Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection

Apr 14, 2014

Roy Lichtenstein, Painting with Statue of Liberty, 1983. Oil and Magna on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, collection of Robert and Jane Meyerhoff. 1966.81.6 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.

SAN FRANCISCO (March 31, 2014)—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco present Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, an exhibition of 46 paintings and sculptures by many of the leading figures in postwar American art. The de Young is the sole venue for this exhibition, which includes works by Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, and Frank Stella.

Among the featured paintings will be Stella’s Flin Flon IV (1969), Jasper Johns’s Perilous Night (1982), and Roy Lichtenstein’s Painting with Statue of Liberty (1983). A centerpiece of the exhibition will be Barnett Newman’s The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani (1958–1966), a cycle of 15 paintings which will be presented in a dedicated room and experienced as the artist intended, as a single work in an intimate, contemplative space. A film of Newman discussing this work will be screened in the media room near the Herbst Exhibition Galleries.

“The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s longstanding relationship with the National Gallery of Art has enabled numerous works from the nation’s capital to be shown in our city,” says Colin B. Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Over the course of 50 years, Robert and the late Jane Meyerhoff assembled an unparalleled collection, and this marks the first time that a significant portion of it has been displayed outside the Washington-Baltimore area.”

In the late 1950s, the Baltimore-based real estate developer and philanthropist Robert E. Meyerhoff and his wife, Jane Meyerhoff, began collecting works by artists who rose to prominence in the wake of World War II. Over time, the Meyerhoffs also focused on the generation of artists who followed the Abstract Expressionists—Johns, Kelly, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Stella—all of whom became close friends of the couple.

By the 1990s, the Meyerhoff Collection had expanded to include the rising cohort of artists who sought to reinvigorate the practice of painting in the postmodern era, such as Eric Fischl, Nancy Graves, Brice Marden, David Salle and Terry Winters. Seen together, the works in this exhibition allow visitors to explore deeply the visual and intellectual concerns that have defined American art since the middle of the 20th century.

In 1987, the Meyerhoffs signed an agreement with the National Gallery of Art for the eventual donation of their entire collection. This current exhibition consists of all the paintings and scuptures given to date, supplemented by six promised works from Mr. Meyerhoff’s own galleries.

“With the closing of the East Building galleries for renovation and expansion,” explained Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern art at the National Gallery of Art, “it made perfect sense to lend this amazing group of works. Thanks to the interest of Richard Benefield, deputy director of the Fine Arts Museums, everything fell into place. The generous galleries of the de Young will offer the ideal setting for these ambitious, imposing paintings.”

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Exhibition Organization
This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Presenting Sponsors: Penny and James George Coulter. Director’s Circle: Estate of Dr. Charles L. Dibble. President’s Circle: Bernard Osher Foundation. Curator’s Circle: Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. Conservator’s Circle: National Endowment for the Arts and the S. Grace Williams Trust. Benefactor’s Circle: Nion T. McEvoy. Patron’s Circle: Carol and Shelby Bonnie, Richard and Peggy Greenfield, the Ednah Root Foundation, and Dorothy Saxe, and Sotheby’s. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Visiting \ de Young
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. Open 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. Tuesdays–Sundays; open select holidays; closed most Mondays.

Admission Tickets
Tickets start at $20 for adults and include general admission; discounts are available for seniors, students, and youths. FAMSF Members and children five and under are admitted free. Tickets available at Prices subject to change.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and was established as the Memorial Museum. Thirty years later, it was renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, a longtime champion of the museum. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It showcases the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international contemporary art.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion, a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The museum opened in 1924 in the Beaux Arts–style building designed by George Applegarth on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its holdings span four thousand years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

Images from all exhibitions and museums available upon request.

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