By Helen Wong
Earlier this summer, the Cantor Arts Center received three donations that will significantly expand the museum’s collection of American art. The gifts contain works from Richard Diebenkorn, Jacob Lawrence and Andy Warhol, and were donated by Phyllis Diebenkorn ’42, Herbert Kayden and his daughter Joelle Kayden MBA ’81, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, respectively.
“Each of the three gifts are unique and add greatly to interest, research and scholarship for each artist,” said Connie Wolf ’81, museum director. “For the most part, the works gifted to the museum have never been shown. With the Cantor’s commitment to scholarship, these extensive collections provide unprecedented opportunities for further understandings and new insights into the work of these world-renowned artists.”
The Diebenkorn works include 26 sketchbooks containing an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 drawings. Diebenkorn was one of the most important artists in the Bay Area figurative movement, and the addition of the sketchbooks to Cantor’s standing collection of 10 other Diebenkorn works now makes Cantor the definitive center for international scholarly study on the artist.
Digital scans of all the sketchbook pages are anticipated, and the scans will be available to students and other scholars. Selected pieces of the Diebenkorn sketchbooks will be displayed in 2015 in an exhibition curated by Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, curator of prints, drawings and photographs.
“The sketchbooks have never been fully documented or displayed,” Wolf said. “[By being digitized], the sketchbooks will add greatly to the understanding of Diebenkorn’s creative and thinking process.”
The Lawrence pieces include 11 drawings, five paintings, nine prints and one book illustrated by Lawrence for a total of 26 works. In addition, the collection also includes a painting by Lawrence’s wife Gwendolyn Knight and an archive of collection-related materials. The donation makes the Cantor home to the largest collection of Lawrence works on the West Coast.
“As one of the most important African-American artists of the 20th century, Lawrence is essential to the understanding of the complexity of the development of American art over the last century,” Wolf said. “This extensive collection spanning Lawrence’s entire career provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the work and develop deeper understandings of the impact of his work.”
The Lawrence works are set to be displayed in their inaugural exhibition in early 2015, and will also be integrated into academic courses.
Thanks to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Cantor is now home to Warhol’s archive of contact sheets and negatives, covering the last 11 years of the prolific artist’s life. The donation includes 3,600 contact sheets and their corresponding negatives, and significantly expands Cantor’s existing Warhol collection.
The inaugural Warhol exhibition will take place in 2017, and the donation itself provides an invaluable teaching resource. Several departments, faculty and professional staff will collaborate on programs that will include study of the new material, and the collection will be digitized.
“It is an honor for these generous donors to provide these treasures to the Cantor,” Wolf said. “We are truly honored by their confidence in the museum’s commitment to making these works of art an enduring resource for students, faculty and the broader community.”