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Berkeley Art Museum acquires the Steven Leiber Conceptual Art Collection and Library
Bas Jan Ader, Untitled (In Search of the Miraculous), 1975; vintage gelatin silver print; 5 in. x 8 in.; purchase made possible through a gift from Robin Wright and a partial gift of the Steven Leiber Trust.

BERKELEY, CA.- The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has acquired the Steven Leiber collection of Conceptual art and ephemera as well as Leiber’s library of Conceptual art reference and artists’ books. Steven Leiber, who was a world-renowned dealer, scholar, and collector with a special interest in Conceptual art, died in 2012.

In recognition of Leiber’s impact on the history of art and on the museum’s own collection, BAM/PFA will name the area of its new building that will house these works “The Steven Leiber Conceptual Art Study Center.” BAM/PFA’s new building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is currently under construction in downtown Berkeley and is slated to open in early 2016. With this new acquisition, BAM/PFA is poised to become one of the world’s leading centers for the study of Conceptual art.

The newly acquired Steven Leiber collection includes approximately 300 rare and significant works by American and European Conceptual artists from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and over 700 books, catalog, and reference materials. Among the artists represented are Bas Jan Ader, Michael Asher, John Baldessari, Alighiero Boetti, Marcel Broodthaers, Stanley Brouwn, Daniel Buren, James Lee Byars, Hanne Darboven, Walter De Maria, Gilbert & George, Douglas Huebler, Stephen Kaltenbach, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Lee Lozano, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, and Lawrence Weiner. The collection is also noteworthy for including complete sets of several seminal Conceptual art publications such as the Mönchengladbach Museum box catalogs, Art-Rite, Avalanche, and the Art & Project bulletins.

Leiber’s passion for Conceptual art was established well before the genre became widely appreciated for its important place in the history of global contemporary art. The acquisition of his personal collection was made possible through a bequest from Phoebe Apperson Hearst, by exchange, a partial gift of the Steven Leiber Trust, and gifts from Andy and Deborah Rappaport, Robin Wright, Frances Bowes, Alexandra Bowes, and proceeds from the Marcia Simon Weisman Foundation Fund and the Friends and Trustees Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Since the 1990s—and thanks, in part, to the assistance of Steven Leiber himself—BAM/PFA has developed one of the most important collections of Conceptual art and related materials. The institution’s holdings include the archives of the Museum of Conceptual Art, The Ant Farm collective, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, as well as significant Fluxus and mail art collections. BAM/PFA recently received a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to digitize and catalog a significant portion of its Conceptual art materials to make them more accessible to online researchers around the world.

“This collection is an embodiment of the most radical, thoughtful, and innovative art being made anywhere in the world from the 1960s to the 1980s,” says former gallerist, arts publisher, and current BAM/PFA Trustee Jack Wendler. “As an active participant in the Conceptual art movement, I can say that there couldn’t be a better home for this collection than BAM/PFA. It will be an inspiration to students and our other audiences for years to come.”

“Steven enjoyed educating young people about Conceptual art as much as he loved the art itself,” recalls BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder. “As a scholar and teacher, he would have been thrilled to have his collection come to UC Berkeley where new generations can learn from, and add their own creativity to, this critically important genre of art.”

Leiber’s contributions to the history of contemporary art included consulting on numerous exhibitions, collections, and publications, as well as organizing the groundbreaking exhibition and book Extra Art: A Survey of Artists’ Ephemera, 1960–1999, which opened in 2001 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, before traveling to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. He was also active as an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts.

Leiber’s wife, Leigh Markopoulos, expressed the Trust’s delight at this acquisition, saying, “We cannot think of a more fitting home for Steven’s Conceptual collection, nor a better way to celebrate his activities as a promoter, collector, and educator. It’s wonderful to think that his legacy and connection to the Bay Area will be honored at BAM/PFA for years to come.”

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