In mid-January, two of MoMA’s six curatorial departments—Painting and Sculpture, and Drawings and Prints—held acquisitions meetings to usher into the Museum’s collection new artist’s books, posters, fabric installations, painted sculptures, and more. These meetings take place quarterly and, over the course of the year, result in the addition of hundreds of works—spanning mediums, geographies, and histories—to create an overall collection that is continuously evolving.
Last week, Drawings and Prints added 17 works to the collection, by 13 artists including Ed Ruscha, Meg Cranston, Robert Gober, and Jonas Wood. The earliest of the group dates to 1918: a colorful Vibrationist portrait by the foundational Latin American modernist Rafael Barradas. The sitter’s face is obscured by geometric planes of color, but we know him to be fellow Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres-García, whose retrospective is currently on view at the Museum.
From nearly a century later is Kara Walker’s monumental triptych 40 Acres of Mules, drawn in charcoal, shown here.
Among the group of works acquired by Painting and Sculpture, several come to us from mid-career artists we’ve long been following in depth. Trinidad-based artist Chris Ofili is one example: in 1999 we acquired Prince amongst Thieves, a signature painting from the first part of his career, and last week we purchased The Raising of Lazarus, one of his finest works from the next period in his artistic development. Concurrently, Drawings and Prints acquired Ofili’s Black Shunga, a just-completed suite of 11 etchings whose inky backgrounds and dreamlike images pay homage to the Edo-period Japanese tradition of erotic printed art. At the other end of the spectrum, we ushered in paintings by artists not represented in MoMA’s collection until now, such as Kim Beom, as well works by artists new to this department, though not to the Museum. Three Girls is our first painting by William Johnson, a key figure of the Harlem cultural community between 1938 and 1944, and it joins seven prints we acquired a few years ago. For collectors, Johnson is an elusive figure; when he died in 1970, in near obscurity, the bulk of his life’s work was rescued by friends from disposal and donated to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Consequently the opportunity to acquire his works is extremely rare.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be spotlighting some of these exciting new additions to the collection. Get updates and behind-the-scenes insights about new acquisitions here and on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter using #MoMAcollects. We’re also continuing to feature last month’s acquisitions by the Media and Performance Art Department, such as Simone Forti’s landmark 1960s Dance Constructions. For all recent additions to the collection, visit the website.