PURCHASE, NY.- In recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the Neuberger Museum of Art, financier Roy R. Neuberger has donated a gift of twenty-four paintings, sculpture, and works on paper to the institution that bears his name. Selected works from the Neuberger donation will be on view this spring, when the Neuberger Museum of Art, to mark the 30th anniversary milestone, presents several exhibitions featuring objects drawn from its permanent collections.
During his lifetime, Roy R. Neuberger, now 101 years old, has purchased thousands of works of art. While he has donated hundreds of art objects to museums and other institutions, he has never sold the work of a living artist. In 1965, while fellow art collector Nelson Rockefeller, then Governor of New York, was setting up the State University of New York system, he approached Neuberger, offering to create a museum to house Neuberger’s collection of 20th century modern art. Rockefeller’s proposed museum was to be situated in Westchester County; he envisioned the Purchase facility as a center for art and culture. Wooed by the famous Rockefeller charm and persuasiveness, Neuberger agreed to donate a major portion of his art collection to the proposed SUNY Purchase Museum.
Included in the gift are ten paintings by Louis Michel Eilshemius (American, 1864-1941), bringing the Neuberger Museum holdings of works by this artist to one hundred twelve. Eilshemius was a visionary painter whose subjects - landscapes, city scenes, and nudes - were usually drawn from dreams and nightmares. Eilshemius’s countryside depictions are often entrancing. His manipulation of paint was advanced and applied with a buttery touch that produced a combination of filmy and unfinished surfaces rendered with a mystical sense of color.
Two significant works in the donation are Construction #784 by Abe Ajay, and Kaldis at the Cedar St. Bar by Paul Georges. Abe Ajay (1919 - 1998), who was a member of the Purchase College faculty and lived and worked in Connecticut for most of his career, is one of the 20th century's most inventive assemblage sculptors. A chance discovery in the mid-1960s of discarded wooden cigar molds opened Ajay’s eyes to the possibilities of a new three-dimensional medium and language. He carved them in various directions with a table saw and combined them with a number of other found objects into a series of relief constructions. Although frequently referred to as sculpture, Ajay’s modular geometric reliefs are essentially viewed from the front.
In contrast, Paul Georges (1923 – 2002) was a rebellious artist whose semi-hip realistic figurative work, large-scale floral studies, and history and mythological scenes went against the grain of the modernist milieu in which he painted.
Georges studied with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He moved to Paris in 1949 and attended the Atelier Fernand Léger. Back in New York in 1952 he worked in abstract and figurative styles, and he sought to reconcile the conflicting theories of the Abstract Expressionists within a figurative format, linking the great masters of the Western canon to Modernist concerns. He divided his time between New York City and Normandy, which inspired the pictorial inventiveness, lush surfaces and bravura brushwork that endeared him to traditionalists as well.