A Year of Making
Meaning: New Additions to the Collection 2018 highlights some of
the numerous works collected by FWMoA last year. We consider it part of our
mission to satisfy our public’s desire for new artists and artwork in our
collection. Like many museums our size, we are unable to display the entirety
of our collection at once or even throughout the year. This exhibition is one
of the ways we can showcase some of our brightest stars.
Our collecting philosophy is to continually fill the gaps in our collection in order to build logical sub-collections within the whole of the permanent collection, primarily focusing on 20th century American art. It is from these sub-collections that we create an array of exhibitions that continually change throughout the year. Museum president and CEO, Charles Shepard III, searches auction houses, galleries, and private collections year-round for artwork to expand our collection, employing his deal-seeking acquisition style to regularly bring artwork to Fort Wayne that will excite and educate our community.
At first glance, A Year of Making Meaning’s selections may have little in common with one another, but together they are slices of the harmonious collection we are building. While we typically focus on 20th century American art, exceptions are made for artists just outside these parameters. For instance, this exhibit features work by international artists Max Ernst, visionary from the German Bauhaus school, French Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, and Japanese printmakers such as Kotozuka Eiichi.
There are diverse styles and mediums explored within this small selection of FWMoA’s recent acquisitions. Though the pieces selected for this show by no means encompass all we have collected in the past year, you’ll see a range of work, including contemporary painting, photography, installations, and prints. By keeping an eye open for blue-chip works of art such as these, Shepard makes sure that FWMoA has the ability to present our visitors with quality exhibitions for generations.
Mark Suedhoff & Wray McCalester
While collectors often donate a small number of works to FWMoA, there are instances where individuals choose to donate or bequeath most of their collection to the museum. This is the case for the two collections displayed in this gallery. Mark Suedhoff’s collection was bequeathed to FWMoA after his passing, and Wray McCalester donated his in life. Collectors often donate most or all of their collections in order to preserve their reputation as savvy art collectors and keep their collection together. Collections are often acquired deliberately, with owners thinking critically about which art they like and why they collect what they do. By keeping their collection in tact through donation, collectors are able to solidify their reputation as shrewd art investors while also supplementing FWMoA’s collection.
The works of art in this gallery were all donated by artists or collectors. One question that visitors often have is, “Why do people choose to donate to a museum?” Artists tend to donate to a museum, at least FWMoA, because they believe in what we’re doing as an institution. They appreciate our commitment to American art, both historical and modern, and artists want their work to be part of a museum that they believe in. The artists who donate to FWMoA trust that we’ll not only take care of their work, but will honor their artistic integrity and place in the ongoing timeline of art history.
Collectors donate for a number of different reasons. While, like artists, collectors often believe in FWMoA’s mission, they typically have more than one motivation. One purpose, quite simply, is for tax purposes. When collectors have a large number of works and eventually start downsizing, they have the opportunity to donate to FWMoA an receive a tax break. Another possibility is that they simply want to mix up their collection. Our homes have a finite amount of space in which to display art, and one way to continue collecting is to donate work in order to fill the new space with new artwork. In either of these situations, FWMoA is happy to help artists and collectors who are looking to downsize or make a change in their collection.
When perusing action houses and galleries for artwork, Charles is always keeping two basic principles in mind. Does a work of art fit well in sections of FWMoA’s collection that have holes? Can we get work by a certain artist below market price? The first question – does a work of art fit well in the collection – helps us recognize which works of art will add historical and artistic value to FWMoA’s permanent collection. In order to answer this question, we look at our collection holistically and figure out which areas we need to flesh out. For instance, Don Nice is included in this exhibition, and he was a Pop Artist. While we have works from the Pop Art era, we don’t have them from every artist, so Nice’s recent inclusion helps fill this gap.
The second question – can we get work by a certain artist below market price – is a little trickier to explain. Acquiring a work under market value does not mean that a work isn’t valuable or important – it simply means that we have to search for work that may be under the radar of large collectors. Again, Nice is a good example of this. While Nice was a Pop Artist, he didn’t come on to the art scene until the end of Pop Art’s popularity. As a result, while he’s still a well-known artist, his work doesn’t command the same gravitas as other big names like Andy Warhol. This allows us to purchase Nice’s work at an affordable price while adding quality work to FWMoA’s permanent collection.