The National Gallery Turns Gifts Into a Striking Exhibit

JUST when the National Gallery of Art thought it had blown out the last candle on its 50th anniversary cake, even more gifts began to funnel in.

By Dec. 3l, l991 in addition to that year's gifts to the permanent collection of the gallery, more "stuff has poured in ... 2,444 works of art," says National Gallery director J. Carter Brown.

"That includes gifts of not only works of art-in-kind, but also works that we have purchased. Those are gifts too because nothing in this institution by way of art has come with any federal, public, appropriated funds; everything is a gift from the American people, whether contributed as an object or acquired with funds given for the purpose."

So the birthday party goes on with the exhibit, "Durer to

Diebenkorn: Recent Acquisitions of Art on Paper," which shows graphic arts ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century, culled from the wealth of contributions over the last year. Andrew Robison, the senior curator of this show, says that "1991 was for us like a decade at another major museum."

The show includes works from such world-famous collections as the Woodner Family Collection of Old Master drawings, the Milton Avery family collection, Crown Point Press, the Marcy family collection of Lovis Corinth, and the Vogel collection of Minimalist art. There is such a rich mingling of art on paper from so many periods that viewers can browse through a treasure house of gems.

Durer's enormous, breathtaking "Triumphal Arch of Maximilian" looms like a landmark, an 11 by 9 1/2-foot woodcut. Also included in the Renaissance and Baroque sections is the Gilbert Butler gift of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione's oil drawing, the charming "Noah Leading the Animals Into the Ark."

In the Rococo and Neoclassism section is the Gallery's first drawing by Goya, the curious "Mascaras crueles" (Cruel Masks) given by the Woodner Collection, with its foil, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's "Three Cherubs and a Beribboned Staff," from the Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund.

In the Romanticism to Impressionism category, Caspar David Friedrich's "Moonrise on an Empty Shore" is a glowing, major acquisition in the German Romantic field. And Elihu Veder's mysterious "Dawn," winged and circled in light, is delightful.

The Early Twentieth Century section includes Paul Klee's "Old Man Reckoning," given by Frank R. and Jeannette H. Eyerly, Matisse's drawing "Reclining Nude" given by Henry and Mabel Brandon, and the Milton Avery archive, a gift from the Avery family. It includes the liquid three impressions of the woodcut "Birds and Sea."

In the final category, Contemporary Era, more than 700 contemporary drawings and prints, illustrated books and portfolios have been donated since March l991 according to Ruth Fine, gallery curator of modern prints and drawings. The most extensive group, she says, came from the famous Dorothy and Herbert Vogel collection which consists of more than 2,000 drawings, paintings and sculptures by approximately 200 artists.

Among the gallery's archive collections is the Gemini G.E.L. Archive, and a major print workshop, Crown Point Press in San Francisco, which has done a variety of working proofs by Richard Diebenkorn. Four working proofs of his arresting "Combination" are included, as well as a color-shot work by Sam Francis, "Untitled," and a gleam of yellow by June Wayne, "Solar Wave." The show continues through Sept. 7.

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