LOUISVILLE, KY.- The Speed Art Museum unveiled a number of exceptional works new to the museums collection. Over the past year, through generous gifts and astute purchases, more than 150 works of art have come to the museum. On view through February 1, 2009, Collecting for Kentucky: A Year of New Art at the Speed features 52 highlights from the years acquisitions.
Throughout the year, a wide range of art spanning 600 years of human creativity has enriched the Speeds collection. Collecting for Kentucky allows visitors to experience the communitys newest treasures in one great exhibition. Director Charles L. Venable noted, The Speed is respected throughout the country for its collection of over 13,000 works and this exhibition will show our visitors how such a great collection is built. From our founding in 1927 until today, generous collectors, artists, and patrons have enhanced the Speeds collection with wonderful works of art, which you can see free of charge. That says a lot about people in this part of the country and we are presenting this exhibition to thank everyone for their support.
The oldest piece in the exhibition is a beautiful, medieval Book of Hours made in Northern France around 1425. This extraordinary volume illustrates key scenes from the Bible in gold and colorful pigments and is the gift of Betty and David Jones. The Speed has also acquired several significant Old Master paintings. Mr. and Mrs. Owsley Brown II generously donated three paintings and a drawing to the Speed among which is the Flemish artist Gaspar de Crayers exuberant depiction of The Conversion of Paul (c. 1640s). The Reverend and Mrs. Alfred R. Shands III donated a fine 17th -century work by the Dutch artist Melchior de Hondecoeter. Also featured is the Charter Collectors newest gift to the Speed, English artist George Morelands painting Children Bird Nesting, about 1789, which was the source of his famous engraving of the subject. The museum used funds bequeathed to the museum by Alice Speed Stoll to purchase a monumental masterwork by the 17th-century German painter Carl Borromaus Andreas Ruthart. Considered one of the finest animal painters, Rutharts painting of Adam Naming the Animals (1686) depicts 121 animals ranging from domestic pets to exotic creatures from around the world. Dr. Venable, stated enthusiastically that the animals are so beautifully painted that we may have to ask our visitors not to feed them!
Also featured in Collecting for Kentucky are important works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. On view will be a tall clock made around 1808 in Lexington, Kentucky, given by Robert and Norma Noe. This wonderful clock features a beautifully executed cherry case and also bears the signature of Asa Blanchard, Lexingtons premier early silversmith. This clock represents the first of many gifts from the Noes, who have promised their entire collection to the Speed, ensuring that the Speed has the finest collection of Kentucky art in the country. The show also contains works by modern and contemporary masters given by Frankfort collectors Mrs. and Mrs. Grover Craig Shropshire, as well as other works from David Edelson and family, Leonard and Adele Leight, and the Estate of Robert K. Smith. Among the gifts from these donors are works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Max Beckman, Emile Nolde, Charles Burchfield, Duncan Grant, Joán Miró, Louise Nevelson, Frank Stella, and Jim Dine.
Contemporary art is also well represented in the exhibition by gifts from the New Art Collectors and Paul W. Chellgren, including engaging graphics by Julian Opie and a sculpture by Werner Reiterer. The exhibition concludes with a moving video described as the sexiest work of art at the 2007 Venice Biennial. The Most Beautiful Woman in Gucha by Londonbased, Serbian-born artist Breda Beban was purchased by the museum with funds given in memory of Minx Auerbach.