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MoMA announces recent acquisitions, including 'Painted Bronze' by Jasper Johns
Kerry James Marshall (American, born 1955). Untitled (Club Scene). 2013. Synthetic polymer paint and glitter on unstretched canvas, 119 x 216” (302.3 x 548.6 cm). Art © 2015 Kerry James Marshall. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis have made Painted Bronze by Jasper Johns a promised gift to The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry announced today. A work that has remained in the artist’s collection since it was made in 1960, Painted Bronze occupies a singular position within Johns’s oeuvre, and ranks among the most iconic sculptures of the 20th century. The sculpture is given in honor of David Rockefeller, Honorary Chairman of MoMA's Board of Trustees.

While it appears to be a group of wooden paintbrushes in a Savarin coffee can (13 1/2 x 8" diameter), the truth of the sculpture is provided by its title; a closer look reveals that the print on the coffee can label is hand-lettered, the turpentine and paint “drips” are carefully composed, the “tin” rims are metallic silver paint, and so on. Johns commented on the sculpture and its model in a 1965 interview: “I like that there is the possibility that one might take one for the other, but I also like that, with just a little examination, it’s very clear that one is not the other.”

“Painted Bronze is a landmark object that will transform our holdings of this extraordinary artist’s work,” said Mr. Lowry. “We are extremely grateful to Jasper Johns, and to the Kravises for their generosity in making it a promised gift to the Museum.”

Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, noted that, “The sculpture will find a context at MoMA within an astonishing array of masterpieces by Johns, extending from Flag (1954–55) to Regrets (2013). And it will join such works as Pablo Picasso’s Guitar, Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, and Constantin Brancusi’s Endless Column in a dazzling and thought-provoking narrative of modern sculpture.”

Marie-Josée Kravis, President of MoMA’s Board of Trustees, and Henry R. Kravis have also made a promised gift to MoMA of Alberto Burri’s monumental painting Nero Plastica (1963). In 1960 Burri had begun a new series, the Plastiche, applying the ancient power of fire to the relatively new material of plastic. He used a blowtorch to melt large sheets of plastic and form deep ridges, crevices, and holes, creating a topographical quality that evokes a destroyed landscape or a far-off moon. This masterful example comes directly from the Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, the artist’s foundation in Perugia. This is Burri’s first Black Plastica designated to enter a museum collection in North America.

Four works within this group of acquisitions and promised gifts represent the artists' first work to enter MoMA’s collection. Julian Schnabel’s St. Sebastian (1979) is a key painting from the outset of his career. A surrogate self-portrait, it is a work the artist kept in his own collection until now. Jack Goldstein’s Untitled (1981) exemplifies the painting style of this Los Angeles–trained member of the Pictures Generation. Its scene of a dramatically illuminated night sky is composed entirely from appropriated sources, and was physically made by studio assistants. Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled (Club Scene) (2013) is one of the Chicago-based artist’s largest works to date, and exemplifies his celebration of black American scenes at grand scale. Oscar Murillo’s 7+ (2013–14)—currently on view in the MoMA exhibition The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World—is typical of his works in that it functions as documentation of the artist’s process in the studio, often including, in addition to painted sections, printed and hand-drawn lines, foot- and hand-prints, and dirt and debris from the floor. Another new painting on view in The Forever Now was also acquired at this meeting: Julie Mehretu’s monumental abstraction Invisible Sun (algorithm 5, second letter form).

MoMA has acquired its first sculpture by the French artist Pierre Huyghe, Untilled (Liegender Fraueknakt) [Reclining Female Nude] (2012). This work, created for Documenta 13 in 2012, has since become recognized as the signature image of that exhibition and a landmark in Huyghe’s career. A sculptural tour de force, the work consists of a cast cement sculpture of a reclining woman whose head is replaced by a living beehive. It is slated to be installed in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden later this year.

Another acquisition for the Sculpture Garden is Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Bent Lace (2014), the gift of Agnes Gund, President Emerita, in honor of David Rockefeller. Bent Lace, a bronze cast of carved cedar wood, features a faceted trunk-like base extending upward to the sky, supporting delicate, undulating folds of sculpted material that curve back down in lacelike form.

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