Baltimore Museum of Art receives gift of art from collectors Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida

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Baltimore Museum of Art receives gift of art from collectors Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida
Meleko Mokgosi, Pax Afrikaner, Good Boy, Panel 2, 2011. Promised gift of The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection.

BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that noted collectors and philanthropists Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida have gifted the museum a group of seven works by artists Radcliffe Bailey, Zander Blom, Moshekwa Langa, Clifford Owens, Adam Pendleton, and Purvis Young, plus two promised gifts of large-scale paintings by Meleko Mokgosi and Angel Otero that will come to the museum at a later date. The gift coincides with the September 29 opening of Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art, which draws on the extensive Joyner/Giuffrida collection as well as the BMA’s own holdings to examine the significant contributions that black artists have made to the development of abstraction from the 1940s to the present. The gifted works mark an important contribution toward the BMA’s ongoing vision to deepen its collection of contemporary art of Africa and the African diaspora. In 2018, Joyner and Giuffrida also made a promised gift of Odili Donald Odita’s Adorn (2018) to the BMA.

“We are incredibly grateful to Pamela and Alfred for their ongoing collaboration and support, both in working with the BMA to develop the Generations exhibition, which broadens our knowledge of the many artists of color that have shaped the course of modern and contemporary art, and for this generous gift that strengthens the BMA’s ability to tell a spectrum of narratives within our collection,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “We very much look forward to engaging visitors with the rich and layered history represented in Generations and to developing future presentations that take these new acquisitions as critical touchstones to understanding contemporary art and culture.”

The artists included in the Joyner and Giuffrida gift represent a wide range of geographies, from Mokgosi, who is originally from Botswana, to Bailey, who lives in Atlanta, to Owens, who was born in Baltimore and now resides in New York—enhancing the scope of cultural perspectives and histories held within the museum’s collection. Concurrently, the gift addresses certain collection gaps identified by the BMA across its holdings of contemporary assemblage, collage, and performance-based practices. Descriptions of the works follow below.

• Untitled (1999) by Radcliffe Bailey is a mixed media sculpture that marks the first work by the artist to enter the BMA’s collection. The sculpture is part of a body of work in which Bailey explored Africa as an idea and source of personal history and heritage. The work features an image of a Central African figure that sits within a glass box at the center of the assemblage. It is surrounded by diagrammatic lines that represent the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers, as well as other symbolic letters and markings. The work connects with other assemblage works in the BMA’s collection, including those by Louise Nevelson and Joyce J. Scott.

• Untitled (1.686) (2014) by Zander Blom is the first work by the artist to enter the BMA’s collection. The abstract oil on linen painting captures Blom’s compelling handling and use of paint as he explores its materiality and expressive capability. This acquisition expands the BMA’s growing holdings in contemporary materialist abstraction, creating further relationships with works by Lynda Benglis, Norman Lewis, and Frank Stella.

• Tshamahandze (2013) by Moshekwa Langa is an abstract painting made from a range of traditional and non-traditional materials, including acrylic, spray paint, salt, tea, and coffee. Langa’s incorporation of everyday products in his work expands the definition of painting and presents a compelling new formal language. His approach relates to and expands the aesthetic and conceptual dialogues of artists such as David Hammons and Ibrahim Mahama. This is the first work by Langa to enter the BMA’s collection.

• Pax Afrikaner: Good Boy (Panel 2) (2011) by Meleko Mokgosi will be the second oil painting by the artist to join the BMA’s collection and follows Meleko Mokgosi: Acts of Resistance, a solo presentation of the artist’s work organized by the BMA in 2018. The painting is part of the Pax Afrikaner series, which in the artist’s words “serves as a conceptual and theoretical working through of the double-bind caused by nation-state identification. Compelled by xenophobia and the continued xenophobic attacks in southern Africa, this project closely examines the implications of both the physical and epistemological violence towards black foreigners in southern Africa.”

• Blanket Weaver (2015) by Angel Otero will be the first object by the artist to enter the BMA’s collection. Otero’s practice engages with memory and the archiving of personal narratives. Drawing on his own experiences, popular cultural, as well as the trajectory of gestural painting, his works speak to the power of painting to express emotion and psychology to communicate universal truths. Otero often scrapes and transfers materials such as silicone and cadmium, as in the case of Blanket Weaver, to extend the possibilities of painting. In this way, his work relates to Abstract Expressionism and artists such as Jack Whitten.

• One for Ben Patterson (2011) by Clifford Owens marks the first object by the artist to enter the BMA’s collection and is currently on view as part of the museum’s new installation of its contemporary galleries, Every Day: Selections from the Collection. Owens practice is grounded in reclaiming, archiving, and revealing the history of black performance. This work on paper made with Vaseline and coffee is an outgrowth of a performance that Owens created in homage to Ben Patterson, a black artist who was integral to the Fluxus movement. It joins other performance-based works by Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger.

• Untitled (2013) by Adam Pendleton joins another text-based work by the artist in the BMA’s collection and follows the museum’s 2017 solo exhibition, Front Room: Adam Pendleton. The silkscreen exemplifies Pendleton’s practice of extracting images and texts related to socio-political movements and avant-garde art to disrupt and reconsider preconceived notions of history and culture, especially the broad conceptualization of blackness. The addition of this work furthers dialogues with other artists who re-orient language and images, including Barbara Kruger, Bruce Nauman, Andy Warhol, and Carrie Mae Weems.

• Freedom Horses (no date) and Angels of the Inner City (1970-1975) by Purvis Young are the first two works by the artist to enter the BMA’s collection. The paintings, both oils on wood panel, represent important recurring themes in Young’s work, particularly wild horses as symbols of freedom. The acquisition of these two works represents a growing focus on examining and collecting the work of self-trained artists as critical to understanding the full breadth of artistic practice within the United States.
Both One for Ben Patterson by Clifford Owens and Adorn by Odili Donald Odita are on view in Every Day: Selections from the Collection through January 5, 2020. The presentation for the other works is still being planned.

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