In October, MGM Resorts sold 11 works by Pablo Picasso, some decades-long fixtures in the casino restaurant, for a total of $108 million. Sotheby's conducted the sale on-site at the MGM Bellagio in Las Vegas, and while several works by Picasso remain in the collection, the resort entity now aims to refocus its art holdings.
MGM Resorts revealed this week the new acquisitions for its public fine art collection as it reshapes and contemporizes its offerings with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Acquired works by Rashid Johnson, Sanford Biggers, Derrick Adams, Ghada Amer, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Tomás Esson and Svenja Deininger are among the new contemporary artists showcased alongside existing works by artists such as Sam Gilliam, Lorna Simpson, Nick Cave, Jenny Holzer and Nancy Rubins throughout MGM Resorts’ properties.
The company’s goal is to provide an extended platform for artists of color, women and the LGBTQIA+ community – and to amplify these voices through its portfolio, a MGM statement reads.
“We believe in the power of art to open minds, change perspectives and create transformation in society,” said Ari Kastrati, MGM Resorts’ Chief Hospitality Officer. “The addition of these talented artists to our portfolio reflects MGM’s commitment to championing inclusion and ensuring that the collection more closely mirrors our diverse communities. That commitment is central to our company’s core values and is imbued in all that we do.”
Tarissa Tiberti, Executive Director of MGM Resorts Art & Culture, said, “Acquiring works by Rashid Johnson, Sanford Biggers, Derrick Adams, Ghada Amer, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Tomás Esson and Svenja Deininger propels the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection significantly forward in our goal of giving voice to underrepresented artists. We look forward to sharing these important pieces with our guests from around the world and sparking conversation around all they represent.”
New acquisitions include:
- One of Rashid Johnson’s three-dimensional wall works from the Cosmic Slop series comprising black soap and microcrystalline wax, which are melted together and then hand-poured to create unique surfaces.
- A small-scale bronze sculpture of Oracle (2021) by Sanford Biggers, with a seated body reminiscent of the Temple of Zeus featuring a head inspired by masks and sculptures from African cultures.
- A new mixed-media painting from Derrick Adams’ Floater series, currently in production. Discussing his Floater pieces with Vogue, Adams said, “I wanted to occupy a different space from all the artists who were speaking on issues of race and trauma and oppression. People couldn’t exist if they lived in constant grief. My work is focused on the idea of how crucial it is for Black people to think of leisure as a radical act.”
- Two of Ghada Amer’s works featuring acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas from her series The Women I Know Part II, which includes embroidered and painted portraits of women Amer knows personally. For each portrait, the artist includes phrases and quotes regarding feminist and social issues, including lines such as “Do not fit into the glass slipper like Cinderella did – shatter the glass ceiling.” Of the series, Amer has said, “I now feel liberated from the canon of art history and from the father figures of painting. The only reference now in my work is the subject matter, that is painting itself.”
- Jonathan Lyndon Chase's The Cook Out (2019). The artist notes, “I try to paint very honestly with a delicacy to the body. I’m a big softie, and I’ve been described as being vulnerable and transparent. I like to feel a connectiveness to people. In my work I’m thinking about how queer bodies, Black bodies are very complex.”
- Oil-on-linen works Quimera (2021) and Anestesia (2018) by Cuban-born, U.S.-based artist Tomás Esson, known for his "gestural visual forms" and "dark subject matter."
- Svenja Deininger's Untitled from a new body of work reflecting the artist’s deliberate yet fluid explorations of the dialogues between shape, color, texture and surface that reside in her complex compositions.