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SFMOMA Acquires Conceptual Art Collection with Works by Bruce Nauman
The acquisition features five important early works by American artist Bruce Nauman. EPA/HORST OSSINGER.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced today a major acquisition of 25 works from the collection of Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo of Milan, Italy, featuring five important early works by American artist Bruce Nauman. Part gift from SFMOMA Trustees and part museum purchase, the acquisition also includes major works by Robert Barry, Joseph Beuys, Hanne Darboven, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner, among others, and further strengthens SFMOMA’s collection of American and European Conceptual art. The five works by Nauman—including the only extant Nauman painting and four sculptures made while the artist was living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area—span the years 1964 to 1967 and reveal his development during this seminal period in his career.

“Together with SFMOMA’s strong Conceptual art holdings, this acquisition will enable us to broadly represent the key issues and figures of the movement, and gives SFMOMA one of the most important concentrations of the early works of Bruce Nauman of any museum in the world,” said Gary Garrels, SFMOMA Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture.

Other works in the acquisition include Joseph Kosuth’s Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (Paint) (1966); three works by Lawrence Weiner titled One Kilogram of Laquer Poured upon a Floor (1969), A Stone Wall Breached (1969), and A Stone Left Unturned (1970); the work 51 Drawings (1971–72) by Hanne Darboven; Discussion: June 1972 (1972) by Ian Wilson; as well as the work My Steps in Torino–The total number of my steps in Torino in 1971–16,827 (1971) by Stanley Brouwn. Four works by Robert Barry, two room installations from 1968 Wire Installation and String Piece, and two slide projector works It Can Seem to Be… (1971–72) and It Is And It Can Be (1971–72), are the first works by Barry to enter the museum’s collection. A light installation by Douglas Wheeler also is included in the acquisition.

The acquisition adds significant works to SFMOMA’s already strong holdings of Conceptual and related art made between the early 1960s and early 1970s, joining key works by Joseph Beuys, Yves Klein, Richard Long, Mel Bochner, Eva Hesse, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, and Richard Tuttle—artists who have been of central importance in SFMOMA’s collection-building strategy, as well as Bay Area artists Terry Fox, Howard Fried, David Ireland, Paul Kos, and Tom Marioni. The Nauman works join one of his most significant sculptures from this period, Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists (1966), already in the museum’s collection.

Sixteen of the works are being purchased outright, and the remainder are being acquired as promised gifts from museum Trustees.

Conceptual art, which developed in the mid-1960s in both the United States, Europe, and internationally, pushed the boundaries of art to focus on core issues of perception and consciousness to embrace language and text, performance, and unorthodox materials. Artists such as Joseph Kosuth pushed art to its most immaterial presence and most philosophical edge, while artists like Nauman explored the fluid relationships between mind and body. Time and space were central issues to all of these artists, and shifting relationships between the artist and viewer became central subjects to these artists’ works. Several of the works exist only as certificates, which authorize production of the works under set conditions.

Count Panza is widely recognized as one of the most important collectors of postwar art in the world. His collected works of Conceptual art are highly regarded worldwide, and the works acquired by SFMOMA speak to the quality and breadth of this activity in this area. His collection of American Abstract Expressionist and early Pop art was acquired in 1984 by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and a large number of Minimal art works from his collection are now in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art | Bruce Nauman | Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo |

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