It was Frank Robinson, the Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art for nineteen years, who spearheaded our renewed commitment to contemporary art in the late 1990s, hiring the Johnson’s first curator of modern and contemporary art and establishing a new acquisition fund for the purchase of contemporary art. Even though he is a devoted Rembrandt scholar, Frank has always believed in the importance of presenting contemporary art. “It is very important for all of us, but especially for young people, to see, experience, and understand the art of our own time,” he has said. “Contemporary art is often difficult, challenging, even outrageous. Art museums, especially on college campuses, have an obligation to show this work, to put it in context, and to engage our audience. Also, as a collecting museum, we must make selective purchases of works that speak of the concerns of the early twenty-first century.”
The Contemporary Art Fund was established at the Johnson Museum in 2000 by Elizabeth and Alan Harris, Dorothy and Thomas Litwin, and Zita and Edward Rosenthal. As of May 26, 2011, donors to the fund include Helen and Robert Appel, Alix Beeney, William Berley, Judy and Jan Berman, Kay and Elliot Cattarulla, Maria and Donald Cox, Olivia and Kent Dohrman, Gale and Ira Drukier, Elke and Peter Greenberg, Richard Groos, Lisa and Thomas Groos, Sylvia and Ronald Hartman, Iva and Theodore Hochstim, Helen and Ronald Kramer, Janet and Robert Liebowitz, Sherry and Joel Mallin, Diann and Thomas Mann, Elizabeth and Fred McLafferty, Lynn and Alexander Minella, Margaret and William Mitchell, Carol and Charles Mund, Joan and Joel Picket, Gail Kweller Ripans and Allan Ripans, Margaret and Frank Robinson, Mary Ann Tower Rolland and William C. Rolland, Mary Carey Schaefer and John P. Schaefer, Madeline and Les Stern, John L. Sullivan III, Nicki and Harold Tanner, Lori Sarkisian Taylor and Stephen E. Taylor, Beth and Steven Treadway, and Genevieve and Richard Tucker.
The donations by so many generous alumni and friends to the fund have made possible the purchase of nearly sixty works of contemporary art in the past nine years. These works in all media by American, European, African, and Asian artists range from prints and drawings to paintings and sculpture as well as photography and video. The works presented in this gallery are just a small sampling of these recent additions to the Museum’s collection.
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art