Baltimore Museum of Art opens exhibition of recent acquisitions highlighting collection diversification

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Baltimore Museum of Art opens exhibition of recent acquisitions highlighting collection diversification
Betye Saar. The Destiny of Latitude & Longitude. 2010. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase with exchange funds from the Pearlstone Family Fund and partial gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © Betye Saar.

BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art charted new territory in 2018 when it deaccessioned seven artworks from its contemporary holdings to create an acquisition fund for purchases of works by artists underrepresented in its collection and within broader art historical narratives. During the past three years, this fund has allowed the BMA to acquire 125 works by 85 artists, with 111 works by 71 artists and artist collaboratives representing first entries into the museum’s collection. From May 2 to July 18, 2021, the BMA presents 26 of these works—most on view for the first time since their acquisition—in an exhibition titled Now Is The Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection. The exhibition invites visitors to experience the breadth and depth of these works, created by an incredible array of artists, and to explore the new histories that these acquisitions are enabling the BMA to share with the public.

Now Is The Time offers an insightful snapshot of the BMA’s curatorial effort, led by Asma Naeem, Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator, and Katy Siegel, Senior Programming and Research Curator and Thaw Chair of Modern Art at Stony Brook University, to identify artists deserving of greater scholarly research and public attention, placing the highest priority on those artists who are also women, Black, Indigenous, self-trained, and/or have connections to Baltimore. This includes established figures such as Betye Saar, Valerie Maynard, Benny Andrews, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, and Virginia Jaramillo alongside emerging voices such as Firelei Báez, Laura Ortman, Jerrell Gibbs, and Theresa Chromati, creating dialogues across generations. The exhibition also captures an expansive range of approaches to making, developed through both self-taught and academic training with examples by artists Beverly Buchanan, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Thornton Dial, Fred Eversley, Ficre Ghebreyesus, Lonnie Holley, and Suzanne Jackson, among others. Together, the featured works enhance the image of what art can be and deeply complicate long-held notions of art history.

“The BMA’s acquisition efforts are grounded in the belief that the story of art as we know it is incomplete and includes a much greater number of voices and ideas that have been obscured by various forms of discrimination. While we are only at the beginning of rectifying those omissions in our collection, we are excited by the ways in which it has already grown to embrace a wider range of experience and artistry,” said Christopher Bedford, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “The artists featured in this exhibition, and those we have acquired more broadly, are not only diverse in their identities and backgrounds but also represent an extraordinary spectrum of vision, technique, material use, and creative approach. Their works capture innovations across genres and disciplines that dismantle entrenched artistic hierarchies and boundaries. We look forward to sharing these works and the stories they hold with our community.”

Now Is The Time also includes a deeper examination of the BMA’s approach to buying and collecting art of its time with visual displays and descriptions on the BMA’s collecting history, canon correction, the museum’s relationship with the art market, and collection data analysis to enhance public understanding of each of these topics.

Now Is The Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection is jointly curated by Christopher Bedford, Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director; Asma Naeem, Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator; and Katy Siegel, Senior Programming and Research Curator and Thaw Chair of Modern Art at Stony Brook University.

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