Seattle Art Museum receives gift of 19 artworks, worth approximately $400 million

Seattle Art Museum receives gift of 19 artworks, worth approximately $400 million

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) received a grand gift Thursday: a charitable donation of 19 “exceptional” artworks from the Friday Foundation, which celebrates the legacies of local collectors Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis.

The donation includes 16 paintings, one drawing and two sculptures from 1945 to 1976 that were part of Lang’s private collection. Many of the works are by members of the New York Circle of Abstract Expressionists and show artists such as Francis Bacon, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell.

The Friday Foundation also donated $ 10.5 million to the museum to support care and conservation efforts for the collection.

“This gift to SAM, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest reflects Richard and Jane’s lifelong passion and support for the arts,” said Amada Cruz, CEO of the Seattle Art Museum, in a press release. “We are honored to be the stewards of this extraordinary collection and to share these works of art with the community.”

According to the museum, highlights of the collection include:

  • The first paintings by Francis Bacon (Portrait of the Man with Glasses I, 1963 and Study for a Portrait, 1967); Adolph Gottlieb (Crimson Spinning # 2 1959); Lee Krasner (Night Watch, 1960); Clyfford Still (PH-338 (1949 No. 2), 1949); and Ad Reinhardt (painting, 1950)
  • The first work of art by Alberto Giacometti, the highly significant sculpture Femme de Venise II (1956)
  • The first large painting by Joan Mitchell (The Sink, 1956)
  • Robert Motherwell’s first iconic Elegy composition (Irish Elegy, 1965)
  • Cubi XXV (1965), by David Smith from the famous Cubi series
  • A landmark color field painting by Helen Frankenthaler (Dawn Shapes, 1967)
  • A rare, early painting by Mark Rothko (untitled, 1945) and a central, late composition (untitled, 1963)
  • The Painter (1976) by Philip Guston, an epic self-portrait from his late figurative work.

The Seattle Times reported that the collection received a third-party estimate of $ 400 million, with no piece worth less than $ 1 million.

The Friday Foundation also donated six works of art to the Yale University Art Gallery to expand its modern and contemporary collection.

“Taken together, these 19 works of art tell this story at the highest level, while each one is a definitive example of the work of any artist,” said Lyn Grinstein, president of the Friday Foundation and daughter of Jane Lang Davis.

All 19 works will be presented to the public from autumn 2021 and are entitled “Frisson: The Collection of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis”. The new exhibition also features portraits of collectors Jane Lang (1976) by Andy Warhol and Richard Lang (1978) by Alice Neel.

“Seeing these works at SAM, accessible, inspiring and educational for all, strengthens the cultural fabric of Seattle and is an enduring source of pride for our city and region,” said Mimi Gardner Gates, art historian and former director of SAM.

SAM will reopen to the public on March 5th with timed ticket slots released weekly.