Baltimore Museum of Art announces diverse array of acquisitions across museum departments

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Baltimore Museum of Art announces diverse array of acquisitions across museum departments
Alexander "Skunder" Boghossian. Blind Faith. 1992. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Amy Gould/Matthew Polk Fund and Art Fund established with exchange funds from gifts of Dr. and Mrs. Edgar F. Berman, Equitable Bank, N.A., Geoffrey Gates, Sandra O. Moose, National Endowment for the Arts, Lawrence Rubin, Philip M. Stern, and Alan J. Zakon, BMA 2022.53

BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announced today a wide range of acquisitions that reflect its ongoing commitment to diversifying the range of voices and narratives represented across its encyclopedic holdings. This includes approximately 30 works and suites by contemporary artists as well as new additions to the museum’s European, Asian, African, and decorative arts collections. Among the works is a new painting by Salman Toor, currently on view as part of the BMA’s solo presentation of the artist’s work, titled No Ordinary Love. The museum has also acquired works from other exhibitions, such as a monumental five-panel installation by Baltimore-based artist LaToya M. Hobbs, a two-part sculpture by Thaddeus Mosely, and a four-channel video installation by Baltimore-based artists Elissa Blount Moorhead and Bradford Young. In addition, the BMA received several gifts, including 27 works on paper from esteemed curator Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims; 12 prints by artist Shirley Gorelick given by her daughter; jewelry and ceramics from late Baltimore collector Barbara Katz; and textiles from the family of artist Frankie Welch.

The new acquisitions capture an incredible range of formal and conceptual innovation across time, culture, and geography and reflect the BMA’s commitment to expanding its holdings of works by artists who are Indigenous, part of the global diaspora, and from Baltimore. Among the works are paintings and works on paper by Amoako Boafo, Benny Andrews, Alexander "Skunder" Boghossian, Elizabeth Catlett, Hulda Guzmán, Doron Langberg, Farah Mohammad, Jennifer Packer, and Anna Walinska; sculpture, objects, and mixed-media works by Areogun of Osi-Ilorin, Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell, Emmanuel Massillon, and Rose B. Simpson; and video artworks by Sky Hopinka, James Luna, and Caroline Monnett. The museum has also added works across media by other artists either from or who have ties to the Baltimore area, including Mequitta Ahuja, Greg Fletcher, Monika Ikegwu, and Joyce J. Scott. It has also acquired an exceptional Baltimore Album Quilt, dated and inscribed to 1845.

“Ensuring that the BMA’s holdings continue to grow and develop in a way that reflects the true diversity of the artists and makers that have shaped the trajectory of art—not just in our contemporary moment but through time—remains a critical priority. The slate of new acquisitions reflects the range of approaches the museum’s curatorial team is taking to fulfilling this essential and ongoing vision,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Interim Co-Director and Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator. “We look forward to sharing these works with our audiences through upcoming exhibitions and installations, and to illuminating the deeply timely, topical, and relevant narratives and experiences that they hold within them.”

Acquisitions Highlights

Salman Toor. The Inheritors. 2022.

One of the most important painters of his generation, Salman Toor (Pakistani-American, b. 1983) blurs the lines between European and South Asian artistic traditions to reveal the contours of his darkly comical, erotic, and endearing private world. The Inheritors shows a group of men seated on the floor arranged in poses that suggest prayer, contemplation, or despair. The composition, with its moody green palette, can be read as a rumination on masculinity as the men refer allegorically to South Asian or Middle Eastern father figures, sons, and tribal elders. This work is featured in the Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love exhibition and advances the BMA’s commitment to center the work of underrepresented artists, redefine American identity, and reexamine traditional art historical narratives through contemporary art.

LaToya M. Hobbs. Carving Out Time. 2020-2021.

Carving Out Time by Baltimore-based artist LaToya M. Hobbs (American, b. 1983) is an arresting work comprised of five monumental 8-by-12-foot hand-carved wood panels chronicling key moments in an ordinary day for a working artist-mother. Produced especially for the BMA exhibition All Due Respect, the installation is an epic self-portrait presenting the artist as triumphant, empowered, and in control of her identity and its expression. In addition to representations of herself and her family, Hobbs deftly replicates works by artists Margaret Burrows, Alma Thomas, Elizabeth Catlett, Kerry James Marshall, and Jean-Michel Basquiat within the panel scenes. Drawing on her formal training as a printmaker, Hobbs activated the panels as printmaking matrixes before presenting the panels themselves as paintings imbued with the warmth of their cherrywood substrate.

Rose B. Simpson. Heights II. 2022.

Rose B. Simpson (American, b. 1983) is a mixed-media artist from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, where she lives and works as an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Santa Clara. Her practice engages ceramic sculpture, installation, and performance as a contemporary continuation of the traditions of her Santa Clara Tewa ancestors. While much of Simpson’s work is committed to the presentation of Indigenous knowledge for future generations, Heights II is a hybrid of an androgynous human figure and a dragonfly with arms replaced by tethered ceramic hoops, requiring that the care of this creature would be attended to by a community. It brings a sense of empathy, embodiment, and connectedness to an alienated, digitized, conflicted world. In this way, the sculpture articulates Simpson’s conviction that humans remember their responsibility and accountability to our world.

Elizabeth Catlett. The Black Woman portfolio. 1946-47, printed 1989.

In 1989, four decades after adopting Mexico as her home, printmaker and sculptor Elizabeth Catlett (American, b. 1915) collaborated with the master printer Robert Blackburn at The Printmaking Workshop in New York to reissue her groundbreaking suite of linocut prints The Black Woman. Originally conceived by Catlett in 1946-47, the prints illustrate the struggles and triumphs of Black America through a decidedly feminist lens. The boldly graphic impressions included in this group are a mixture of political and historical subject matter that address in particular the experiences of Black women, chronicling their social, economic, and historical roles. Portrayals of women as domestic workers and labor organizers pair with imagery that calls out segregation, disenfranchisement, and violence. Also included are inspiring representations of iconic historical women, such as Phillis Wheatley and Harriet Tubman, as well as two allegorical figures that open and close the powerful portfolio.

Thaddeus Mosley, Tatum Scales. 2020.

Thaddeus Mosley (American, b. 1926,) transforms wood into inventive abstract forms inspired by the art of the African diaspora, jazz, and the modernist avant-garde. Using only a mallet, chisel, and masterful joinery techniques, Mosley, largely self-taught, reworks felled timber from local sawmills into monumental biomorphic expressions. His latest work, and arguably one of the best produced in his six decades of sculpting, Tatum Scales beautifully reflects Mosley’s technical virtuosity and his active engagement with histories of modernism across many geographies. The two-part sculpture is both monumental and intimate in scale, with the larger piece rising eight feet into the air and the smaller component suggesting a small seat or footstool. Tatum Scales was recently included in the BMA’s focused presentation of the artist’s work, titled Thaddeus Mosley: Forest.

Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell. Paper Filigree Cabinet on Stand with Hairwork and Ink Panels. c. 1789.

This extraordinary paper-covered cabinet was created by two of the most famous English craftswomen of the 18th century, Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell (c.1748-1841) and her niece Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell (English, 1763-1853). The cabinet base is made of wood and covered in paper filigree—dyed, rolled paper strips arranged in decorative patterns to imitate metalwork and marquetry—and inset with pastoral scenes made of hair and ink. It is one of only six surviving examples of furniture in this medium and the BMA’s first pre-20th-century piece of furniture by named women makers.

Joyce J. Scott. Swimmer. c. 1976., Wet Nurse. 2002/2017., and Lynched Tree. 2011.

Baltimore-based artist Joyce J. Scott (American, b. 1948) is among the most important American artists living and working today. Her five-decade career embraces sculpture, jewelry, beadwork, performance, installation, printmaking, and community practice. Swimmer is a rare example of Scott’s 1970s soft sculpture. This figurative textile represents Scott’s earliest pursuits as a fiber artist before she prioritized the translucency of beads and glass. Wet Nurse belongs to Scott’s important “Mammy/Nanny” series. Lynched Tree is Scott’s only extant work of monumental installation. Though installation is a core avenue of the artist’s practice, she has more often created temporary, site-specific environments. Lynched Tree was first conceived for Prospect.2 New Orleans. These acquisitions reflect the BMA’s commitment to assemble a significant repository of Scott’s works across the full chronology and range of her career. They build on the strengths of the BMA’s holdings, including two sculptures, one textile, one necklace, and numerous prints.

Areogun of Osi-Ilorin. Opon Igede (Container). 1930s.

This relief-carved wooden bowl was likely created by Areogun (Nigerian, c. 1880-1954), a celebrated master sculptor and one of the most important artists in 20th-century Nigeria. Its illustrations of a turbaned Muslim chief riding a horse, a priest of the healing deity Osanyin holding a staff surmounted by a bird, and a British colonial official riding a bicycle help visualize multi-culturalism of southwestern Nigeria during this period. This rare example from the Ekiti region is one of the largest Yorùbá artworks in the collection and the first by this artist.

Doren Langberg. Willy. 2021.

Israeli-born, Brooklyn-based artist Doron Langberg (American, b. 1985) is attuned to the empathy art can evoke, capturing emotions through his chromatically brilliant, contemplative portraits. Langberg draws from personal experiences and humanizing moments to create tender and seductive paintings that tell a story of queer experience, including loss, grief, intimacy, pleasure, and love. Willy is a portrait of a close friend captured in the artist’s apartment during the Covid quarantine. The work captures Langberg’s masterful treatment of textiles, exterior, and interior patterns that establish a sense of environment. Large swathes of yellows, pinks, and blues conveying the electric energy of New York’s night sky, as well as the warmth of the room in which the figure is positioned.

Alexander "Skunder" Boghossian. Blind Faith. 1992.

This large-scale gouache and pastel painting was created by one of the giants of Ethiopian modernism: Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian (Ethiopian, 1937-2003) and is the first work of the artist to enter the museum’s collection. It was produced later in the artist’s life, when he had immigrated to the United States and was living in the Washington, D.C. area. It was also the year after the end of the 14-year civil war in Ethiopia. The bright, almost neon geometric patterns on a dark blue and black scribbled background reveal an Ethiopian cross. The twinkling stars in the background suggest a night sky and birds in Ethiopian iconography often serve as heralds of the resurrection.

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