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Nic Nicosia

SAMA Receives Several Gifts of Exceptional Works of Contemporary Art

January 31, 2019

A Major Work Series by Dallas-based Nic Nicosia Given by the Dallas Consortium, 5 Works by American Contemporary Artists Gifted by the Alex Katz Foundation, and A Large-Scale Sculpture by American Artist Catherine Lee from an Anonymous Donor

San Antonio, TX—January 31, 2019—The San Antonio Museum of Art announced today that it has received three separate gifts of contemporary art to support the continued growth and diversification of its collection. The Dallas Consortium has given Nic Nicosia’s major work Space Time Light (2008-2009), which comprises a series 10 large-scale archival inkjet images on canvases. It is the first work by the artist to enter the collection. At the same time, the Alex Katz Foundation, which has been focused on donating works of art by living American artists to American art museums, has donated one work each by artists Katherine Bernhardt, Richard Bosman, Juan Gomez, Lauren Nickou, and Virginia Overton. The third gift, from an anonymous donor, is a large-scale bronze sculpture by American artist Catherine Lee. Many of these gifts are now on view at the Museum, in its newly reinstalled galleries of contemporary art.

“These extraordinary gifts from the Dallas Consortium, the Alex Katz Foundation, and an anonymous donor are a fantastic ‘win-win’ situation,” says the Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Suzanne Weaver. “These generous donors are committed to supporting our Museum in its efforts to build a diverse permanent collection. On a personal level, it is very rewarding to develop relationships with collectors and patrons who share our deep commitment to artists and truly enjoy being able to facilitate their creativity, vision, and success.”   

The Dallas Consortium’s Gift
A decade ago, Dallas-based collector Dan Boeckman organized a group of like-minded collectors and patrons for the purpose of providing Nic Nicosia support to realize an ambitious project while he was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their intention was to purchase the resulting work and, ultimately, donate it to a museum. Most of the dozen members of the Consortium have a long history of collecting works by Nicosia and other artists living in Texas, as well as establishing transformative initiatives such as endowed acquisition funds, co-purchases, and promised gifts, that advance museums’ collections and support their continued growth. The Consortium have now decided to complete their mission by donating Nicosia’s series to the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Nic Nicosia was born in Dallas in 1951, and received his B.A. from the University of North Texas, Denton, in 1974. He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010. Known primarily as a photographer, Nicosia’s more recent work has expanded to include sculptural objects and installations. In this series of sublime, cinematic landscapes—titled Space Time Light—the artist explores paint and painting while continuing to deal with ideas of constructed space, film/movement, and architecture, concepts he addressed in his earlier photographic and film work. For each “painting,” the artist constructed a large-scale “model” using his own photographs of interiors and natural landscapes. He dripped painting or other materials from an opening at the top and then photographed the “model.” In the early 1980s, Nicosia, like artists of the Pictures Generation such as Cindy Sherman, Richard Longo, and Richard Prince, appropriated imagery from popular culture to challenge notions of photographic truth, perceived reality, and the fine line between fact and fiction. 

The Alex Katz Foundation’s Gift
The Alex Katz Foundation was founded in 2004 by painter Alex Katz and his wife Ada to collect and share works of contemporary art as well as focused grant-making. The Foundation has a long history with the Colby College Museum of Art, to which it donated more than 400 works by Katz in 1996. In addition to this gift to the San Antonio Museum of Art, it has also previously given works of art to institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago (Lois Dodd’s Statue of Liberty + Sunset, 1998) and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Donald Baechler’s Study for “Sins of Omission,” 1983). 

The gifts to the San Antonio Museum of Art are:
•    Katherine Bernhardt (American, born 1975), Untitled, 2017: Known for her large-scale pattern paintings that feature everyday objects and consumer items—from cigarettes to sharpie pens to tropical fruit—Bernhardt’s sculptural practice similarly represents quotidian subjects in vibrant colors with simplified forms. 
•    Richard Bosman (American, born India, 1944), Crazy Cats 9, 2017-18: This work is part of Bosman’s Crazy Cats series, for which he uses an image of a mother cat and daughter kitten as a readymade template to experiment with materials and tools. 
•    Juan Gomez (American, born Colombia, 1970), Flower 2, 2015: Gomez’s lyrical paintings oscillate between abstraction and figuration, and often feature a landscape or a subject from nature. 
•    Lauren Nickou (American, born 1986), Unicorn from Tapestry, 2017: Inspired by the Netherlandish Unicorn Tapestries dating to the Middle Ages (ca. 1495-1505), multi-disciplinary artist Nickou’s painting explores themes of desire and devotion. 
•    Virginia Overton (American, born 1971), Untitled (Quartered Pine), 2016: Using recycled objects and materials commonly associated with construction or farming, Overton’s sculptures interact with the exhibition space and its architecture.

The Anonymous Gift
Catherine Lee’s Steel Clad, 2008 is a hybrid of painting, sculpture, and installation. The forms and surfaces of this large-scale wall work recall a wide range of sources—from ancient stone steles (or monuments) to painterly abstraction and minimalist sculpture. The work is part of Catherine Lee’s Clad Warriors series, which includes large sculptures composed of metal (steel, copper, or bronze) or Raku (Japanese ceramic) tiles on a wooden armature, installed upright against the wall. Drawing inspiration from the landscape, Lee’s forms speak to how the sublime in nature can be sensed through abstract gesture and man-made materials. The gift, from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, is a reflection of Lee’s value as an American artist deserving of greater recognition in museum collections.

These works, and others, are on view as part of the Museum’s newly reinstalled contemporary art galleries, which brings together recent gifts and purchases with works from the collection that have not recently been on view. The approach mixes together self-taught and formally taught artists and demonstrates an on-going evaluation of the collection and commitment to diversity of the Museum’s collection in both modern and contemporary art, with works by women, African American, Latinx, and Indigenous/Aboriginal artists. Among the artists included are John Alexander, Eddie Arning, John Willard Banks, David Bates, Kevin Beasley, Charles Dellschau, Richard Diebenkorn, Ana Fernandez, Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Dorothy Hood, Terrell James, Paul Lee, Rodney McMillian, and Daniel Rios Rodriguez.

“These gifts to the Museum, combined with our recent and exciting reinstallation of the Museum’s modern and contemporary art galleries, reflect our commitment to bringing the very best contemporary art from around the world to San Antonio,” said Katherine Crawford Luber, the Kelso Director of the San Antonio Museum of Art. “We are grateful to these donors for their support, as well as to curator Suzanne Weaver, whose relationships with important collectors and foundations in the contemporary art community have been so crucial to the continued growth of our collections.”

Caption: Nic Nicosia (American, born 1951), Space Time Light series (detail), 2008-2009, Archival inkjet on canvas (ten works), Dimensions variable, 38 x 48-38 x 72 inches (96.5 x 121.9–96.5 x 182.9 cm)