San Jose Museum of Art Receives Major Gift of 44 Modern and Contemporary Artworks

  • SAN JOSE, California
  • /
  • April 30, 2015

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Jay DeFeo, Detail, Snake River Canyon, 1974. Acrylic on ragboard, 10 × 15 inches
San Jose Museum of Art

The San Jose Museum of Art has received a major gift of 44 works of art from the collection of Barbara and Dixon Farley. Among the highlights are works by Jay DeFeo, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Philip Guston, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Gay Outlaw, Richard Serra, James Siena, David Simpson, Richard Shaw, and Peter Wegner. This latest group of works joins the Farley’s earlier gift of 29 works given to the Museum following Mr. Farley’s death in 2012. SJMA will showcase the Farley’s gift in a fall 2015 exhibition. 

Richard Serra, Bessie Smith, 1999. Etching. 44 × 36 inches, Edition 8 of 35
San Jose Museum of Art

“The Farleys built their collection with deep passion, independence, and a keen eye for abstraction. Their art filled their home and their life—as did their commitment to supporting the work of living artists,” said Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA.  “This generous gift brings works by nationally recognized artists who were previously unrepresented in the collection to the San Jose Museum of Art: it also strengthens its holdings of works by notable California artists.”

The Farley’s gift includes two works by Jay DeFeo. The painting Detail, Snake River Canyon (1974), is a textured rendering of the prominent form also seen in DeFeo’s seminal work, The Rose. The large drawing, Untitled, is part of the series “Shoe Tree” (1977) and relates to abstracted depictions of objects such as camera tripods, shoetrees, and swim goggles. The San Jose Museum of Art now has four works by DeFeo in its collection, three of which are gifts from the Farleys.

SJMA also received two works by Willem de Kooning, the first works by this artist to enter the collection. Woman II, 1967, epitomizes de Kooning’s painting from the 1960s, with his powerful combination of figurative distortion and gestural abstraction. The second work by de Kooning is a lithograph, Minnie Mouse, 1971.

Three works by Philip Guston are equally important additions to the Museum’s collection: the abstract expressionist drawing Untitled, 1950; the gestural painting Composer’s Landscape, 1960; and a later lithograph Pile Up, 1981, which features Guston’s iconic cartoonish motifs such as nails and shoe soles. 

The Farley gift also included the museum’s first work by Richard Serra, Bessie Smith, 1999, a large etching titled for the great American blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. To create the textured surface, Serra used deeply etched plates capable of carrying up to a pound or more of ink, which gives the print an imposing physical presence.

The gift of Cake with Origami Ship, 2003, by Richard Shaw and two works by David Gilhooly brings further depth to SJMA’s already strong representation of the California clay movement and Shaw and Gilhooly in particular. 

SJMA plans to exhibit highlights from the Farleys’ gifts in a special exhibition to open in October 2015 (dates to be announced). 

Complete list of acquired works

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