NEW YORK.-One of the preeminent collections of Abstract Expressionism, The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection was given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006, contributing significantly to the Museums holdings in modern art. To celebrate the gift, Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art on view from September 18, 2007, to February 3, 2008 will present 63 works assembled by one of the most prescient and astute collectors of the mid-20th century.
Included in the roster of important paintings in the exhibition are: Jackson Pollocks Number 28, 1950, a supreme example of the artist at the height of his career; Attic (1949), a key work by Willem de Kooning from the 1940s; Franz Klines Nijinsky (1950), the artists first painting in his mature style; an early signature work by Clyfford Still; and Mark Rothkos glowing No. 3 (1953). Also featured are major works by slightly younger American artists working in the early 1960s, such as Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Claes Oldenburg. In addition, the Newman gift includes fine works by European modernists, such as Max Ernsts 1924 portrait of Gala Eluard; a 1927 Joan Miró from the Circus Horse series; a 1930 relief by Jean Arp; and Alberto Giacomettis bronze sculpture The Forest (1950).
The Newman Collection constitutes a magnificent contribution to the Metropolitan Museum, stated Director Philippe de Montebello. This generous gift represents a New York homecoming for remarkable works by a number of the most important New York artists of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.
Mrs. Newman has said of her gift, This was a collection of New York art, and I had always felt it belonged in New York.
Comprised of 63 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by 50 artists, The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection is the only extant collection of Abstract Expressionist works gathered at the time of their creation. Mrs. Newmans collection the best of the newest, as Chicago curator Katharine Kuh once described it is also notable for its depth. In addition to the pivotal paintings and sculptures mentioned above, it includes wonderful works by Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Arthur Dove, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Fernand Léger, Jacques Lipchitz, John Marin, Matta, Larry Rivers, Anne Ryan, Kurt Schwitters, David Smith, and Wols, among others.
Muriel Newman is one of the rare collectors who grasped the importance of a radical new development in the visual arts and acted on that understanding immediately, with almost pitch-perfect accuracy, said Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge of the Metropolitan Museums Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.
Known for her intelligence and enthusiasm, Muriel Newman combined her background as a painter, her love of New York, and her incredible eye for modern art to become one of the most prominent collectors of Abstract Expressionism. She was born in Chicago in 1914 and attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Institute of Design, and the University of Chicago, then became an accomplished portrait painter. In 1938, she married Jay Z. Steinberg. Although a lifelong Chicagoan, Muriel Kallis Steinberg always loved New York, and the Steinbergs traveled there six to eight times a year. On a visit to New York in 1949, one of her art professors from Chicago introduced her to The Club, the hangout of a new generation of American artists. Known there as a fellow artist, she met the Abstract Expressionist painters who were just about to achieve recognition.
Although the Steinbergs had begun to buy works by better-known European modernists, such as Miró, Léger, Arp, Schwitters, and Giacometti, by 1953 she decided to focus on the exciting new development in American art. Venturing into territory where there were few collectors, she acted quickly and with great discernment, choosing artists whom history would later validate. Without relying on advisors, by 1954 she had purchased superb paintings by Pollock, de Kooning, Kline, and Rothko.
In 1954, after the death of Jay Steinberg, she stopped collecting for several years. She took it up again in the late 1950s, after her marriage to Albert Hardy Newman, during which period she added significant works by Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann, and Clyfford Still to her collection. The Newmans shared a passion for travel, and she acquired objects and textiles on trips to Egypt, Kathmandu, and other far-flung destinations; at the same time, she continued to be involved in promoting the cause of modern American art. In the early 1960s, Mrs. Newman visited New York in order to select works that could be purchased by supporters of the Art Institute of Chicago. Most of her choices including paintings by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Jules Olitski remained unsold; as a result, she bought them herself.
The Newmans began to look for a permanent home for the collection in the 1970s. In 1980, Mrs. Newman made a promised gift of the collection to the Met, and a major exhibition of the collection was organized at the Met in 1981. In 2006 she decided to make the gift immediate.
Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works is organized by Gary Tinterow; Nan Rosenthal, Special Consultant; and Lisa M. Messinger, Associate Curator, all of the Mets Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, edited by Mr. Tinterow, Ms. Rosenthal, and Ms. Messinger. The publication will feature texts by leading scholars, including David Anfam, Pepe Karmel, Carolyn Lanchner, and Richard Shiff, as well as an introduction by Mr. Tinterow. It will be published by the Metropolitan Museum and distributed by Yale University Press and will be available for $50 (hardcover). The exhibition catalogue is made possible by the Blanche and A.L. Levine Fund and the Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh Publications Fund.
The Metropolitan Museum will offer a number of education programs in conjunction with the exhibition. A Sunday at the Met program on November 11 will feature lectures and film screenings. The Museum will also host an Evening for Educators on November 30. The exhibition will be featured on the Museums Web site at www.metmuseum.org.