Press Release

NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale Announces New Acquisitions


(Fort Lauderdale, FL) – In celebration of its 60th anniversary, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale announces that artworks by Theaster Gates, Jenny Holzer, Glenn Ligon, Zanele Muholi and Serge Vandercam have been acquired for its permanent collection. These new additions expand upon the museum’s strengths in contemporary art and European art of the post-World War II period, and will go on view to the public during 2018 and 2019 as part of a series of 60th anniversary exhibitions showcasing highlights of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale’s 7,000-work collection.

The museum’s expansive early holdings in traditional African, Native and Oceanic art formed the core from which its collection developed. Today, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale holds the largest U.S. collection of the post-World War II experimental Cobra group, an extensive collection of Latin American art and Modern and contemporary art with a focus on women and multicultural artists. The museum also houses the largest collection of the early American modernist William Glackens, a member of the socially progressive Ashcan School, who was instrumental in fostering modern art in America.

“NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale’s comprehensive collection has unique interlocking cultural and artistic narratives that have developed since its start in 1959,” said Bonnie Clearwater, NSU Art Museum Director and Chief Curator. “These acquisitions will generate new dialogue between current works in our collection as well as with museum visitors.”

New Acquisitions
Theaster Gates’ Reflection Piece, 2016, (clay, 13 x 10 x 11 inches) is a ceramic sculpture that combines a mask-life visage with a hollow vessel to form a reliquary of the human spirit. It combines references to African mask traditions and the American potter and former slave David Drake (aka Dave the Potter, c.1801- c.1870s). Its creation was a ritualistic practice related to Gates’ ongoing Dorchester Projects in which he has rehabilitated and reactivated abandoned and neglected buildings on Chicago’s South Side into lively cultural environments. Gates has used leftover wood and materials from the Dorchester restorations to create new works, and in this ceramic piece, Dorchester Projects wood was used to fire his kiln. The work was acquired through museum purchase.

Jenny Holzer’s The Survival Series: Remember to react, 1984 (cast aluminum, ed. 8/10, 3 x 10 in.) consists of a simple plaque with text that is both a commentary on contemporary life and call to social action. Holzer belongs to the influential group of artists known as the Pictures Generation who were part of the first generation of American artists that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s and who grew up inundated by television images and advertisements promoting post-World War II consumer culture. Works by Pictures Generation artists are one of the focal points of the museum’s contemporary holdings. This work was acquired through museum purchase.

Glenn Lignon, Untitled (I live on my shadow), 2009, Neon, glass, paint, ed.3/5. 1AP, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; purchased with funds provided by Michael and Diane Bienes by exchange.

Glenn Ligon’s, Untitled (I live on my shadow), 2009, (neon, glass, paint, ed. 3/5, 1 AP,5 3/8
x 56 ¼ x 1 ¾ in.) references abolitionist Sojourner Truth’s Carte de Visite, 1864. A former slave, Truth would sell photographs of herself to finance her livelihood as a traveling preacher and activist stating, ”I sell the shadow to support the substance.” The words in Ligon’s neon piece are eclipsed by the application of black paint on the front of the tubes of light. The process reverses the relationship between light and shadow as the neon illuminates the wall where a shadow would have been cast. The work was acquired through museum purchase.

Zanele Muholi’s striking black-and-white photograph, Thuleleni, Bijlmer, Amsterdam, 2017 (gelatin silver print, 27 x 22 in., ed.ition 3/8) addresses several traditions and contemporary art practices. South African-born Muholi self-identifies as a visual activist and advocate of the LGBT and intersex community and her photographs are bold images of empowerment. In this photograph, she darkened her subject’s skin to increase the contrast of her dark skin and background with the white in her eyes and paper ruffle. Although the composition and tonal effects suggest 17th century Dutch portraiture, the contrast between the dark skin and eyes of her subject give the face the appearance of an African mask. The title and style reference Holland, thereby evoking The Netherlands’ complex colonial relationship with Africa. The work was acquired through museum purchase.

Serge Vandercam’s L’Echo, 1970 (gouache on paper, 43 ½ x 28 ½ in.) and Glancing Times (Les Temps des regards),1970, (oil on canvas, 51 x 38 1/4 in.) are the newest additions to NSU Art Museum’s renowned collection of Cobra art of the post-World War II period created by artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. During a visit to Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula in 1962, Copenhagen-born Vandercam learned about Tollund Man, a mummified body from the 4th century BC, that was discovered with facial features intact. Vandercam was fascinated by the preserved body that had seemingly risen from the dead and based much of his subsequent work on it. The ghost-like figure in these two paintings emerges from the dark to stare at the viewer, showing as the artist noted “the mask of man, and at the same time reveal in the image of what man is like without the mask.” The work is a gift of Stéphane Janssen.

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