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Exhibition highlights one of the world's leading private collections of works on paper
Vincent van Gogh, Avenue of Pollard Birches and Poplars, March 1884. Reed pen and iron-gall ink on tan laid paper, 192 x 265 mm. The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray.



BERKELEY, CA.- One of the world’s leading private collections of European and American works on paper has gone on view at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive this summer, highlighting a major new gift to the museum’s collection. The Enduring Mark: Six Centuries of Drawing from the Gray Collection illuminates the holdings of Richard and Mary L. Gray, who assembled a remarkable collection of works spanning multiple centuries of Western art history with a primary focus on representations of the human figure. Among the more than eighty drawings featured in the exhibition are fifteen that have been donated to BAMPFA, including works by Francesco Guardi, Eugene Delacroix, Theodore Gericault, Paul Klee, Juan Gris, and Joan Miro.

The Gray Collection was established by the prominent Chicago-based art collectors and philanthropists Richard Gray (1928–2018) and Mary L. Gray, who assembled one of the most distinctive collections of European and American drawing in private hands. Spanning centuries of Western art, the collection reflects the Grays’ particular historical and aesthetic interests, with strengths in drawings from the Italian Renaissance, seventeenth-century Holland, nineteenth-century France, and the postwar United States. While their collection includes notable landscape, still-life, and abstract drawings, the large majority of their holdings are depictions of the human form, reflecting the Grays’ belief that these images—as represented through the distinctively intimate and probing medium of drawing—offer a unique window into artists’ understanding of the human condition. Their collection encompasses rare and fragile works on paper by some of the most celebrated masters in historical Western art, including Peter Paul Rubens, François Boucher, Giovanni Antonio Canaletto, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning—all of whom are represented in the BAMPFA exhibition.




The Enduring Mark is organized chronologically to illustrate the trajectory of artistic and historical influences that have shaped depictions of the human figure in Western art over the past six centuries. A particular focus of the exhibition is the variations of early figurative practices in different Italian cities during the Renaissance era, and the impacts of these movements on subsequent generations of artists elsewhere on the European continent. The vibrant artistic cultures of Bologna, Rome, and Venice are a central focus of the exhibition, given their distinctive and mutually influential roles in the development of European figurative drawing practices. Among the selected works are fifteen important drawings that are gifts to BAMPFA from Richard and Mary L. Gray.

The Enduring Mark is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, which has published an illustrated catalog on the Gray Collection that is available to purchase in the BAMPFA store. The exhibition was previously on view at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City; the BAMPFA presentation is curated by the museum’s Director Emeritus Lawrence Rinder.

“As audiences return to BAMPFA this summer after a long hiatus, we’re delighted to welcome them back with this presentation from one of the world’s finest collections of European and American works on paper, offering visitors the opportunity to see exquisite examples of draftsmanship and artistic expression while also learning about historical connections among countries and across centuries,” said Rinder. “We’re deeply grateful to the Gray family for entrusting BAMPFA with fifteen exceptional works from this outstanding collection, which will broaden and deepen the museum’s existing strengths in the field of European art.”

“The Gray family’s generous bequest to BAMPFA will have a powerful positive impact—an enduring mark, if you will—on the museum’s European art collection and on art lovers across the Bay Area, where material of this kind is very seldom seen,” said BAMPFA Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm. “The works in this exhibition span centuries of art history and are particularly relevant given the renewed interest in figurative painting and drawing among a new generation of artists exploring diversity and representation in these more traditional art forms. We hope that The Enduring Mark will be especially meaningful to students of drawing who can closely view these historical works’ approaches to the figure, gesture, and mark-making.”










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