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Three museums receive gift of Steichen photographs from Richard and Jackie Hollander
Edward Steichen, 1879-1973, Therese Duncan on the Acropolis, (1921). Palladium print, 9 15/16 x 8in. (25.2 x 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander 2012.243. Photograph by Bill Orcutt © Permission Estate of Edward Steichen.

NEW YORK, NY.- Three American art museums have received an extraordinary gift from collectors Richard and Jackie Hollander: 142 vintage photographs by the great photographer Edward Steichen. The photographs will enter the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

In making the gift, Richard Hollander, the Chairman of Aristotle Capital Management, LLC, and Jackie Hollander commented: “Presenting this gift to these three outstanding institutions across the United States represents our commitment to ensuring that these works have the greatest accessibility to the public across the nation, from coast to coast. Our hope is that this gift will provide an opportunity for students, art enthusiasts, and the general public to gain increased appreciation for Edward Steichen and to be inspired by his work.” Mr. Hollander continued, “At Aristotle Capital Management our people are committed to community involvement in many different ways. Through this gift of Steichen photographs, we hope to make a meaningful contribution toward greater public access to remarkable art.”

Universally regarded as one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, Edward Steichen (1879–1973) transformed the medium through his innovations in portrait, fashion, theater, horticultural, and advertising photography. Richard and Jackie Hollander are believed to have held the largest collection of Steichen photographs in private hands. Their gift to each of the three museums represents part of their overall collection. The photographs were purchased by the Hollanders directly from the estate of the artist and were printed by Steichen himself, giving the works a rare provenance.

Lisa Corrin, the Ellen Philips Katz Director of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, noted: “The gift from Richard and Jackie Hollander is transformative for the Block, which has steadily been building its photography collection. Of his many achievements, Steichen was a pioneering figure who created a vocabulary of visual conventions that came to define ‘celebrity,’ ‘style,’ ‘leader,’ and ‘genius.’ This gift of forty-nine photographs will provide an excellent tool for critical discussions with students across fields of study about how such conventions continue to operate today.” The gift to the Block has been made in honor of Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and his wife Mimi Schapiro. An exhibition of the photographs is planned at the Block this fall (September 20–December 1, 2013).

“The forty-six Edward Steichen photographs entering LACMA’s collection are an ideal complement to our holdings of early-twentieth-century photography, and offer newfound depth to our holdings of Steichen’s work in particular,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “Richard and Jackie Hollander’s generous gift further enhances LACMA’s rapidly growing Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography collection, which has recently seen major acquisitions like the Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection and Robert Mapplethorpe’s art and archives.” LACMA plans an exhibition from July to November 2013 of the Steichen photographs they are receiving.

“We are honored to be benefitting, along with LACMA and the Block, from the generosity of Richard and Jackie Hollander,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director. “Steichen transformed photography as an advocate, curator, and practitioner. His exquisite images explore a range of genres, but it is with portraiture—well represented in this gift—that he makes his most outstanding and radical contribution. We are profoundly grateful to Richard and Jackie for this thrilling gift, which greatly enhances our pre-World War II photography collection, which will have a greater presence in the new downtown Whitney.” The gift to the Whitney of forty-seven photographs is dedicated to Richard Hollander’s sister, Ellyn, a student of the Fashion Institute of Technology, who passed away from cancer at age 19.

Edward Steichen began his career as a proponent of the Pictorialist style, favoring the art of personal expression rather than the objective recording of fact. As his work progressed, he evolved into one of the best-known portraitists in the world, focusing on capturing the personalities as well as the look of his subjects. These included the most famous names of his day: in addition to FDR, Herbert Hoover, and Winston Churchill, he shot iconic images of dozens of notables including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Lillian Gish, H. L. Mencken, Noel Coward, Thomas Mann, William Butler Yeats, Willa Cather, Walter Winchell, Amelia Earhart, Bernard Baruch, Brancusi, and Colette.

In 1923, Steichen was hired as the first chief of photography for Vogue and Vanity Fair, a position he held until 1937. With America’s entry into World War II, Steichen volunteered for service and became head of the U.S. naval photographic division and commander of all Navy combat photography.

After the war, in 1947, Steichen became the director of photography at The Museum of Modern Art. He used his exhibitions as artworks, enlarging photographs and creating visual narratives, confident in the power of photography to communicate and to connect. His most famous show, The Family of Man, set a new standard. It presented photography as a healing force, an art that could make human beings aware of their common humanity. Steichen wrote in the catalogue’s introduction that the exhibition “was conceived as a mirror of the universal elements and emotions in the everydayness of life—as a mirror of the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world.” In 1963, President John F. Kennedy presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of a lifetime of achievement.

At the time of a full-scale Steichen retrospective at the Whitney in 2000, curator Barbara Haskell wrote in the exhibition catalogue: “One of the legendary photographers of the twentieth century, Edward Steichen spent his career challenging assumptions about what photographs could and should be…He proposed a new connection between photography and popular culture, embracing the medium as a vehicle of mass communication…He was guided by an unerring instinct for drama and the use of light and shadow…The imagery and message changed, but his work always caught the mood of its time.”

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