LACMA's 50th anniversary party starts early with major donations

LACMA announces first wave of major gifts of art timed to museum's 50th anniversary in April

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced major gifts of art from two of its trustees — the first wave of donations timed to the museum's 50th anniversary in April.

A gift from Jane and Marc Nathanson consists of eight works of modern and contemporary art created over four decades, including pieces by Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Julian Schnabel, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol worth an estimated $50 million total.

The gift from Lynda and Stewart Resnick consists of four works spanning 400 years: a Renaissance painting by Hans Memling, a bronze sculpture by Mannerist artist Giambologna, as well as paintings by François Boucher and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres from the 18th and 19th centuries.

"The lifeblood of any museum is its collection," museum director Michael Govan said. "LACMA has one of the best holdings of art in the world, and I'm delighted it is being made stronger through these gifts."

The announcement kicks off a campaign, led by trustees Jane Nathanson and Lynda Resnick, to encourage fellow patrons to donate works to the museum for its golden anniversary. The full slate of gifts to LACMA's collection will be announced at an April 18 anniversary gala co-chaired by Nathanson, Resnick and trustee Ann Colgin. About 50 of those works will remain on view in an exhibition at LACMA's Resnick Pavilion from April 26 to Sept. 7.

"Art — especially European art and contemporary works — is more and more expensive with each passing year. It is all but impossible for museums to afford the very best, and it also means private collectors have greater temptation to sell rather than donate to public institutions," Govan said. "Jane and Lynda are leading the way by making such historic and beautiful works of art a part of our public collection."

The Nathansons' anniversary gift includes Warhol's "Two Marilyns" silkscreen (1962), which will join two other Warhol works from that period in LACMA's collection: "Campbell's Soup Can" (1964) and "Black and White Disaster" (1962). The rest of the donation consists of James Rosenquist's oil painting "Portrait of the Scull Family" (1962); the George Segal sculpture "Laundromat" (1966-67); Gilbert and George's "Falling" (1972), 10 gelatin silver prints; Stella's wall relief and cast aluminum "La Columba Ladra" (1984); Schnabel's oil, gesso and marker on velvet titled "Fox Farm Painting X" (1989); Lichtenstein's "Interior With Three Hanging Lamps" (1991), graphite, printed paper collage and acrylic on paper mounted on board; and the Hirst canvas "And Death Will Have His Day" (2006).

"Fifty-million dollars of art for 50 years," Jane Nathanson said. "My husband and I believe that when you're lucky enough to own such iconic works from important artists, they're on loan to you. Eventually, all artworks should end up in a museum where the most people can enjoy them and benefit from them."

These eight works, Nathanson added, help to fill gaps in American Pop art at the museum.

"They'll make the contemporary art section of LACMA stronger, and eventually we intend to donate more," she said.

Memling's "Christ Blessing" (1480-85), gifted to the museum by the Resnicks, is the first work by the artist to enter LACMA's collection. Giambologna's "Flying Mercury," from about 1580, will be LACMA's first Renaissance bronze. The Resnicks, who declined to estimate the total value of their donation, also gave Boucher's "Leda and the Swan" (1742), which will join six other works by the artist in LACMA's collection; and Ingres' "The Virgin With the Host" (1860).

The exhibition of the anniversary donations also will include selections from the recently announced bequest by former Univision chairman and billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio — an estimated 47 works from the 19th and 20th centuries, valued at about $500 million, including paintings by Cézanne, Degas, Manet and Monet. The gift is contingent upon the museum completing its new building, a $600-million project by architect Peter Zumthor scheduled to open in 2023.

Since its inception in 1965, LACMA has acquired more than 120,000 works that span from ancient times to the present. About 19,000 of the objects have been acquired since 2007.

Proceeds from the anniversary gala — tables will start at $50,000 — will go toward the museum's programming.

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