This exhibition examines the history of MoMA’s drawings collection through key gifts from donors whose connections with the Museum helped shape the institution from its earliest days. Lillie P. Bliss and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, founders of MoMA, gave numerous masterworks to the new museum, including some of its most prized drawings. In later decades bequests by influential collectors such as James Thrall Soby continued to augment the holdings of works by artists the Museum had already shown a commitment to, while other collections, like that of Joan and Lester Avnet, were formed with MoMA’s needs specifically in mind. More idiosyncratic collections, such as Ruth Vollmer’s bequest to the Museum, accepted in 1983, reflect the life and activities of individual art enthusiasts during key moments in art history. Gifted is a reevaluation of the drawings collection, reflecting not only the richness of MoMA’s holdings, but also the diverse forces that have shaped it and the corresponding history it represents.
February 4, 2012