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Innovative Sculpture Donated to Michener Art Museum In Memory of Robert V. Nesi

DOYLESTOWN, PA.- A sculpture on view outside of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown since 1989 has been added to the Museum’s permanent collection. Isaac Witkin’s Waif’s Anchors (1986) was recently donated in memory of Robert V. Nesi by his family, longtime members and supporters of the Museum. Waif’s Anchors measures over nine feet tall and is a significant example of the artist’s innovative poured bronze technique, which involves pouring molten bronze into wet sand. Through its organic shapes assembled together, Witkin’s sculpture serves as a symbolic arch, welcoming visitors into the Museum’s courtyard.

"It's hard to imagine a visit to the Michener without experiencing the beautiful and distinctive Witkin sculpture by the entrance," said the museum's senior curator Brian H. Peterson. "As the first thing our visitors see, this sculpture sets the tone for the visitor experience here, and we're very grateful to the Nesi family not only for loaning the work to the museum for so many years, but for their generosity in donating it to the permanent collection."

Born in Johannesburg , South Africa , Witkin (1936-2006) became an American citizen in 1975 and grew to be one of the most prominent American sculptors of the 20th century. He studied in London at Saint Martin’s School of Art , now called Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, before taking a teaching position in 1965 at Bennington College in Vermont , where he stayed until 1979. While building an international reputation as a sculptor, he also taught at Parsons School of Design in New York and Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts. He also served on art advisory committees at Bennington and Yale University .

Witkin was the recipient of many awards, including First Prize in the Paris Biennale in 1965 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981. His work can be found in the collections of such prestigious institutions as the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC; Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; Denver Art Museum; Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ; National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC; Tate Gallery in England, and The Israel Museum, Billy Rose Garden in Jerusalem.

Waif’s Anchors is the latest acquisition in the ever-growing permanent collection of the Museum, which currently contains over 2200 objects. Since 2005, over a dozen contemporary sculptures have joined the permanent collection, bringing the total number of sculptures to 228. In 1989 one of the first sculptures given to the Museum was Raymond Barger’s Transition. This prominent bronze sculpture which resembles a whale or dolphin’s tail, sits outside in the outdoor sculpture garden, in front of the Museum. Though there are countless examples of contemporary sculptures found in the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden , the front walkway and galleries, they have all become a large part of the identity of this cultural institution.

Kristy Krivitsky, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum says, “Witkin was a major figure in the history of twentieth century sculpture. Through the creation of his early, abstract artworks, Witkin challenged the long-held figurative tradition of sculpture. He worked with many important sculptors of his generation, including Henry Moore and Anthony Caro, but developed his own unique working methods. Waif's Anchors exemplifies his innovative style and strengthens our sculpture collection, as well as our holdings in contemporary art. It is a fantastic addition.”

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