Forward Thinking: Building the MAD Collection

MAD Unveils New Gifts in Honor of Opening of its New Home

Highlights Include Seminal Works by Judy Chicago, Betty Woodman, Robert Arneson, Dale Chihuly, Richard Meitner, and Ron Arad

New York, NY (September 18, 2008)

The Museum of Arts and Design presents an exhibition of major new gifts—including seminal works by Robert Arneson, Dale Chihuly, Judy Chicago, Ron Arad, Lino Tagliapietra, and Peter Voulkos, among others—that have been promised in honor of the opening of MAD’s new home at Columbus Circle. Forward Thinking: Building the MAD Collection showcases 45 stunning objects from the collections of 21 major contemporary art and design collectors from around the country, including longstanding museum patrons Jerome and Simona Chazen, Barbara and Donald Tober, and Nanette L. Laitman, as well as Aviva and Jack Robinson, Jane and Leonard Korman, and Daniel and Serga Nadler. In addition to these gifts from New York residents, the exhibition also features works from collectors across the United States. These promised gifts significantly enrich MAD’s growing permanent collection, which has nearly doubled in size since the new building project was announced in 2002. The exhibition opens as part of the inauguration of the new building on September 27 and will run through February 15, 2009.

“We are extremely grateful for the visionary support of our patrons, who through their munificence ensure the ongoing development of our collection for public enjoyment and education,” said Holly Hotchner, the Nanette L. Laitman Director of the Museum of Arts and Design. “Forward Thinking highlights a selection of these most recent gifts and pledges toward the Museum’s collection, a unique repository of contemporary art, craft and design from around the world.”

Forward Thinking features objects made from a variety of materials – from ceramics to silver, glass to bamboo – by contemporary artists and designers from around the world. These gifts further enhance of the scope of the museum’s collection, which was established in the 1950s when the American Studio Craft Movement was in its infancy. Today, the collection is global in scope and focuses on works in which craft, art, and design are seamlessly merged. Highlights from the exhibition include:

Judy Chicago’s The Creation (from the Birth Project) (1984), from the Audrey and Robert Cowan Collection. A pioneer of 20th-century art and of feminist thought, Chicago asserts the importance of overlooked and unrecognized contributions of women through her artworks and installations. The Creation, which is the largest tapestry ever made by the artist (18 feet in width), focuses on the germination of life and process of birth as a metaphor for human experience.

A stunning Cityscape Bowl in glass made in 1989 by Jay Musler from the collection of Jerome and Simona Chazen. Musler’s work comes from a series in which the artist explored the urban landscape using often apocalyptic imagery. This gift comes in addition to the Chazen’s previous donation of 40 modern and contemporary masterpieces in ceramics and glass by leading 20th-century artists.

American ceramic sculptor Robert Arneson’s Self-Portrait Bust made in 1977 from the Jane and Leonard Korman collection. Like his contemporary Peter Voulkos, Arneson challenged the functional pottery tradition by moving the medium of clay into the mainstream of contemporary sculpture. Throughout his lifetime, Arneson made a number of self-portrait busts, which explore issues of identity, often with humor, irony or pathos. This important work was created towards the end of Arneson’s life, when he was ill with cancer.

A talozimt, or ornamental clasp from Northern Algeria, given by Daniel and Serga Nadler. The Nadlers have donated their entire collection of global silver jewelry to the museum, comprised of 800 works from Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Russia, Turkmenistan, Thailand, and Southern China, among other countries. This beautifully enameled silver brooch, ornamented with coral cabochons, exemplifies those used to fasten the clothing of Beni Yenni women from the Great Kebiliye mountains. The collection given by the Nadlers resonates with design issues explored in MAD’s collection of studio jewelry.

A glass sculpture by Amsterdam-based Richard Meitner (Untitled, 1999), given by Aviva and Jack Robinson, who have been enthusiastic collectors of glass for many years. Meitner was among the early generations of artists to choose glass as their medium in the 1960s. Born to a family of scientists, Meitner’s interest in science is frequently expressed in his work, which often evokes the glass instruments used in the laboratory. Here, a porcelain figurine of a child placed above a wineglass is prominently featured under a bell jar shape, while a mysterious measuring gauge hangs at the opposite side in counterbalance.

Forward Thinking feature gifts from the following collectors: Dr. Jack and Marilyn Barrett; Arlene and Harvey Caplan; Simona and Jerome Chazen; Audrey and Robert Cowan; Marcia and Alan Docter; Sylvia Elsesser; Diane and Marc Grainer; Ann Kaplan and Robert Fippinger; Jane and Leonard Korman; Nanette Laitman; Lynn and Jeffrey Leff; Sara and David Lieberman; Mimi Livingston; Jane and Arthur Mason; Serga and Daniel Nadler; Aviva and Jack Robinson; Linda Leonard Schlenger; Phyllis and Alfred Selnick; Barbara and Donald Tober; and Judith Weisman.

The Museum of Arts and Design explores how craft, art, and design intersect in the visual arts today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the handmade to cutting-edge technologies. The exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by creative and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1945 to the present day.

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