PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University Museum of Art today announced a $10,000 grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation in support of an upcoming exhibition and book project, which celebrates a unique collection of works by exceptional American artists.  The exhibition, Works on Paper: American Art 1945-1975, will be presented from October through December.  As with all exhibitions at the museum, it will be free to the public.

The mission of the Robert Lehman Foundation is to fulfill and further Robert Lehman’s vision to support the visual arts in any fashion to increase the appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of this central aspect of our culture. Since his death in 1969, the Lehman foundation has operated exclusively in the field of the visual arts, with the goal of enhancing the role of art within American and world culture.

“We are especially happy to receive this gift from the prestigious Robert Lehman Foundation, in part because the realm of museums they support is so highly selective, such as the Metropolitan and Frick Museums in New York, the Seattle Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum and Yale University Art Gallery,” said Jill Aesoph, director of development for the museum.  “Building relationships with foundations and corporations supporting the arts will be increasingly important for us going forward, as we fundraise for a new facility for the Museum of Art.”

Jim Dine – 1975 11 – Untitled 1973
Andy Warhol – 1976 – Chairman mao

Chris Bruce, director of the museum, said, “The Museum of Art is fortunate to be counted along with six other museums as members of a unique organization known as the Washington Art Consortium. The works of art in this exhibition represent the original Consortium collection, which was created in 1975 to address the lack of world-class art in our region.  Recognizing the importance of preserving America’s art, a group of individuals, organized and funded by the Seattle patron Virginia Wright, devised a novel and ambitious plan to form a survey of American art of the post-war era, from 1945 – 1975.  The collection does not belong to any one museum, but is treated as a shared resource within seven art institutions in Washington State.  Because of the collection, the Washington Art Consortium evolved and became the first organization of its type in the nation.

Offering a glimpse into the artworks to be displayed, Keith Wells, curator of the museum, said, “The exhibition includes 97 works by 52 of the period’s most noted artists, including Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol.  The collection was originally acquired at modest cost with matching funds from Virginia Wright and the National Endowment for the Arts, and yet today the cost would be prohibitive.  Although individual works have been loaned to museums internationally, the entire collection has rarely been seen as a whole.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full color publication which will be distributed nationally.  Each work of art and each artist will be annotated with research conducted by WSU students under the supervision of Bruce, Wells and Zach Mazur, assistant curator.  The book will also bring together the history of this unique organization as well as Virginia Wright’s previously unpublished document of her presentation to the National Endowment for the Arts from 1979.

The Museum of Art is committed to enriching the community life of WSU, the region and the nation by providing meaningful encounters with creativity and innovation. It is located on Wilson Road across from Martin Stadium in the Fine Arts Center on the Pullman campus. Regular gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and closed on Sundays.  The Museum is currently closed for renovations until August 25, 2011. For more information please contact the museum at (509) 335-1910 or visit our website.