Seattle Art Museum, Yale Receive ‘Transformative’ Gifts of Modern Art by Rothko, Krasner, More

Works by Mark Rothko, Helen Frank Frankenthaler, Francis Bacon, and more modern masters are heading to the Seattle Art Museum as a part of a landmark gift. The museum announced on Thursday that it has received 19 artworks from the Friday Foundation, led by the heirs of the late Seattle arts collectors and patrons Jane Lang Davis and Richard Lang. The gift also carries $10.5 million in funds dedicated to the museum’s postwar and contemporary art conservation programs.

In addition to the modern pieces en route to Seattle, six works by Franz Kline and Rothko will go to the Yale University Art Gallery. The gift, which includes early works by the artists, will be on display in an upcoming exhibition.

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The Seattle Art Museum gift comprises works by 19 works by 15 leading American and European postwar artists. Female Abstract Expressionists are represented with large-scale works, with Lee Krasner’s Night Watch (1960) among the works headed to the museum. A turbulent canvas of black, brown and creamy white, it was produced during a period of severe insomnia.

A 10-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture David Smith, Cubi XXV (1965), is also headed to the museum. The gift of the Smith is rare, in that few monumental sculptures by him are held privately, and a different “Cubi” sculpture sold at auction in 2005 for $23.8 million. Also included in the gift is one of the first pieces in Robert Motherwell’s “Elegy” series and a self-portrait by Philip Guston from his late figurative period. Alongside these pieces were works by Joan Mitchell, Alberto Giacometti, and more.

“This gift of all-star works will transform SAM’s collection of post-war artists from a beautiful collection of soloists into a symphony,” Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s curator of modern and contemporary art, said in a statement.

The entire gift will be on display at SAM this fall, along with portraits of Jane and Richard Lang by Andy Warhol and Alice Neel, respectively.


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