New Acquisitions that Expand Story of American Creativity at The Carter
By Tori Couch
Photo Courtesy of The Amon Carter Museum of American Art
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art acquired several works from an intergenerational and interdisciplinary group of artists, which will help the museum continue to tell the story of American art’s past, present and future, it said.
“Our goal is for the Carter’s collections to reflect the complexity of the American experience — with all of its nuance, dimensionality, and diversity of voices,” Andrew J. Walker, the Carter’s executive director, said in a release. “The works we’ve acquired over the past year move us closer to that goal, bringing living artists into dialogue with our foundational collections to provide fuller context to the American experience and ensuring that visitors encounter and engage with the most comprehensive view of American art.”
The pieces span more than 250 years and include the earliest oil painting to enter the museum’s collection, a piece by Benjamin West that dates back to the eighteenth century. West’s painting provides guests with a richer picture of early American artistic practice. Another milestone piece is “Sodom and Gomorrah” (ca. 1920-24), an interpretation of Genesis 12:12-26, by Henry Ossawa Tanner. Tanner is the first Black artist from the U.S. to gain major international recognition.
A selection of contemporary acquisitions also introduces new artists in photography, sculpture and works on paper collections to the Carter’s museum collections.
Here are the highlights the of acquisitions as detailed by the Carter:
- “Pyrrhus when a child, brought to Glaucias, King of Illyria, for protection,” 1767, by Benjamin West. This work is the earliest oil painting to enter the Carter’s collection, expanding the Museum’s breadth of study to include works from the colonial era. The Museum also acquired a corresponding print based on West’s painting by Richard Earlom.
- “Sodom and Gomorrah,” 1920–24, by Henry Ossawa Tanner. This marks the Carter’s first work by the internationally acclaimed Black artist — a painting now on public view for the first time in ten years. The work also includes a secondary painting on its verso, or the back of the canvas — an unfinished painting of two women in a similar palette of blue and green.
- “Arabian Landscape,” 1901, by Thomas Moran. This work joins the Carter’s expansive collection of Moran’s romantic landscapes. Rather than depicting a specific location, this painting fits into a tradition that Moran had of creating fantasy landscapes, either from his imagination or based on literary sources.
- “Gold Face Type,” 1966, by Emma Amos. This self-portrait from Amos, a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and member of the Guerrilla Girls, plays with color and composition to, in the artist’s words, “dislodge, question, and tweak prejudices, rules, and notions relating to art.”
- “La Ofrenda,” 1988, and “La Virgen de Guadalupe Defendiendo Los Derechos de los Chicanos,” 2018, by Ester Hernandez. Often recognized as two of the most significant prints from Chicana artist Hernandez, these prints subvert traditional religious iconography to create an embodied queer, feminist space for viewers.
- “Queer Rage, P.S. Your Parents Are Nuts, p73 from Indigenous Woman,” 2018 and “Neo-Indeo, Cakchi Lana Caliente, p29 from Indigenous Woman,” 2018, by Martine Gutierrez. Excerpted from Indigenous Woman, Gutierrez’s 124-page high-fashion magazine, these two works reflect the Latinx and transgender artist’s exploration of pervasive dichotomies — male/female, sacred/profane, and Indigenous/colonizer — and are the first of her works to be acquired by the Carter.
- “In Between the News” from Un Pedazo de Mar, 2019, María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Another important Latinx voice, Afro-Cuban artist Campos-Pons uses the ocean in this series as a backdrop upon which to explore the sorrow felt by people of the Caribbean diaspora.
- “WE 107/2, 2020,” by David Alekhuogie. This work from the rising Nigerian American talent pairs traditional photography with African sculpture and textiles to explore cultural heritage, the hierarchy of art versus craft, and the idea of authorship, expanding the Carter’s collection to include non-traditional mediums and practices.
- “ Leave To Me Your Memories,” 2022, by Meryl McMaster (Canadian with nêhiyaw, British and Dutch ancestry). Inspired by the discovery of her great-grandmother’s diary, McMaster’s series Bloodline, which includes this work, presents surreal portraiture suggestive of a convergence point between past and present, exploring memory, migration, and identity. Following the Carter’s 2022 exhibition “Speaking with Light,” this acquisition reflects the Museum’s continued commitment to uplifting contemporary Indigenous photography.
- “FBI Drawings: Source Six” and “FBI Drawings: Instructions on Assembly,” 2022, by Sadie Barnette. These drawings are based on the extensive surveillance of Barnette’s father, a member of the Black Panther Party, by the FBI as documented in his official file. These two drawings were a selection from six works made for the Carter’s 2023 exhibition “Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation,” a group show marking the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and interrogating notions of freedom, agency, liberation, incarceration, and the legacy of the Civil War.