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Getty acquires trove of work by 17 influential photographers

Getty acquires trove of work by 17 influential photographers
A detail of an untitled image by Ruth Bernhard from 1936 — part of a major donation of photographic works to the Getty Museum. (Ruth Bernhard / Getty Museum)

The J. Paul Getty Museum is expected to on Wednesday announce a major acquisition of 386 photographs by highly influential 20th century photographers including Ruth Bernhard, Eudora Welty and Dorothea Lange.

Notably, some of the 17 photographers whose work is in the acquisition, such as Bernhard and Welty, were not already represented in the Getty’s collection. The gift also includes 27 works by California-based photographer Imogen Cunningham to complement the 66 prints of hers already in the Getty collection, and Chris Killip’s “Isle of Man” portfolio of 12 prints, which helps the Getty to prepare for a major exhibition of the photographer’s work scheduled to open May 23.

The gift from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser comes in conjunction with the couple’s gift of 143 gelatin silver prints by Lange to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Getty, which already had 132 prints by Lange in its collection, received one Lange print —  “Funeral Cortege” — as part of Greenberg and Steinhauser’s gift. The National Gallery previously had  two Lange prints, said Virginia Heckert, curator of the Getty’s department of photographs.

“Dan and Susan like the idea of giving the entirety of their holdings by one artist to an institution so that institution has the possibility of creating an exhibition,” Heckert said by email. 

She added: “The Getty received a print of ‘Funeral Cortege,’ of which Dan and Susan had more than one print, since we did not have a print of this image in our collection.”

Greenberg and Steinhauser are a Los Angeles-based couple who have been labeled among the 12 most influential photography collectors in the world. They started collecting glass and ceramics in the late 1960s and have been collecting photography for more than 20 years.

“While collecting is a mysterious endeavor, and living with the art is profound, the act of gifting is a joyous and wonderful moment in time,” Greenberg said in a prepared statement. “As Susan and I begin a new chapter in our lives, and after decades of acting as temporary stewards for these photographs, we are excited that now is the time that we can share some of the best works we have owned with the public.”

The entirety of the Getty gift:

-- 12 works by Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)

-- 29 works by Ruth Bernhard (American, born Germany, 1905-2006)

-- 18 works by Wynn Bullock (American, 1902-1975)

-- 27 works by Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976)

-- 57 works by Bruce Davidson (American, born 1933)

-- 14 works by William Eggleston (American, born 1939)

-- one work by Andreas Feininger (American, born France, 1906-1999)

-- 96 works by Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)

-- five works by André Kertész (American, born Hungary, 1894-1985)

-- 12 works by Chris Killip (British, born 1946)

-- one work by Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965)

-- 15 works by Mary Ellen Mark (American, 1940-2015)

-- 26 works by Richard Misrach (American, born 1949)

-- 18 works by Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, born 1948)

-- nine works by Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)

-- eight works by Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)

-- 38 works by Eudora Welty (American, 1909-2011)

"Rekha With Beads in Her Mouth," 1978
"Rekha With Beads in Her Mouth," 1978 (Mary Ellen Mark )
"A Madam of One of the Most Expensive Houses With Her Girls," 1978
"A Madam of One of the Most Expensive Houses With Her Girls," 1978 (Mary Ellen Mark)
"10.31.98, 5:22 PM," negative 1998, print 1999
"10.31.98, 5:22 PM," negative 1998, print 1999 (Richard Misrach)
Untitled, 1936
Untitled, 1936 (Ruth Bernhard)

jessica.gelt@latimes.com

@jessicagelt

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UPDATES:

11:20 a.m.: This article has been updated with new information from the Getty: Before the recent gift, the National Gallery had two, not zero, Dorothea Lange prints.

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