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PAFA announces new acquisitions; Partnership with Paulson Fontaine Press
David Huffman, Basketball Pyramid, 2007. Color aquatint, spitbite and sugarlift Aquatints, softground and hardground Etchings. Somerset white textured paper. Image size 27 x 36 in.; paper size: 37.5 x 45 in. Edition of 35.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- During its most recent Collections Committee meeting, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts announced a relationship with the Paulson Fontaine Press to be the only East Coast repository for all of its prints by African American artists. The museum also added nearly 40 historic, modern and contemporary works to its permanent collection of American art at the quarterly meeting.

“With the acquisition of these prints, PAFA is positioned to become the East Coast archive of works on paper by African American artists from that press,” said Jodi Throckmorton, PAFA Curator of Contemporary Art. The West coast repository is the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

“This collection of prints represents some of the most important artists working today,” Throckmorton said. “The Paulson Fontaine Press is one of the most experimental presses and that is evident in the quality of the 129 prints we acquired.” Featured artists include Radcliffe Bailey, McArthur Binion, Kerry James Marshall, and Gary Simmons, among others.

“Paulson Fontaine Press is honored to place a powerful collection of prints by African American artists with PAFA,” said Pam Paulson, the Press’ Founder and Master Printer. “The leadership at PAFA shares our commitment to diversity in the arts as well a passion for printmaking, highlighted by their recent acquisition of The Brodsky Center. We are delighted to have an opportunity to share our program with Philadelphia’s vibrant community for years to come.”

The other new acquisitions include paintings, sculpture, etchings, and drawings, many of which are works by women, artists of color, and American artists often overlooked by the mainstream. The acquisitions include seven sculptures from John Rhoden (1918-2001). In January 2018, PAFA took over responsibility for more than 275 works by African American sculptor Rhoden and appointed Dr. Brittany Webb as Curator of the Collection.

A highlight in the latest group of purchases is the large plaster Maquette for the Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial, (1948) by American sculptor Walker Hancock (1901-1988). Hancock, one of the Monuments Men who recovered art treasures looted by the Nazis, was an alumnus and later chair of the Sculpture department at PAFA and created notable monumental sculptures, including the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, for which this work is a study.

Also acquired at this meeting is Morris Heights, N.Y. City (1912) by artist May Howard Jackson (1877-1931) This is the first work of art by PAFA alumna Jackson to enter the permanent collection, said Curator of Historical American Art Dr. Anna O. Marley. “Jackson is the first known African American woman to attend PAFA and received a full scholarship in 1895 to do so. It is an honor to finally have her work in PAFA’s collection,” she said.

Now and Then: Aliens San Frontieres (2018) by Mexican artist Enrique Chagoya, explores topical issues of U.S. border policy; A Site of Reckoning: Battlefield (2016), a video by Jon- Sesrie Goff, is about the shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; XIII (2017), a gouache and chalk pastel by artist Natalie Frank, challenges normative conceptions of the human figure; and Untitled (2015) is the first work by Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha to enter PAFA’s collection.

Many of these new acquisitions will be on view at PAFA this summer in the exhibition Infinite Spaces: Rediscovering PAFA’s Permanent Collection, including the Walker Hancock sculpture and a charcoal portrait of Shirley Lewis Gerald (n.d.) by artist Violet Oakley. Also on view will be Frederic Edwin Church’s masterful oil painting, "Valley of Santa Isabel, New Granada" (1875), purchased by PAFA last month.

“Developing a permanent collection that tells the sweeping story of American Art is a priority at the museum, so we are thrilled to now care for this eclectic body of work,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum.

The purchases are made through collections endowments and dedicated collections funds, as well as gifts.

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