The Baltimore Museum of Art announced this week that it has received a promised gift from Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff of 90 works of art by nearly 70 artists.
The collection includes works by artists who are based in or have strong ties to Baltimore, including Larry Cook; Roland Freeman; Connie Imboden; Soledad Salame; Elizabeth Talford Scott and Stephen Towns.
The gift comes one year after the museum received a $5 million donation from Dorman and Mazaroff to establish a center dedicated to the presentation, study and preservation of its 65,000-object collection of prints, drawings and photographs. The Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs is scheduled to open in December, the same time as the Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies.
The collection that makes up the current donation includes works by Grace Hartigan; Hans Hofmann; Helen Frankenthaler; Louise Lawler; Alfredo Jaar and Andres Serrano. Other paintings, sculpture, textiles, mixed-media works, and decorative arts among the gifts include works by Anthony Caro, Leonardo Drew, Sam Gillam, Hun-Chung Lee, and Sarah Sze.
Last winter and spring, the museum acquired 175 objects by purchase and gift that encompass a wide range of contemporary art in various media, as well as historic objects that add artistic and cultural significance to its collections. Most of the works are the first by the artist in the museum’s collection.
As part of its acquisitions, the BMA and The Menil Collection in Houston will co-commission The SNCC Manifestoes, a multi-channel video installation by the celebrated British-Ghanaian artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. The video will explore the work and impact of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, as chronicled by Baltimore-based historian Taylor Branch.
Other gifts or promised gifts are from BMA Board Chair Clair Zamoiski Segal and longtime supporters Stuart and Sherry Christhilf.
“These acquisitions represent an incredible range of artistic achievement as well as the commitment of the BMA’s curatorial team to bringing new and important voices into our collections,” said Christopher Bedford, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director, in a statement.
“Over the past several years, we have been focused on rectifying critical omissions in our Post-War and contemporary holdings as part of an effort to tell a truer narration of art history. We are now looking further in history and across geography and culture to reveal artists, artworks, and innovations that may have gone under-recognized in centuries past to shift the conversation around collections diversification from the modern era to the history that underpins it. I look forward to working with our talented curators and team on this effort, and am grateful to donors like Nancy and Stan, who continue to support our vision and ongoing work.”
According to the museum, newly acquired works by Baltimore-based or Baltimore-born artists are by:
- Derrick Adams (b. 1970, Baltimore) Style Variation 34, 2020. Adams’s multidisciplinary practice embraces painting, collage, performance, sound, fashion, and mixed-media installation, and focuses in particular on the formations of Black experience and self-image. The Style Variations series includes 20 monumental works inspired by the wig shops of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where Adams has lived and worked for more than 15 years.
- Mequitta Ahuja (b. 1976, Baltimore) Six paintings and works on paper, including From the Dispersed Folio of Mocoonama, 2013; Mother, 2019; and Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2020, provide a snapshot of the evolution and creative breadth of Ahuja’s practice, which always begins in self-portraiture. In her early series, she disrupts largely Eurocentric artistic and historical narratives, while more recent works are intimate portrayals of grief and dissolution tied to her mother’s battle with and death from cancer.
- FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (founded 2010; Baltimore, Maryland, and 2014 Mexico City, Mexico). Ten blocks from The Monument Quilt, 2013–2019, and digital archive. FORCE was an art and activist collective dedicated to constructing a culture of consent. TheMonument Quilt, their largest project, represents a massive effort from artists, activists, healers, and visionaries to create the first national memorial to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. FORCE was founded by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle. FORCE collective members Mora Fernández and Shanti Flagg, along with Brancato, are leading the effort to archive 750 blocks created by 3,000 survivors and allies. The BMA worked closely with this team to select 10 blocks that center on Baltimore experiences and amplify the stories of Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ+, and/or immigrant survivors across the quilt’s six-year history.
- Jerrell Gibbs (b. 1988, Baltimore) For Thomas, 2021. Gibbs’s painting practice is focused on figurative representation that conveys the multilayered experiences of Black people, including his own family and social world in Baltimore. For Thomas depicts poet Kondwani Fidel (b. 1993, Baltimore) with Gibbs’s lush and emotive style.
- Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee, 1957-2018) The Fire Within, Goshorn combined traditional and experimental weaving techniques for this seven-pointed, star-shaped basket. The artist was known for her intricate iconography that critiqued the cultural and historic frictions between state and Native American tribal governments.
- Taha Heydari (b. 1986, Tehran, Iran) Monarchy, 2020. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Heydari draws from the covers of the Iranian women’s magazine Zan-e Rooz (Woman of Today), published before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, to examine the ways in which media representations and cultural ruptures generate ideology and cascading trauma. For Monarchy, he has recreated a photograph of the Shah and royal Pahlavi family as a normal middle-class family through a myriad of web-like and impasto painting techniques.
- SHAN Wallace (b. 1991, Baltimore) This unique portfolio of 16 photographs includes Sandtown, 2015; Hoodversary, 2016; FAM, 2018; and Tender, 2020. Wallace’s photography archives and documents varied cultural and political narratives of Black life, while also confronting oppressive social and political regimes. This portfolio was developed by the artist in collaboration with BMA curators as a survey of themes from the first five years of her practice. Wallace’s first solo museum exhibition, SHAN Wallace: 410, was presented by the BMA in 2020, and her mural project, The Avenue is currently installed on a construction fence surrounding part of the museum.
Additional acquisitions by artists with ties to Baltimore include three paintings by Lillian Hoover, a lithograph by Margo Humphrey, two photographs by Clifford Owens, mixed-media works by Shinique Smith, Wickerham & Lomax, Jowita Wyszomirska, and Monsieur Zohore, as well as additional photographs by Connie Imboden, separate of those in the gift from Dorman and Mazaroff. The BMA also acquired Bessemer Furnace at Bethlehem Steel Company in Sparrows Point, 1951, a photograph by A. Aubrey Bodine.
New contemporary works in the museum’s collection are by:
- Theaster Gates (b. 1973, Chicago) Covered Vessel, 2015, and Stack, 2012. The two promised gifts from Baltimore collectors Stuart and Sherry Christhilf will be the first works by the acclaimed artist to enter the BMA’s collection. Both sculptures explore labor in its varied forms, combining strategies from construction and in particular from roofing—Gates’s father’s trade—and ceramics in connection with art, personal memory, and politics.
- Ficre Ghebreyesus (Eritrean, 1962-2012) Red Room, 2002-05. Ghebreyesus’s works simultaneously embrace abstraction and figuration and lush fantasies and historical narratives about the transatlantic slave trade. In this work, he references cultural entanglements from the western Nigerian region, from the Yoruba religion to the Benin Kingdom, while also making a direct nod to Matisse and his red room paintings.
- Rashid Johnson (b. 1977, Chicago) Fatherhood, 2015. The ambitious multi-media installation is part of Johnson’s exploration of Black cultural objects and interior space. Fatherhood captures a critical moment in Johnson’s practice through a formal and conceptual engagement with everyday objects. This immersive gridded steel work brings together sculptural busts, books, potted plants, and grow lights in the form of a living and dynamic work of art.
- Lorraine O’Grady (b. 1934, Boston) Untitled (Mlle Bourgeoise Noire), 1980-83. The 14 photographs that comprise this performance documentation were taken at O’Grady’s intervention at the opening of the New Museum’s 1981 Persona Performing as her alter-ego Miss Bourgeoise Noire, O’Grady invaded the presentation of all white artists to claim space for herself and other Black practitioners.
- Tschabalala Self (b. 1990, New York) Two Women 3, 2021. This monumental painting was created as part of Self’s exhibition Tschabalala Self: By My Self, on view through September 19, 2021. One of the artist’s most significant achievements to date, Two Women 3 culminates a suite of three paintings that Self made in response to Henri Matisse’s bronze Two Women in the BMA’s Cone Collection.
- Faye Toogood (b. 1977, London) Roly-Poly Chair / Water, 2016. British designer Toogood’s crystal chair has become a 21st century furniture icon. Conceived during the artist’s first pregnancy, the maternal design of the chair promotes a woman’s body as the foundation of form and creativity. The BMA also acquired Toogood’s maquette to document the work’s design history.
- Jade Snow Wong (American, 1922-2006) Bowl, Wong was a San Francisco-based ceramicist, enameller, and author best known for her brightly colored enameled copper tableware. Additionally, her first memoir Fifth Chinese Daughter, published in 1950, is a canonical and widely taught and critiqued work of East Asian American literature.
Segal, the museum’s board chair, gave the museum nine prints and works on paper by David Hockney, Jan Groover, Valerie Jaudon, Brice Marden, Robert Rauschenberg, and Joel Shapiro, as well as a sculpture by Dorothy Dehner. Segal also made a promised gift of two photographs by Clifford Owens that were recently presented at the BMA as part of Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect that the gift from Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff was a promised gift, not an immediate gift.