Sachs Collection Endows Philly Museum

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Philadelphia Museum of Art is opening a major exhibition entitled Embracing the Contemporary: The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Collection.

The exhibition presents one of this country’s finest collections of contemporary art, which includes outstanding works by some of the most influential European and American artists since the mid-twentieth century, including Jasper Johns, Howard Hodgkin, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, Gabriel Orozco, Charles Ray, and Cy Twombly.

Many of these works have either been donated to the Museum or pledged as promised gifts.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “We are delighted to present the collection assembled with a spirit of adventure and intelligence by Keith and Kathy Sachs over the course of more than four decades. They are not only thoughtful collectors, but also great Philadelphians who love this city and its cultural and educational institutions. To have such a fine collection come to the Museum as a gift is a rare and wonderful thing. It is also transformative, much like the important collections of modern art that came to us in the early 1950s from Albert E. Gallatin and Louise and Walter Arensberg. Keith and Kathy’s promised gift to the Museum of more than 90 works, which we announced to the public in 2014, has immensely strengthened our holdings of contemporary art.”

Embracing the Contemporary presents a selection of about one hundred works from the Sachs Collection, reflecting Keith and Kathy’s engagement with individual artists and the development of their collecting over time.

A number of artists with whom the couple developed meaningful ties over the years are presented in depth, including Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Brice Marden. Among the works by Johns are a recent suite of paintings entitled Five Postcards (2011), and Nines (2006), an assemblage featuring the late 1960’s flagstone motif painted in red, yellow and blue, as well as Voice II (1982), a three-part, ink-on-plastic drawing.

Other works in the collection complement the Museum’s holdings of works by leading German artists such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, and Gerhard Richter, as pictured above.

The exhibition reflects the variety and range of interests that distinguish the Sachs collection. It includes, for example, a work on paper by the Pennsylvania-born Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline, Untitled (c. 1956), which was among the couple’s first purchases after they married in 1969.

Also on view is the earliest work to enter their collection, Portrait of Jean-Louis (1947-49) by Louise Bourgeois, and one of the most recent, Untitled (2000-2013) by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, as well as major works by Robert Gober, Richard Hamilton, Robert Ryman, and Terry Winters.

At the heart of the exhibition is Boy with Frog (2008) by Charles Ray. The oversized nude figure extends his arm and holds aloft a captured amphibian, regarding it with a mixture of fascination and bewilderment that can be considered a metaphor for discovery.

Among the large-scale photographs in the Sachs Collection are exceptional works by Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Clifford Ross, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, and Jeff Wall. Important examples of video and film work by such celebrated figures as Francis Alÿs, Pierre Huyghe, and Steve McQueen will be presented. Also included are artist’s portfolios, personal mementos, letters, photographs, and other items that document the history of the Sachs Collection.

The exhibition continues in the contemporary galleries of the Modern and Contemporary wing, recently named for Keith and Katherine Sachs. In this section of the exhibition, works from the collection are interspersed with holdings of the Museum, highlighting the ways in which the gifts and promised gifts both complement and strengthen the Museum’s collection of contemporary art.

Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, said: “The Sachs Collection contains works that reflect some of the most daring developments in contemporary art over the past few decades, and a vision that is deeply personal and grounded in Keith and Kathy’s admiration for the artists whose work they collect. Their commitment to the work of living artists is what makes this collection so remarkable.”

Photo above: Schwan (2), 1989, Gerhard Richter, German, born 1932, Oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary, Acquisition, Gift of Keith L. and Katherine Sachs, 2000, © Gerhard Richter, Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery Philadelphia Museum of Art.