November 28, 2012 — The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced today promised gifts of 473 photographs from three separate collectors, adding significant new depth to the museum’s holdings in 20th-century American and Japanese photography. A pledge of twenty-six photographs by Diane Arbus from San Francisco collector and gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel doubles SFMOMA’s holdings of work by the artist and continues the museum’s dedication to collecting artists in depth. Two additional gifts—one from an anonymous donor, the other from the Kurenboh Collection in Tokyo—strengthen, in particular, the museum’s collection of works by Japanese photographers; the nearly 350 Japanese works included in these gifts cement SFMOMA’s standing as home to the largest collection of Japanese photography in the United States. The three gifts announced today also include photographs by other important artists already held in SFMOMA’s collection—such as Robert Adams, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Irving Penn, and Garry Winogrand.
SFMOMA was one of the first museums to collect and present photography as an art form, and 75 years later it continues to be home to innovative scholarship and exhibitions of the medium. Together with the museum’s existing collection of more than 16,000 photographs—its largest collection of objects—these gifts will expand opportunities for the public to encounter and understand the history of photography, and further affirm SFMOMA’s long-held position as a leader in the field.
“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of these collectors, who share our vision for a dynamic forum for photography at the museum,” said SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. “The gifts to our Collections Campaign represent a major step forward in our photography program. They also contribute to the qualitative and quantitative growth of SFMOMA’s collection, which is both a stimulus for and a result of the museum’s upcoming expansion.”
SFMOMA Senior Curator of Photography Sandra S. Phillips said, “These extraordinary photographs make it possible to present important artists in the collection in even greater depth and context, and promote further synergy between our collection and our ambitious exhibitions program. The Arbus gift adds to our growing list of artists who are comprehensively represented in SFMOMA’s collection, while the Japanese works make our collection the best of its type in the country.”
The 26 works from an untitled series that Diane Arbus made at residences for the mentally disabled between 1969 and 1971—her largest body of pictures—represent a significant departure for the artist, displaying an unprecedented gravitas. The group of photographs adds to SFMOMA’s existing holdings of Arbus’s work and is a gift that recognizes the museum’s groundbreaking role as the organizer of the 2004 exhibition Diane Arbus Revelations, the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s photographs in more than 30 years and the first fully supported by her family and estate.
Highlights of the second promised gift of 185 photographs, from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, include 80 iconic pictures by major Japanese photographers Nobuyoshi Araki, Masahisa Fukase, Rinko Kawauchi, Yasumasa Morimura, Daido Moriyama, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Hiroshi Yamazaki, and Kohei Yoshiyuki, many of which were included in SFMOMA’s 2009 exhibition The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography. Another highlight of the gift is a rare and important series of photogravures by Takuma Nakahira entitled La nuit, originally printed for an exhibition at the Sixième Biennale de Paris in 1969.
The third gift of 262 photographs comprises exceptional prints and publications from the Kurenboh Collection, based in Tokyo. Spanning the 1930s to the present, the Kurenboh group features works by renowned artists Naoya Hatakeyama, Daido Moriyama, Shōmei Tōmatsu, and Ken Morisawa, as well as numerous pictures by emerging and contemporary Japanese photographers whose work has yet to debut in the United States, such as Masumi Kura, Toshiya Murakoshi, and Keiko Sasaoka. The gift has breadth as well as significant depth, with many artists represented by concentrations of work from various series. In addition to artworks, the Kurenboh donation includes a remarkable collection of nearly 800 rare publications—monographs, exhibition catalogues, and serials—which will allow the museum to establish the Kurenboh Collection at the SFMOMA Research Library.
About SFMOMA’s Collections Campaign
Initiated in January 2009 in conjunction with the museum’s 75th anniversary, SFMOMA’s Collections Campaign went public in February 2011 with the announcement of 195 promised gifts of art from nine leading Bay Area collectors, who are spearheading the campaign to strengthen the museum’s collection. The pledges encompassed major works by artists such as Robert Adams, Joseph Beuys, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, Jackson Pollock, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, and David Smith; and spanned all media, including modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, design, and video. The campaign is led by a committee chaired by longtime patrons Helen Schwab and Robin Wright, and its members include Trustees Carla Emil, Bob Fisher, Mimi Haas, David Mahoney, Chara Schreyer, Norman Stone, and Pat Wilson.
About SFMOMA’s Expansion
Developed by architectural firm Snøhetta in collaboration with SFMOMA and EHDD of San Francisco, the museum’s expansion project—expected to be completed in 2016—will significantly enhance gallery and education spaces, enabling SFMOMA to better showcase its expanded permanent collection and serve its growing audiences. In November 2011, SFMOMA unveiled design details featuring free-access ground-level galleries and public spaces, and new educational areas. The public can stay up to date on the latest expansion news by visiting the expansion section of SFMOMA’s website at sfmoma.org.