Published: May 11, 2004
Works from the JPMorgan Chase Collection at the Bruce Museum
The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science will present “Off the Wall: Works from the JPMorgan Chase Collection,” May 15-September 12.
This exhibition presents a rare chance to see selections from the renowned JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, one of the foremost corporate art collections, which includes both classic modern as well as the best contemporary works of art.
The exhibition focuses on the drawings in the collection, which are especially important not only because they mirror the collecting focus from its inception in 1959 to the present, but also because drawing itself has become one of the most significant means of expression in the late Twentieth Century. Featured will be approximately 65 two-dimensional and sculptural works, all defined as drawings and selected from a collection of more than 20,000 artworks that are installed in JPMorgan Chase offices worldwide.
The collection was begun in 1959 under the guidance of David Rockefeller, then president of the bank. Rockefeller notes in his memoirs that the art program became a powerful expression of the bank’s enlightened role in modern culture. The initial decision to collect both emerging and midcareer artists was made with the assistance of a selection committee of five leading museum directors and curators. Over the years, the committee has included such illustrious names in the art field as Alfred Barr and Dorothy Miller of MoMA; Perry Rathbone from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and scholars James Johnson Sweeney and Robert Rosenblum.
In 1984, more than 1,200 works, approximately one-fifth of the contemporary collection at the time, were drawings. Today the larger and more diverse collection includes 4,000 drawings.
Among the best-known artists whose works are on view in the exhibition are Chuck Close and Andy Warhol. Close’s process – the restriction of his virtuosity within the grid and by a mind-boggling exactitude of building his work out of small units – can be seen in “Phil/Fingerprint,” which is made of thousands of individual stamped transfers of Close’s fingerprint to the paper. Close refers, quite humorously, to drawing “by hand” while refuting the use of hand drawn line.
Warhol created a more mechanized and impersonal result by casting images on the wall with an opaque projector and tracing them directly. Warhol’s drawing in this exhibition, “Untitled (Campbell’s Tomato Soup)” dates from 1985, two years before his death, and is a free hand reworking of perhaps his most famous subject.
The museum is at 1 Museum Drive. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday 1 to 5 pm. For information, 203-869-0376 or www.brucemuseum.org
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