KAWS (American, born 1974) and Estudio Campana: Fernando Campana (Brazilian, born 1961) and Humberto Campana (Brazilian, born 1953). Prototype for KAWS Chair Pink, 2018. Plush toys, stainless steel, Cumaru wood, 36 × 50 × 40 in. (91.4 × 127 × 101.6 cm). Prototype for edition of 25, plus 3 artist’s proofs. Brooklyn Museum; Gift of KAWS and Friedman Benda, TL2021.34. © KAWS. (Photo: Daniel Kukla, courtesy of Friedman Benda)
Including works by John Edmonds, Jeffrey Gibson, KAWS, Rick Lowe, Amy Sillman, and Kara Walker and forty significant, rare objects and masterworks that expand the Arts of Korea collection
The Brooklyn Museum announces nearly five hundred new acquisitions that span from the sixth century to today and include Korean objects, Italian Renaissance portraiture, and contemporary works. The additions collectively illustrate the Museum’s evolving approach to collecting that aims to critically interpret the art historical canon and facilitate meaningful conversations among people of different perspectives. The artworks were acquired between December 2020 and October 2021 and expand the Museum’s holdings of some of today’s most influential artists, welcoming to the collection, for the first time, works by Laura Aguilar, Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Jeffrey Gibson, Sky Hopinka, Susan Janow, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Jerome Lagarrigue, Rick Lowe, Thaddeus Mosley, and Christopher Myers.
A majority of the new acquisitions are gifts, about which Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum, said, “We are grateful to our generous donors and Trustees, with whom we have been able to thoughtfully collaborate on the essential diversification and enhancement of our collection, on behalf of our community. These new acquisitions tell us powerful things about our past and present, and help us to imagine a better future. We are thrilled to welcome these transformational gifts to the Museum.”
Highlights of the contemporary acquisitions include a new film by Kara Walker that responds to the January 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. capitol by right-wing extremists; an exceptional painting by Choctaw and Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson, growing the Museum’s representation of modern Indigeneity; two photographs by John Edmonds, selected from his UOVO Prize exhibition held at the Museum; a participatory monument by Paul Ramírez Jonas; a painting by Rick Lowe inspired by the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre; five films by John Akomfrah, Nicholas Galanin, Ja’Tovia Gary, Christine Sun Kim, and Tourmaline, all newly commissioned by MTV and the Museum; and a prototype of a 2018 KAWS Chair, a collaboration between the eponymous street artist and Fernando and Humberto Campana of Estudio Campana that features dozens of KAWS’s pink BFF figures. Other acquisition highlights include five photographs by artist Laura Aguilar, a painting by Russell Craig, a 16mm film installation by Sky Hopinka, videos by Susan Janow, a vibrant painting from the 1970s by Dindga McCannon, an imposing sculpture by Thaddeus Mosley, a photograph by Taryn Simon, part of Red Grooms’s groundbreaking 1976 installation Ruckus Manhattan, and works by Alvaro Barrington, Lauren Halsey, James Hough, Jesse Krimes, Tim Rollins, and Cameron Rowland.
Highlights of acquisitions and gifts also include a rare and unique Northern Italian Renaissance portrait of a Black man clothed in fine garments—possibly ecclesiastical, ambassadorial, or theatrical—which serves as an important expansion of the narrative told by the Museum’s other Renaissance artworks; and a sizable gift of forty objects from the Carroll Family Collection, which adds significant new dimensions to the Museum’s Arts of Korea holdings, including the first large-scale Buddhist sculpture to be added to the collection.
View descriptions of highlights, organized alphabetically by artist last name.
Five photographs (1988–96) by Laura Aguilar
Julia (1988), Cookie (1988), Clothed/Unclothed #20 (1992), Nature Self-Portrait #10 (1996), and Nature Self-Portrait #14 (1996) are the first works by Mexican American artist Laura Aguilar to enter the Museum’s collection. The five photographs provide an overview of three important bodies of work by Aguilar that emerged from the artist’s personal struggles with her Chicana identity as well as her sexuality, learning disabilities, and depression. The Latina Lesbian portraits upend the dynamics of the medium by asking the sitters to write a reflection on their identity below their image, giving each greater agency in their representation. In her Clothed/Unclothed series, which features side-by-side portraits of her friends both clothed and unclothed, the artist reflects the diversity of human experience by focusing on individuals in queer communities and on people of color. Aguilar’s Nature Self-Portrait series depicts the artist nude, in rocky desert landscapes of the Southwest United States, reclaiming both the landscape and her body and disrupting colonial histories of the West.
Mockery (2019) by Russell Craig, gifted by the Hayden Family Foundation
Mockery, a work by Brooklyn-based, self-taught artist Russell Craig, poignantly expands the public’s awareness of mass criminalization today and the historical roots of mass incarceration of young people. The artist taught himself how to paint portraits as an inmate at Pennsylvania’s Graterford State Prison, under the mentorship of James Hough, another prisoner. This mixed-media painting depicts Michael Donald, a young Black man who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. His mother, Beulah Mae Donald, sued the United Klans of America, the KKK’s Alabama organization, and bankrupted them. The work’s “canvas” consists of a lambskin Burberry jacket and an H&M shirt that reads “Justice,” pointing to both companies’ alleged history of racism in their designs.
Untitled (Marion & Yaure Mask) (2017–18) and American Gods (2017–18) by John Edmonds, gifted by Kathy and Steve Guttman
John Edmonds’s Untitled (Marion & Yaure Mask) and American Gods were acquired from the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, the Brooklyn Museum’s John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance (2020). These powerful photographs join two earlier works from Edmonds’s Du-Rags series, already in the collection. American Gods is one of the artist’s most iconic images to date. Its pyramidal arrangement of three individuals recalls the sacred geometry of Renaissance paintings, while the figures’ three du-rags correspond to the red, black, and green of the Pan-African flag. Untitled (Marion & Yaure Mask) was commissioned by the Museum in conjunction with the exhibition. The work portrays a stylish young man, who contemplates a wooden mask by a Yaure artist from Côte d’Ivoire that was once owned by the late Black American writer Ralph Ellison and gifted to the Museum by Ellison’s estate. The physical distance between the figure and object highlights the various barriers created by art history and its institutions.
When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks (2019) by Jeffrey Gibson, William K. Jacobs Jr. Fund
Jeffrey Gibson—a leading contemporary artist of Choctaw and Cherokee descent— sees himself on a continuum of Native American art, a category he regards as modern, innovative, and global, as well as a living culture he sees reflected in vibrant communities across the continent. This painting is the first work by Gibson to enter the collection, further developing the Museum’s representation of contemporary Indigeneity. When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks—presented in the artist’s groundbreaking Brooklyn Museum exhibition of the same title—highlights one of many aspects of a practice that bridges Indigenous and other artistic traditions. Psychedelic colors, text, geometric patterns, and beadwork merge seamlessly in this painting on canvas, exemplifying Gibson’s hybrid approach to art-making.
Sisters Serving the Community (2021) by Lauren Halsey, gifted by the Hayden Family Foundation
Sisters Serving the Community highlights the signage unique to artist Lauren Halsey’s childhood neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The installation, presenting a range of colorful graphics painted on wooden boxes, draws attention to the displacement of local “mom and pop” stores by big box retailers and to gentrification’s erasure of her community’s identity through the homogenous aesthetic promoted by corporate culture. The work also reflects Halsey’s engagement with the area’s local Black communities. In 2020, the artist founded Summaeverythang, a community center that brings organic produce to some of the city’s most underserved and nutrition-insecure neighborhoods.
Lore (2019) by Sky Hopinka, purchased with funds gifted by the Charina Endowment Fund
This 16mm film installation is the first work by Sky Hopinka, an acclaimed Ho-Chunk filmmaker, poet, and artist, and the first 16mm film to enter the Museum’s collection. Hopinka’s films and photographic works often combine images of landscapes with language to reflect on the complexities of contemporary Indigenous life, particularly as they relate to ideas of homeland, environment, and memory. Like all of Hopinka’s richly layered and rigorously composed films, Lore creates a fragmentary map of dreams and memories that pushes against identity and representation, both contemporary and historical. Lore was the centerpiece of Hopinka’s first solo show in New York, at Broadway Gallery, which was critically praised and named one of the best exhibitions of 2020.
QUESTIONS? and ANSWERS (2018–20) by Susan Janow, purchase gift of Elyse Cheney
QUESTIONS? and ANSWERS are the first works by artist Susan Janow to enter the Museum’s collection. Marking Janow’s first foray into video, these films are also the first by an artist with intellectual and developmental disabilities to enter the collection. QUESTIONS? and ANSWERS show the artist adopting the roles of both television interviewer and interviewee. In QUESTIONS?, Janow sits directly in front of the camera, listening but not responding to the quotidian “get to know you” questions posed. ANSWERS is compiled from three separate videos: the first aligns closely with QUESTIONS?, as the artist sits before the camera, raising cue cards with responses to the unseen interviewer’s questions; the second shows Janow’s written answers entangled with an abstract stop-motion technique; and the third features an intimate, close-up recording of Janow holding her cue cards. Considered together, the two films show how our normative social rules fall short in helping us to understand another person and describe ourselves.
The Commons (2011) by Paul Ramírez Jonas, gifted by the John and Melissa Ceriale Family Foundation and Leo Koenig
The Commons is the first work by social-practice artist Paul Ramírez Jonas to enter the collection. Modeled on the iconic equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius at the Campidoglio, in Rome, the life-size statue of a horse without an imperial rider is made of cork, rather than bronze, inviting interaction with the public. The sculpture becomes a shared communal space, hosting notes, messages, and objects that reflect a multitude of voices and views.This evolving sculpture addresses the timely issue of monuments by starting critical dialogue around the meaning of collective memory and commemoration in public spaces. The work was shown at the Brooklyn Museum in the 2014 exhibition Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond and is currently on view as a part of the ongoing exhibition The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time.
KAWS Chair Pink (Prototype) (2018) by KAWS and Estudio Campana, gifted by KAWS and Friedman Benda
This chair prototype—jointly made by the artist KAWS and the Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana—represents the whimsy of both collaborators. The chair debuted first at Design Miami, in 2018, and was then presented in the Brooklyn Museum exhibition KAWS: What Party (2021). The chair combines KAWS’s recognizable BFF character and Estudio Campana’s use of stuffed animals as upholstery to create a design that is simultaneously luxurious and playful, with an edge of dark fantasy. The KAWS Chair comes in a variety of colorways, each in an edition of twenty-five. A prototype of the chair, in pink, will enter the Museum’s collection as a gift of the artist and his gallery.
Besieged (2017) by Jerome Lagarrigue, William K. Jacobs Jr. Fund
Brooklyn-based artist Jerome Lagarrigue’s skillfully brushed works place him within a current renaissance of Black figurative painting. His more recent canvases explore the theme of racially motivated violence in the United States as well as the kinds of depictions and compositions that have come to define contemporary media. The blurred effect used in the paintings suggests the immediacy of a still image captured on a flatscreen television or a single image in a cinematic sequence.
Black Wall Street Journey #5 (2021) by Rick Lowe, William K. Jacobs Jr. Fund and the Dorward Fund
Black Wall Street Journey #5, by Rick Lowe, references the artist’s longstanding commitment to the genre of social practice and marks his return to painting. The title of the painting refers to the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, once regarded as the city’s Black Wall Street. A century ago, this prosperous neighborhood was firebombed and razed by white mobs who killed hundreds of Black residents and displaced thousands more. Working with the 1921 Tulsa Massacre Centennial Commission, Lowe developed the Greenwood Art Project to commemorate the destruction of this thriving Black community, an event willfully written out of U.S. history. For his yearlong project, the Houston-based MacArthur Fellow is collaborating with the city to produce programming addressing the racism that led to the massacre.
The rectangular and interlocking geometric forms found in Black Wall Street Journey #5 create a composition that suggests a map of an urban space. They also refer to dominoes, a game Lowe played with residents of Project Row Houses, which he founded in the early 1990s in Houston’s under resourced Third Ward. The project occupied five city blocks and initially held thirty-nine structures. Project Row Houses is a pioneering example of social practice, an art form in which artists create a structure or system that fosters interpersonal actions leading to societal change. Lowe conceived of the project as a way to empower the community, with opportunities for Black property ownership that would amplify the voices of residents in this historically Black area of Houston.
West Indian Day Parade (1976) by Dindga McCannon, purchase gift of Elizabeth A. Sackler
The Brooklyn Museum sits at the epicenter of a neighborhood with one of the largest West Indian populations outside the Caribbean. The borough’s West Indian Day Parade has been pivotal in celebrating the Caribbean diaspora as a driving creative force in central Brooklyn, enlivening Eastern Parkway since 1969. West Indian Day Parade, by Dindga McCannon, is the first major painting of the historic cultural celebration to enter the Museum’s collection. Held in McCannon’s personal collection specifically for the Brooklyn Museum, the large-scale canvas captures the vibrancy of the event and will significantly enhance the collection’s existing documentation of the parade and the Museum’s ability to share this historical narrative with its community.
Circled Plane (2016) by Thaddeus Mosley, gifted by the Alex Katz Foundation
Circled Plane is the first work by Pittsburgh-based, self-taught artist Thaddeus Mosley to enter the Museum’s collection. The sculpture is crafted using felled trees from Pittsburgh’s urban canopy, wood from local sawmills, reclaimed materials from demolished buildings, and waste from the city’s Department of Public Works. Mosley uses traditional joinery techniques, employing a mallet and chisel to create monumental freestanding sculptures influenced as much by Brancusi, Noguchi, and Scandinavian design as by African tribal art. Circled Plane addresses the Black American abstract tradition while reminding viewers that artisans of the African diaspora were equally preoccupied with questions of space, human existence, and nature.
GPTS3 (2020) by Amy Sillman, gifted by Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia
GPTS3 is the second work by Brooklyn-based Amy Sillman—one of the most recognizable artists working in abstraction today—to enter the Museum’s collection. Sillman’s practice reframes long-held notions about the look and feel of abstraction. Straddling the categories of abstraction and representation, GPTS3 develops a nuanced visual language in which fragmentary landscape and figuration provide an allusive and shifting relationship between foreground and background.
Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement Between Libya and the United States. Tripoli, Libya, August 14, 2008 (2015) by Taryn Simon, gifted by the artist
This photograph comes from Taryn Simon’s most recent body of work, Paperwork and the Will of Capital, a highly conceptual and political set of twelve sculptures and thirty-six photographs. By recreating centerpieces from photographs of international political signings, the series underscores how the stagecraft of power is performed and maintained. The series involves signings from the countries present at the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in New Hampshire, which addressed globalization after World War II and led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The bouquets in this series are silent witnesses to significant events enacted by wealthy and powerful decision makers in corporate and political realms.
Portrait of a Man of African Descent (circa 1600) by an unknown artist, William K. Jacobs Jr. Fund and the Dorward Fund
This painting is a rare and compelling portrait of an as-yet-unidentified Black man. With none of the typical signifiers of servitude, this individualized portrayal opens up inclusive narratives about the presence of Black people in early modern Europe—some having arrived as pilgrims or members of diplomatic retinues, with many more brought as a result of the intensifying European slave trade in Africa. It is a powerful and urgent visual intervention among the Museum’s other works from seventeenth century Europe, which is often perceived and presented as an almost exclusively white milieu.
Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies (2021) by Kara Walker, William K. Jacobs Jr. Fund
Kara Walker’s video Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies complements works by the artist already held in the Museum’s collection, including Walker’s sculpture Burning African Village Playset with Big House and Lynching (2006) and a number of prints and drawings. The new video responds to the January 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. capitol by right-wing insurgents. Making use of her distinctive cut paper puppets, Walker depicts a narrative of violence against government and other institutions, a pattern that runs throughout U.S. history and is often a means of asserting white dominance and nationalism.
Historical Korean paintings and objects, donated by the Carroll Family Collection
Important gifts from the Carroll Family Collection significantly enhance the Museum’s representation of Korean paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and ritual objects. Among the forty pieces donated are a Joseon-period lacquered image of a seated Bodhisattva, the first large-scale Korean Buddhist sculpture to enter the Museum’s collection, and a number of Buddhist ritual objects and temple decorations dating from the sixth to nineteenth centuries. Among the ceramics are two large and significant porcelain jars, one depicting grapes—a classic Korean decorative motif—and one depicting the ten symbols of longevity. An important ink painting and two calligraphies are already on view in the Museum’s Arts of Korea gallery, and several more gifted objects are soon to go on view in 2022. Additionally, an unusual copy of a celebrated portrait (housed in the National Museum of Korea) depicts one of Korea’s first art historians, Kang Sehwang (1713–1791). This later copy was likely made for display in a Confucian academy.