Begun as a WPA Art Center, Oklahoma City Museum of Art Marks 75 Years With Nearly 300 New Acquisitions and 3 Exhibitions

  • August 19, 2020 10:51

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Hans Hofmann (American, born Germany, 1880–1966). Provincetown Number One, 1937. Oil on board. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Museum purchase from the Beaux Arts Society Fund for Acquisitions, 1976.005, © 2015 Estate of Hans Hofmann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) celebrates its 75th anniversary year with an exciting slate of exhibitions including “Shared Lives, Distant Places: Recent Acquisitions in Photography,” “Beaux Arts at 75” and “Moving Vision: Op and Kinetic Art from the Sixties and Seventies.” In honor of the museum’s 75th anniversary this May, the museum has already received 289 gifts or promised gifts of artworks from donors across the nation. Many of these gifts will be on display at the museum throughout the year, including a planned outdoor installation of “Folded Circle Split” by Fletcher Benton.  

“The museum has enriched many lives over the last 75 years, and we are proud to build on that legacy,” said Dr. Michael J. Anderson, OKCMOA president and CEO. “The gifts we have received so far ensure that we are able to continue to develop our collection and to provide a world-class art museum experience here in OKC. I am particularly excited about the plans we have for ‘Folded Circle Split’ and how this work will complement the museum’s extraordinary postwar art collection and the excellent Op and Kinetic show we have planned for the spring.”  

“In addition to highlighting important museum collections, this year’s exhibitions also honor longtime supporters of the museum. The Beaux Arts Society ball began in 1945 as a fundraiser for the museum. We are thankful to the many families that have supported our collection through that gala. 'Beaux Arts at 75' showcases many visitor favorites and highlights this collection during the 75th anniversary year for both organizations.”  

Peter Turnley (American, b. 1955) Near Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1994, Archival pigment print, 20 x 24 in. (sheet). Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Gift of Ryon and Lauren Beyer in honor of the Museum’s 75th anniversary, 2019.189 © Peter Turnley

OKCMOA began as a Works Projects Administration (WPA) art center in 1936 and with the end of federal funding in 1942, eventually incorporated as the Oklahoma Art Center on May 18, 1945. To recognize this important milestone, museum staff began soliciting gifts of art that would both complement and strengthen the museum’s permanent collection last fall. Thus far, the 75th anniversary gifts consist of a variety of mediums and subjects and add to the museum’s excellent Op and Kinetic art and photography collections. Museum staff are continuing to pursue gifts for this important anniversary. 

Tadasky (Tadasuke Kuwayama) (American, born Japan 1935). C-182, 1965. Acrylic on canvas. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Museum purchase with funds from the Beaux Arts Society Fund for Acquisitions and the Pauline Morrison Ledbetter Collections Endowment, 2016.064, © Tadasuke Kuwayama

Exhibition Schedule: 

Shared Lives, Distant Places: Recent Acquisitions in Photography 

Oct. 17, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021 

Featuring photographs given in honor of the Museum’s 75th anniversary, “Shared Lives, Distant Places” highlights contemporary photographers who employ different photographic styles—documentary, photojournalism and street photography—to capture the global human experience, offering alternative ways of seeing and understanding the people, places and events that shape our world. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of people, conflicts and historical events around the world at various moments in time and explores the working processes of six contemporary photographers. The exhibition will feature works by renowned photographers Donna Ferrato, Peter Turnley, Kristin Capp, Alen MacWeeney, Gary Mark Smith and Robert von Sternberg. This exhibition will include almost 100 75th anniversary acquisitions. 

Beaux Arts at 75 

Nov. 7, 2020 – April 25, 2021 

The Beaux Arts collection is an especially playful and eclectic body of work that includes everything from an idyllic summer landscape by a master Abstract Expressionist to a kitschy 1980s "altarpiece" featuring a pair of photorealistic Dalmatians. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Museum’s original fundraiser, the Beaux Arts Ball, OKCMOA will present the entirety of its Beaux Arts collection in a series of exhibitions and permanent collection installations highlighted by “Beaux Arts at 75.” In this original exhibition, the Museum will present long-standing favorites next to rarely seen gems, introducing an always surprising collection that includes outstanding examples by America’s famed Ashcan School artists, such as Robert Henri and John Sloan; works by American Impressionists including Childe Hassam; those of key later-generation Surrealists and Magical Realists; Postmodernists including Annette Lemieux and Fritz Scholder; and even leading figures of Pop Art and American abstraction such as James Rosenquist and Oklahoma City’s own Joe Goode. “Beaux Arts at 75” celebrates the adventurous spirit that helped build this one-of-a-kind collection. 

Charles Hinman (American, b. 1932). Happy Landing , 1974. Acrylic on shaped canvas. © Charles Hinman, courtesy of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, photo by Greg Staley

Moving Vision: Op and Kinetic Art from the Sixties and Seventies 

Feb. 20, 2021 – May 16, 2021 

“Moving Vision: Op and Kinetic Art from the Sixties and Seventies” highlights one of the great strengths of the Museum’s permanent collection–Op (optical) and Kinetic (movement) art. This new groundbreaking exhibition, which also includes historically significant loans from private collections, features movement – both real and perceived. 

Beginning around the middle of the 20th century, two separate yet complementary art movements brought something new to plastic, two and three-dimensional forms. In the case of Op art, artists created the perception of movement on a two-dimensional surface. With Kinetic art, artists experimented with moving three-dimensional forms. This exhibition brings together these two movements to tell the story of artists’ explorations of motion in the 1960s and ‘70s. 

“Moving Vision” will bring together approximately 40 works centered around the Museum’s own masterpieces of Op and Kinetic art, alongside a series of loans from major private collections. The exhibition will feature all the great names in Op and Kinetic art, from Alexander Calder and Victor Vasarely to Richard Anuszkiewicz and Fletcher Benton, along with a host of lesser-known figures who deserve to be household names. 


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