The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns the only surviving images of the solar eclipse that occurred on May 26, 1854—the first total eclipse of the sun visible in North America since the invention of photography. The images are out of public view, but are shown above and available online.
Currently on view at Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida is Photography from the Bequest of Isadore and Kelly Friedman, August 8 through October 22, featuring iconic photographs by Eugène Atget, Bruno Braquehais, Margaret Bourke-White, Brassaï, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Marville, Edward Steichen, Josef Sudek, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn.
For more than three decades, South Florida residents Isadore and Kelly Friedman acquired artworks with an unfailing eye for quality. Within the Friedman collection, one can literally trace the development of modern art. Although he never studied art academically, Isadore Friedman developed an affinity for art – which became a sophisticated passion – in the 1960s, after visiting the Art Students League in New York City. As a businessman, Friedman traveled frequently, enabling him to visit galleries and expand his interests. Mr. Friedman said to a reporter about his wide-ranging collecting habits, “I’m all over the board. I have a pretty significant photography collection: I collect Boudin, Dubuffet, and Picasso. To collect all one form of art was not very exciting to me.” Mr. Friedman found the historical connections and life stories of the artist’s he collected fascinating. “It’s so important to look beyond the art to understand the artists. They become alive.”
The Isadore and Kelly Friedman Bequest, received by the Museum in 2006, is the largest gift of American and European art ever presented to the museum. It frames and defines the remarkable legacy of this long time Museum Trustee and collector, who played an influential role as President of the Museum’s Board from 2004 to 2006. His greatest desire was to share his enthusiasm for art with as many people as possible, and to ensure that his collection would remain a resource for the residents of Palm Beach County and visitors to Florida for generations to come.
One of the Friedman collection's greatest strengths is photography - by Eugène Atget, Bruno Braquehais, Margaret Bourke-White, Brassaï, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Marville, Edward Steichen, and Josef Sudek among others. These works are in addition to significant artists such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Helmut Newton, and Irving Penn.
Throughout the collection's growth, Mr. Friedman maintained a high level of independence in choosing works. He tended to focus on acquiring one piece at a time and knew the history of every work intimately. Over time, he became increasingly selective, refining his collection to include representative and important works by many of the 20th century’s most important photographers. Each of his acquisitions balanced his knowledge of art history with a readiness to embrace new works, trusting his eye and exuberant enthusiasm for visually provocative and beautiful work.
The photography collected by Mr. Friedman was most close to his heart. Photographs were hung in the halls of the apartment ceiling to floor. The images, primarily of Paris at the turn of the century – Atget, Brassai, Doisneau – put him in touch with a world he loved. And the 20th century American photography which he collected transported him to a time and place he was familiar with, while growing up in New York.
Photography is one of the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s greatest collection strengths; forty percent of its holdings are photographic.