This week the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) announced that it had reached its goal of securing 125 gifts for its permanent collection in honor of the museum’s 125th anniversary. The acquisitions range from Old Master paintings to works of contemporary design. Among the highlights is a trio of El Greco paintings including a depiction of Saint Luke; a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Ito Shinsui from 1917; a 17th-century ink on silk painting by the Chinese artist Zhang Chong; a beaded black silk taffeta and chiffon evening dress by Jeanne Lanvin; and a mid-19th-century sofa and two side chairs by Leon Marcotte.
Also notable is the 1929 sculpture depicting a Harlem street urchin by Augusta Savage, entitled Gamin, which represents the first acquisition of a work by an African American woman artist to be added to the museum’s American collection. As curator Harriet Warkel has pointed out on the IMA’s blog, Savage joins a growing list of African Americans artists represented within the museum that includes Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence (a student of Savage’s), William H. Johnson, Joseph Delaney, and Robert Duncanson.
Ellen W. Lee, Wood-Pullian Distinguished Senior Curator at the IMA, spearheaded the gift initiative sixteen months ago, which saw participation from more than sixty donors. Strategic additions to the collection were sought, including William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Dream of Spring, which, Lee remarks, “Brings new strength to the IMA’s representation of French academic painting.” Lee also points out that holdings of American works on paper grew dramatically with the addition of prints by Stuart Davis, Charles Burchfield, Milton Avery, John Marin, and Walt Kuhn.
The IMA has an encyclopedic collection of over 54,000 works of art that represents over 5,000 years of art history. Some of the new gifts are already on view in the museum’s galleries, including a three-story fluorescent light installation by Robert Irwin that was commissioned for the landmark anniversary and unveiled this past October. Also to mark the occasion, a new book chronicling the history and founding of the museum, Every Possible Way: 125 Years of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, was written by Anne P. Robinson and S. L. Berry.