection of American and European Works

Dagger owned by Ottoman Princess and poet married to Grand Vizier for sale at Bonhams

Two new installations by Chinese artist and film maker Yang Fudong premiere at Parasol Unit

Heritage Auctions' Long Beach September numismatic auctions total $34 million combined

Amelia Earhart goggles, photos pull in more than $31,000 at Clars Auction Gallery

Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Baltimore could close

1875 Gorham carved match safe 'Masterpiece,' one of only two known, expected to bring $20,000+

Ceramic vase bought for Perth Museum and Art Gallery

Bonhams sells case of Romanee Conti for 126,500 in Fine Wine sale

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art presents "A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney"

Historypin app lets people create a "time machine"

September 12, 2011

Jessica Lange shows her photos in Europe for the first time at the Niemeyer Center in Avilés

The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection at the De Young Museum

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition by Xu Bing explores the production and culture of tobacco

MoMA PS1 presents major exhibition looking at art from the past years from a post-9/11 perspective

Alchemy & Inquiry: Philip Taaffe, Fred Tomaselli and Terry Winters at James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai

Montreal Concert Hall designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects opens to the public

Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria Director Gerard Vaughan announces retirement

The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga presents the first exhibition in Spain of Monica Bonvicini

American fine art photographer Todd Hido exhibits at Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery

English artist Rose Wylie opens "Picture on the wall..." at Galerie Michael Janssen

Summer's finest estate offerings are ready to harvest at Nest Egg's Sept. 24 Antiques Auction

Award-winning Belgian-Palestinian designer and silversmith Nedda El-Asmar exhibits at the Mosaic Rooms

Phillips de Pury & Co. to sell major photographic works by leading artists to help save Venice

Chris Johnson: A self-taught product of San Francisco's graffiti culture exhibits at Malmo Konsthall

Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art opens exhibitions of new works by Jacob Tillman and Sarah Thibault

New work by DC artist Ellington Robinson at Project 4 Gallery

The Eloquence of Trees: South Korean artists Jeong Han Yun and Choon Hyang Yun at Bill Lowe Gallery

Details: Bergen Kunsthall opens group exhibition

Recent works and new productions from fifteen international artists and designers at Bielefelder Kunstverein

Exhibition by pioneer of digital art Manfred Mohr opens at bitforms gallery

September 11, 2011

First major Tony Cragg exhibition in 20 years opens at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas

Sotheby's Beyond Limits 2011: New works by Hirst, Quinn and Kusama at Chatsworth selling exhibition

The Morgan Library & Museum presents seventeen master drawings by Ingres

Edward Kienholz, Five Car Stud 1969-1972, revisited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Major exhibition poses tough questions and reasserts Fluxus attitude

Major Southern Commissions of the 1930s-1940s at D. Wigmore Fine Art in New York

Color in Flux: Exhibition on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Weserburg

Prehistoric clay disks found at Noatak National Preserve in Northwestern Alaska

LACMA announces inaugural Art + Film Gala honoring Clint Eastwood and John Baldessari

Shakespeare: Staging the World exhibition announced at the British Museum

Gods, heroes & myths still speak of their ancient power at Bonhams sale of antiquities in London

First major solo exhibition of Brian McCutcheon's work opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus chronicles wars in Berlin show

Winning bid for huge diamond seized in Ohio: $2.8 Million

"The Fifth Column" a group exhibition featuring works by seven international artist

New York State Museum opens "New York Remembers" exhibition

Previously unseen drawings and sketches by Nigel Hall at the Royal Academy of Arts

Remembering 9/11 on view at International Center of Photography

September 10, 2011

Israel's national museum returns art to Jewish artist's heirs decades after it was looted

The Walters Art Museum announces major gift of 300 works from John Bourne of Santa Fe

A private German collection and the Gabrielle Keiller collection lead Christie's antiquities sale in London

Poussin masterpiece from the celebrated 'Sacraments' series acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum

Christie's New York announces the auction of a major selection of the remarkable Peter Norton Collection

Legendary Pop diva Anita Mui's jewels and watches to be offered exclusively at Sotheby's

Under a difficult financial situation, Kunstverein Hamburg announces charity auction to save its existence

John Ritter's politically and emotionally charged works at Lyons Wier Gallery Project Space

Exhibition at DC Moore Gallery of new paintings by Eric Aho explore the idea of the covert

Stephenson's Sept. 16 auction includes final inventory of Philadelphia's beloved Glatz Jewelers

Bob Dylan's "Asia Series" art exhibition coming to New York City's Gagosian Gallery

National Park Service secures Petrified Forest; adds 26,000 acres of private land

Photo of Confederate General Robert E. Lee fetches $23K for charity at online auction

Design competition seeks to improve National Mall

Robert Lobe's sculptures take root in Prospect Park's Pastoral Landscape

Guest-curated exhibition showcases an artist exhange between Egypt and the United States

Tate announces one of the most successful years ever

Cincinnati Art Museum celebrates record attendance: Third highest on record

New York arts world commemorates September 11 in music, film

September 9, 2011

Museum of Desires: MUMOK exhibition places the collection's potential in a new light

ABC Art Berlin Contemporary "About Painting" exhibition features some 130 artists

Sotheby's announces first dedicated sale of fine Classical Chinese paintings in New York

Mary Brogan Museum of Art & Science's Borrowed Italian painting: ownership dispute

American colorist Ronnie Landfield's Structure and Color opens at Stephen Haller Gallery

'Game-changer' in evolution from analysis of 2 million-year-old South African bones

Harper's Bazaar: A Decade of Style at the International Center of Photography

Snap up an iconic work by Banksy or Shepard Fairey at Bonhams Urban Art sale

Sculptures and a large-scale installation by Mike Kelley at Gagosian Gallery Britannia Street

Recent oil paintings by John Beerman on display at the Tibor De Nagy Gallery in New York

Bob Levy's slot machines hit the jackpot at Dan Morphy's $1.8 million auction

Jane Hammond combines painting and photography for new exhibition at Galerie Lelong

Greece: Authorities say Couple who had Peter Paul Rubens stolen work were 'amateurs'

Tate Modern to power ahead with art in oil tanks

Bonhams to sell 14th century roof beam from Muslim Spain

Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art opens Primavera 2011: Exhibition by young Australian artists

Milwaukee Art Museum exhibition honors Santiago Calatrava's masterpiece

Zineng Wang joins Christie's Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art as Specialist, Southeast Asia Region

The Bloomberg Commission: Josiah McElheny: The past was a mirage I'd left far behind

Most Popular Last Seven Days



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2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York

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