An exceptional collection of 20th century art assembled over a decade by late collectors Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang will find permanent homes and be accessible to the public at the Seattle Art Museum
and the Yale University Art Gallery.
The Friday Foundation, established to realize the Langs passion and philanthropy, today announced gifts of 19 masterworks and $10.5 million in dedicated funds to the Seattle Art Museum. In addition, the Friday Foundation announced a gift of six specifically chosen artworks to the Yale University Art Gallery.
Longtime philanthropists and arts supporters, the Langs wanted to ensure a strong, diverse, and vibrant arts community. To help achieve this, they imagined a gift that would first and foremost share with the public their own rich experience of engaging thoughtfully, deeply, and personally with compelling objects and, through them, their creators. They hoped to inspire others to join the arts community by engaging with local organizations, and perhaps collecting themselves, and, ultimately, giving back as they did, thus enriching the lives of future generations. These gifts by the Friday Foundation follow the announcement in October 2020 of monetary gifts totaling $9 million to nine Seattle arts organizations.
The Langs thoroughly enjoyed sharing their collection and frequently opened their home to artists, scholars, students, museum groups and other collectors from around the world to experience the art. During their lifetimes, the Langs enjoyed hosting these visitors and always planned for works from their art collection to be accessible to the public. Living with the artworks in their Seattle-area home, they collected with a discerning eye, assembling one of the most important collections in the United States, including exceptional examples of Abstract Expressionism and post-war European modernism. Their art collection, which was displayed entirely in their home, was distinguished by its quality, rather than size.
Donation Makes Seattle Art Museums Post-War Collection Soar
The Friday Foundations signature gift is to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), the institution closest to the Langs hearts. SAM has received 19 artworks that formed the core of the Lang Collection. Iconic artworks by Francis Bacon, Lee Krasner, Clyfford Still, Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell and David Smith, are exceptional examples of their best work.
Lyn Grinstein, President of Friday Foundation and daughter of Jane Lang Davis, said, The gift of artworks to the Seattle Art Museum represents the richest core of my mothers and stepfathers fearlessly disciplined and tightly focused art collecting decade, as well as their commitment to the museum.
Taken together, these 19 artworks tell that story to the highest level possible, while each one individually is a definitive example of each artists work, Grinstein said. The accompanying gift of funds provides support for the museums ambitious agenda, particularly the presentation and care of not only these artworks, but also those already at SAM and future gifts from other donors. With these gifts, we fulfill my mothers and Richards conviction that a strong cultural sector is a critical pillar of a thriving community and honor their dedication to Seattle, its citizens, and its future.
Don Hussong, Jane Lang Davis son, said, Our family enjoyed the company of these artworks for many years. Many special family events took place by the David Smith sculpture that was such a source of joy for my mother. We will keep the stories of having lived around the collection, and now others will make their own visiting them.
Amada Cruz, SAMs Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, said, This extraordinary gift from the Friday Foundation is transformational for the Seattle Art Museum. The 16 paintings, one drawing and two sculptures form a breathtaking ensemble that will allow visitors to study one of the greatest collections in our region with excellent representations of work by some of the most important figures in Abstract Expressionism and post-war art. Each work is a stellar example of the artists oeuvre and attests to the discerning eyes and discipline of the Langs, who only collected the best.
Many of the artworks donated to SAM represent a first for its collection: The first major paintings by Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell, the first Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still, the first paintings with iconic compositions by Adolph Gottlieb and Robert Motherwell, and, especially important considering the museums post-war European holdings, the first paintings by Francis Bacon and a major sculpture by Alberto Giacometti.
The Lang Collection will make the museums collection of post-war art soar, Cruz said. Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis were longtime trustees and supporters of SAM, and this gift attests to the continued commitment of the family to the institution and, indeed, the City of Seattle. We are honored to be the custodians of this important collection, which will become the keystone for future exhibitions and installations.
In addition to artwork, Friday Foundation has donated a total of $14.5 million to SAM. Today alone, Friday Foundation announced gifts totaling $10.5 million to SAM, including funds to support SAMs post-war and contemporary art conservation programs, purchase technical equipment for art conservation, and to fund costs related to presenting the Lang Collection and other artworks. The Friday Foundation previously announced among other gifts its contribution of $2 million to the Seattle Art Museums Closure Relief Fund, and $2 million to endow the Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Acquisition Fund for Global Contemporary Art. Included in todays gift announcement is an additional $200,000 to inaugurate this acquisition fund so the museum can begin acquiring artworks without waiting for endowment distributions.