The Huntington makes acquisitions in advance of gallery expansion

The Huntington makes acquisitions in advance of gallery expansion
George Bellows (1882-1925), "Summer Fantasy," 1924, oil on canvas, 36-by-48 inches. (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens announced Tuesday that its expanded Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art will open to the public July 19.

And, the Huntington added, the Scott Galleries showcasing American art from the colonial period to the mid-20th century will exhibit new acquisitions by Arthur Dove and George Bellows.

The five-room, 5,400-square foot addition, utilizing space previously used for storage, will feature nearly 100 more works of 20th-century art.

Dove's "Lattice and Awning," an oil on canvas from 1941, is an abstract depicting what looks like a tangle of leaves in green and yellow earth tones. The Huntington is L.A.'s first public collection to own a piece of the artist's work.

Bellows' "Summer Fantasy," an oil on canvas, is a jewel-toned landscape created in 1924, a year before the artist's death at age 42.

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"We're deeply committed to displaying and growing our collections of American art," said Kevin Salatino, the Huntington's director of Art Collections. "I'd like to think we are among the finest collections and most representative of American art on the West Coast. LACMA has a very good collection, but they're an encyclopedic museum; there aren't a lot of institutions that have a focus on it – our commitment is a very strong one."

Of the Dove and Bellows paintings, Salatino said "We've strengthened our collection dramatically with these acquisitions. We've been weak on early 20th century American modernism, and the Dove piece fills a big hole and acts as a sort of bridge to postwar abstraction. For me, Bellows is one of the great American artists of the 20th century. 'Summer Fantasy,' I call it the masterpiece of his last years. It fills a localized gap, the lack of a Bellows landscape, which is what he is most brilliant at painting."

The five new galleries will showcase works from the last century, representing Social Realism, modernism, the Ashcan school, the Depression era, geometric abstraction and pop art.