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Santa Barbara Museum of Art announces gift of more than 70 works of art from Eichholz Collection
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Cite Lacustre, 1957. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Gift of Robert B. and Mercedes H. Eichholz.

SANTA BARBARA, CA.- The Santa Barbara Museum of Art announced the addition of more than 70 works of art to its holdings thanks to a generous bequest from the collection of Robert and Mercedes Eichholz. The extraordinary works range across most continents and virtually all media, and are a significant gesture of support for the continued growth and strength of the Museum’s permanent collection.

The late Mercedes Eichholz, or Merci, as she was affectionately known to those around her, first became involved with SBMA after the death of her husband Robert in 1983, and remained actively engaged until her death at the age of 96 in August 2013. The Museum exhibited about a third of this recent multi-million dollar gift of art in a 2008 exhibition. Titled Merci!: Selections from the Robert B. and Mercedes H. Eichholz Collection, the exhibition reflected not only her eclectic tastes, but also her adventurous spirit. One of the works featured in that exhibition is also by one of the most recognized artists in the Eichholz collection: Pablo Picasso. His drawing, Two Women on a Sofa (1941) is a part of this generous bequest.

The Eichholz collection includes significant European paintings, such as a sizable 1960 abstraction by contemporary School of Paris artist, Pierre Soulages. Another is by Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Vieira da Silva moved to France where she studied with Fernand Léger, Antoine Bourdelle, and Stanley William Hayter. Her work, like that of Soulages, is affiliated with French Tachisme, a European branch of abstraction that emphasized spontaneity. These paintings comprise a substantial enhancement of the Museum’s collection of 20th-century abstraction, which features paintings by Hans Hofmann, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Kenzo Okada, Serge Poliakoff, Jack Tworkov, and others.

Another strength of the Eichholz collection is work by Latin American artists from the 1960s and 1970s. The bequest includes exemplary works by Marcelo Bonevardi, Mathias Goeritz, Eduardo MacEntyre, Roberto Matta, and Jesús Rafael Soto. These enhance the Museum’s important holdings in this area, which include works by artists Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gyula Kosice, Wilfredo Lam, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others.

Other works included in the Eichholz bequest are by the artists Agam (Yaacov Agam), Eileen Agar, Enrico Donati, Tschang-Yeul Kim, Jules Olitski, Ann Purcell, and Frank Stella. Reflecting Merci’s love and support of local artists, the gift also includes works by Santa Barbara artists Dane Goodman, Mary Heebner, Rafael Perea de la Cabada, Harry Reese, Marie Schoeff, Joan Tanner, and Howard Warshaw.

The Museum will feature a small selection of these works in Colefax Gallery at the end of June 2014.

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