New Acquisitions and Old Friends
The Allen’s contemporary art collection has grown substantially in recent years, sometimes through purchase but more often by gift. This exhibition brings together a large number of works new to the museum—many on view for the first time—alongside others that have been visitor favorites for decades. Ranging in date from 1948 to 2020, they represent a striking diversity of artistic backgrounds, techniques, and approaches. Abstraction, a hallmark of the museum’s modern and contemporary holdings since the mid-20th century, is explored in sculpture, monumental canvases, and small works on paper. Other works display trenchant realism or probing allegory, at times enlivened by a sense of whimsy or, as in a small section devoted to the 20th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, calling forth a sobering remembrance.
Several of the artists represented—including Johnny Coleman, Kathleen Gilje, Philip Koch, Michelangelo Lovelace, Mary Beth McKenzie, John Newman, Douglas Sanderson, Sue Jane Mitchell Smock, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown—have significant connections to Oberlin, Cleveland, or Ohio, a testament to the museum’s longstanding relationships with alumni artists and donors, and its commitment to highlighting the artistic talents in our region. Gifts in celebration of the museum's 2017 centennial from artists Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Martin Kline, and Frank Stella are also on view, as are recent acquisitions by Joseph Albers, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Agnes Martin, Tom Palmore, José Rodríguez, Betye Saar, Fanny Sanín, and Francisco Toledo, among many others.