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

Friday, November 4, 2011–Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956). Convergence, 1952. Oil on canvas, 93 1/2 x 155 inches (237.5 x 393.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1956. © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

On View in the 1905 Albright Building

Featuring eighty stellar paintings and sculptures by more than seventy artists from the late nineteenth century to the present, The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery will kick off a year-long celebration of the institution’s 150th anniversary. The first major exhibition of artwork from the museum’s Collection organized to tour nationally, The Long Curve highlights the history of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s extraordinary Collection by focusing on the pioneering benefactors and museum professionals who made it possible. 

Founded in 1862 as The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is among the oldest art museums in America and is celebrated for its longstanding commitment to collecting and exhibiting experimental art. From its inception, the Albright-Knox has been steadfast in its commitment to acquiring the art of its time and, as a result, is one of the first museums in the country to have collected and exhibited American and European modernism in the early years of the twentieth century. At that time, and largely due to the foresight of Gallery benefactor A. Conger Goodyear—who donated more than two hundred and fifty works over the course of nearly four decades and who, in 1929, went on to become the first board president of The Museum of Modern Art in New York—the institution began to acquire significant works by innovative artists. Many were prescient acquisitions of paintings and sculptures by Salvador Dalí, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and others. 

Henri Rousseau (French, 1844–1910). Flowers in a Vase, 1909. Oil on canvas, 17 7/8 x 12 7/8 inches (45.4 x 32.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1939.

In 1939, through the generosity of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., and his family, along with other kindred-minded community members, the Room of Contemporary Art Fund was established. This groundbreaking program was dedicated to the purchase of contemporary art and, over the next fifteen years, enabled the Gallery to continue acquiring innovative artworks. Between 1955 and 1973, the synergistic partnership between Seymour H. Knox, Jr., and Gallery Director Gordon M. Smith propelled the acquisition of celebrated works of Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Pop art, and Minimalism, for which the Albright-Knox is best known.

Legendary New York art dealer and Buffalo native Martha Jackson also shaped the Gallery’s distinguished collection of mid-twentieth-century painting and sculpture through the establishment of The Martha Jackson Collection in 1974. Jackson had an unwavering commitment to the artists she represented. The Martha Jackson Gallery was dedicated to contemporary artists and “the development of international modern art in America.” Jackson actively sought a more global repertoire of artists and was one of the first commercial gallerists to represent women. In addition, she worked closely with the Albright-Knox and Seymour H. Knox, Jr., to bring the work of certain artists, including Sam Francis, Adolph Gottlieb, Grace Hartigan, Louise Nevelson, and Antoni Tàpies, into the Gallery’s Collection. 

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. Gift of Natalie and Irving Forman, 2003. © 1995 Joseph Marioni.

The exhibition moves into the present with a selection of works that highlight two recent gifts of modern and contemporary art. In 2003, Santa Fe–based collectors Natalie and Irving Forman donated more than three hundred paintings, sculptures, and works on paper to the Gallery. Their collection, largely comprising monochromatic works by artists such as Joseph Marioni, David Simpson, and Florence Pierce, augments the Gallery’s already significant holdings of abstract art by fleshing out key areas. Most recently, in 2008, the Gallery acquired seventy-one works of art by fifteen artists from the renowned collection of Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, through the generosity of the Panza Family and existing Gallery funds. This diverse ensemble spans a forty-year period from the mid-1960s to the present and includes important works by Joseph Kosuth, Robert Therrien, and Anne Truitt. Selected from the recent exhibition The Panza Collection: An Experience of Color and Light, the Panza Collection at the Albright-Knox speaks to the Gallery’s history, its preeminent collection of postwar American art, and Dr. Panza’s artist-centric vision and philanthropic largesse.

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, with essays by Albright-Knox Chief Curator Douglas Dreishpoon and Head of Research Resources Susana Tejada, texts on each of the works by Curator of Education Mariann W. Smith, and a timeline of the Gallery’s 150-year history by Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes.

This exhibition is organized by Chief Curator Douglas Dreishpoon.

This exhibition is presented by First Niagara.

Additional support has been provided by Agnes Gund.

Gallery admission is required to view this special exhibition on M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY. 

Related Resources

The Long Curve Search
This web component of The Long Curve contains many details about the donors’ gifts in their entirety. Search for specific works or browse works by collector. 

The Room of Contemporary Art on Flickr
Visit the Albright-Knox’s Flickr page to view a set of artworks and, in the spirit of the Room of Contemporary Art, vote for your favorites and share your opinions.

Related Publications

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

Related Exhibitions

Living Art: A. Conger Goodyear and Sculpture
November 4, 2011–March 4, 2012

The Impermanent Collection: The Room of Contemporary Art, 1939–1971
November 4, 2011–March 4, 2012

Related Events

The 150th Anniversary Gala
Saturday, November 5, 2011, 6:30 pm

Art'scool Educators' Preview
Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 3–6 pm 

Members' Reception
Thursday, November 17, 2011, 5–7 pm

Tour of The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Friday, March 2, 2012, 7 pm

Related News

Celebrating Knox legacy on golden anniversary for art (The Buffalo News)

150 years later, Albright-Knox is still hungry for the new (The Buffalo News)

The Learning Curve (Artvoice)

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