“The Art of Collecting” (APS Professional Session at CAA 2016)
Friday, February 6, 12:30-2:00 pm
Washington 6, Exhibition Level
Co-Chairs: Elizabeth Rudy and Freyda Spira
The Art of Collecting
When tasked with building a collection of prints for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1916, William Ivins set forth a clear mandate. He declared, “the print collection of a museum cannot be formed solely upon Yes and No answers to the question: Is it a work of art? Rather it must be, like the library of a professor of literature, composed of a corpus of prints in themselves distinctly works of art, filled out and illustrated by many prints which have only a technical historical importance. To make a museum collection on strictly aesthetic grounds would perforce end in amassing a body of material which would reflect rather the immediate personal predilections of the group of men who formed it than anything else.”
This session seeks to examine how specific collections of works on paper were thoughtfully and methodically assembled from the very beginning. In cases where inaugural curators or collectors recorded their objectives, how apt are these in hindsight? Who was identified and anticipated as the audience for the collection, and how did that impact the collectors’ goals for acquisitions? How did the collectors’ organizing principles – the internal categorization – play a role in the collections’ formation and development?
Angela Campbell, Assistant Conservator, The Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper and Photograph Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
A Study in Contrast: Dürer Impressions at the Albertina and at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The almost-250-year-old Graphic Art Collection of the Albertina has one impression each of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I and St. Jerome in His Study as well as two traditional impressions of Knight, Death, and the Devil (a third is printed on silk). All of the impressions on paper are strong, dark, and rich, and were carefully designated as “best” after extensive impression comparison by Joseph Meder, Director of the Albertina from 1905-1923. In contrast, the 100-year-old Prints Department (now the Department of Drawings and Prints) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has 14 impressions of Dürer’s Meisterstiche, making it the largest group of Meisterstiche impressions anywhere in the world. Many of the impressions are excellent, but several are weak; however, all were knowledgeably and intentionally acquired. Due to different departmental and institutional needs, the two prestigious museums made widely diverging decisions as it relates to curatorial collecting over the course of their histories; this has markedly impacted how scholars access the two collections, today.
Leslie Cozzi, Curatorial Associate, UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum
The Romance of Reparation: The Founding Collection of the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum
The history of Fred Grunwald’s collection reads like a film treatment. Grunwald was a young German army veteran who began collecting contemporary works on paper while recuperating from World War I, only to have the majority of them seized and labelled “degenerate” a decade and a half later. A leading member of the Jewish community, Grunwald (and what remained of his collection) narrowly escaped Germany in 1939 thanks largely to an injury sustained during his prior military service which had left him amputated below the left knee. After World War II, he began collecting again in Los Angeles, this time more systematically, and established the nucleus of what would become the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. This paper examines the formation, dismantling, and reformation of Grunwald’s collection, exploring how a series of reparations and reconstructions formed the basis for one of the country’s most important university print cabinets.
Innis Howe Shoemaker, The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
From Marketplace to Museum: Carl Zigrosser as Curator
This paper examines the distinguished career of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s first professional curator of prints and drawings, Carl Zigrosser (1891-1975). When he arrived from the Weyhe Gallery, New York in 1940, his charge was to build on a collection formed unsystematically, mostly from gifts. With ingenuity, keen alertness to opportunity, and limited funds he rapidly built a group of supporters and took advantage of the connections he made with artists and collectors during his years at Weyhe. Rather than a “connoisseur or collector type,” Zigrosser classified himself as an “adventurous [kind of curator]…involved with history and the social and aesthetic significance of prints.” Clearly identifying his audiences as the general public, collectors, and artists, he built up strengths in still-affordable areas (French 18th-19th century; American and Mexican 1910-1950), assembled complete print oeuvres of Hopper, Marin, and Sloan, created collections of subject prints, and added photography (Stieglitz, Atget, Weston).