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The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

Starting in 2003, Natalie and Irving Forman gifted 96 paintings, sculpture, and works on paper from their stellar collection of monochrome works of art. The gift resulted from conversations with former Director Louis Grachos, and is particularly noteworthy for its relevance and significance to the museum’s collection of abstract art. The museum later received an additional 109 works from the couple’s daughters and artists in the Formans' honor.

Joseph Marioni's Red Painting, 1995

Joseph Marioni (American, born 1943). Red Painting, 1995. Acrylic on linen, 79 x 76 inches (200.7 x 193 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Natalie and Irving Forman, 2003 (2003:23.9). © 1995 Joseph Marioni.

Installation view of The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

Installation view of The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection (May 6–July 3, 2005). Photograph by Tom Loonan.

The Formans began collecting art in the 1950s and continued to collect for nearly 50 years. Before moving to Santa Fe in 1985, they lived in their native Chicago for 35 years and acquired contemporary art during their frequent visits to New York. One of the first works that the Formans purchased on such a trip was a small sculpture by Pablo Picasso. However, they soon became interested in non-objective art, and around 1960 were among the first collectors to purchase works by Robert Ryman, the famous Minimalist and Conceptual painter.

In addition to their purchases, the Formans received many works as birthday and thank-you gifts from artists with whom they had cultivated deeply personal relationships. Throughout their lifetime together, the couple amassed one of the most important collections of monochromatic art—richly nuanced paintings and works on paper that are primarily one color—in the world, including works by Josef Albers, John Beech, Burgoyne Diller, Marcia Hafif, James Howell, Joseph Marioni, John Meyer, Phil Sims, and Peter Tollens.

Natalie and Irving Forman also donated their personal archive, which includes letters of correspondence between the Formans and the artists in their collection, to the museum’s special collections in the G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library. The Natalie and Irving Forman Papers reveal the couple’s acute sense for acquiring the art of their time, as well as the close relationships they built and maintained with many of the artists whose works they collected.

Highlights from the Natalie and Irving Forman Collection All Works in the Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

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    The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

    May 6–July 3, 2005

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    Works on Paper: The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

    August 15–November 30, 2008

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  • From the Archives

    Natalie and Irving Forman Papers

    The Formans’ personal archive, housed at the Albright-Knox, includes their correspondence with artists in their collection.

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    The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

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    The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection: Works on Paper

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    The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

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  • Cover of The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection
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    The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

    Exhibition Catalogue

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  • Cover of The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection: Works on Paper
    Shop AK

    The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection: Works on Paper

    Exhibition Catalogue

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  • Cover of The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
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    The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

    Featuring works from the Natalie and Irving Forman Collection

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