Major works of modern and contemporary art recently added to Honolulu Museum of Art's collection

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Major works of modern and contemporary art recently added to Honolulu Museum of Art's collection
Richard Misrach, "Untitled (July 20, 2013 2:02 pm)," 2013 (printed 2020) Archival pigment print mounted on Dibond. Gift of the artist in memory of James (Jay) Jensen, 2021.

HONOLULU.- Over the past six months, over a half dozen major works of contemporary art have been added to the Honolulu Museum of Art’s permanent collection in addition to a significant gift of 127 Japanese modern works.

Many of these recent contemporary acquisitions are currently on view at the museum: pioneering digital media artist Jennifer Steinkamp's Judy Crook 9, 2017, an almost ten-foot-high animated projection of a tree, contemporary Chinese artist Li Huayi's Pine Trees and Spring, 2008, an intricate landscape painting, American photographer Richard Misrach's Untitled (July 20, 2013 2:02 pm), 2013, a large-scale photograph from his On the Beach series begun while he was visiting Honolulu in 2001, and American artist Viola Frey's Fire Suit with Large Yellow Hands, 1983, a towering ceramic sculpture.

The recent acquisitions also include a rare signed print of an iconic photograph by Diane Arbus titled Xmas tree in a Living Room in Levittown, L.I., 1963, printed 1963.

“Each of these artists is a standout in their chosen medium,” said HoMA Director and CEO Halona Norton-Westbrook. “Their works help cultivate deep and meaningful conversations about issues that affect us all. We are so pleased to be able to add these innovative and iconic works to the permanent collection, continuing HoMA’s tradition of excellence and global perspectives.”

The works by Frey and Steinkamp were generously donated by Honolulu Museum of Art trustee Sharon Twigg-Smith. The works by Li Huayi and Misrach were gifts from the artists, and the Arbus photograph was donated by Jeffrey Fraenkel of the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. Said Norton-Westbrook, “We are so grateful to Sharon Twigg-Smith, Li Huayi, Richard Misrach, and Jeffrey Fraenkel for these exceptional gifts, strengthening the museum's ability to provide transformative art experiences for our community.”

Since its 1927 founding, the museum has been known for an exceptional art collection, with objects telling the story of Hawai‘i’s central role in the cultural exchange between East and West. “We’re building on this tradition of excellence that extends back to HoMA’s founding almost a hundred years ago,” said Norton-Westbrook. “And most important to that tradition was the desire to create something great for the community. The people who view it are ultimately what bring a collection to life.” The museum is currently refining its core art, educational, and programming efforts for the future, purposefully building its legacy around accessibility and serving Hawai‘i as a community resource.

A gift of 127 Japanese modern works

In May 2021, HoMA received a gift of 127 Japanese modern masterworks from collector Terry Welch. Consisting of 112 paintings and 15 objects, this gift significantly expands the museum’s important program in the Japanese modern period (from the beginning of the Meiji period in 1868 through the early 20th century). This period, which began with the opening of Japan to the outside world after more than two centuries of isolation, saw dramatic changes. The gift includes works by artists trained in the traditional studio system, who encouraged public education and promoted the arts as a way to modernize society and redefine Japan's national identity.

This gift provides HoMA with a comprehensive overview of the arts in early 20th century Japan, further solidifying the museum’s role as a leading institution in this field. Shawn Eichman, HoMA's Curator of Asian Art, said, "The artists represented in this gift played a pivotal role in transforming Japanese art at an especially exciting and dynamic moment in history, and their influence is still evident today." The museum is currently planning for a major future showing of this collection.

Said Norton-Westbrook, "These incredible additions to the Honolulu Museum of Art’s renowned collection keep us on our path to continuously refining, growing, and strengthening our collection, providing museum visitors access to world-class art experiences."

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