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Works from major American artists gifted to Stanford

Art by Richard Diebenkorn, Jacob Lawrence and Andy Warhol joins Cantor Arts Center permanent collection

Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center has acquired three significant gifts of American art, securing a solid place in the museum's permanent collection of major 20th century works.

The museum has received painter Richard Diebenkorn's sketchbooks, which were donated by his wife, Phyllis Diebenkorn; the Gabrielle Reem and Herbert Kayden Collection of works by painter Jacob Lawrence; and Andy Warhol's archive of contact sheets and negatives, museum officials announced on July 24.

Each artist holds an important place in the history of art. Diebenkorn is a key figure in the Bay Area figurative movement as well as abstract expressionism and color field painting. Lawrence, an acclaimed African-American artist, is a leading figurative painter of the 20th century. Warhol is arguably the most influential artist in the last century, museum officials said.

Connie Wolf, museum director, has been seeking opportunities to build the Cantor's collections since she took the helm in 2012.

"Thanks to the generosity of several visionary donors -- the Kayden family, the Diebenkorn family and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts -- the museum's permanent collection is now an even more vital resource for study and teaching. These singular works by Lawrence, Diebenkorn and Warhol will support new interdisciplinary approaches to 20th-century American art and culture here at Stanford, and I couldn't be more thrilled," she said in a statement.

The museum now has 26 of Diebenkorn's sketchbooks. They contain an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 drawings, spanning the artist's career and representing the range of styles and subjects he explored. The sketchbooks, which have never before been shown or studied, provide invaluable insight into the artist's creative and intellectual processes, museum officials said. The books will enhance the two drawings, four prints and four paintings by Diebenkorn that are already in the Cantor's permanent collection.

Cantor staff will catalog and digitize the sketchbooks so they may be made widely accessible for study as individual images and as interactive digital sketchbooks within the context of their original pagination, with links to biographical information and finished works, museum officials said.

Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, Cantor's curator of prints, drawings and photographs, plans to feature a selection of the sketchbooks in the exhibition Artists at Work, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015 to coincide with the opening of the new McMurtry Building for the Department of Art and Art History.

Diebenkorn is also an important California artist. He was born on April 22, 1922, in Portland, Oregon, and died March 30, 1993, in Berkeley. He grew up in the Ingleside Terraces neighborhood of San Francisco and attended Lowell High School. He graduated from Stanford in 1949.

Longtime supporters of Cantor and Stanford arts education Dr. Herbert J. Kayden of New York City and his daughter Joelle Kayden, a Stanford graduate of Washington, D.C., donated the 26 works by Lawrence, plus one by his wife, Gwendolyn Knight. The gifts were donated in memory of Dr. Gabrielle H. Reem, Herbet Kayden's wife and Joelle's mother. The collection includes 11 drawings, five paintings, nine prints and one illustrated book by Lawrence; one painting by Knight; and an archive of collection-related materials.

Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1917 and died in Seattle, Washington, in 2000. He became deeply involved in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s. He later described his work as "dynamic cubism" for its bold colors and shapes. His narrative paintings often reflect his personal experience or depict key moments in African-American history, including the accomplishments of figures such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman and the achievements of the American civil rights movement.

The new Cantor collection spans Lawrence's career, from the 1940s through the 1990s. Of particular significance are the iconic painting "The Ordeal of Alice" (1963) and drawings such as "Poster Design for the Whitney Exhibition" (1974), which demonstrate his mastery of color and form, Cantor officials said. The gift makes the Cantor collection the largest of Lawrence's works on the West Coast.

An early 2015 show will be the first Bay Area solo exhibition of Lawrence's work since 1993, museum officials said. The exhibition will grow out of a Stanford course, "Anatomy of an Exhibition," that Mitchell is teaching next year. Undergraduate and graduate students will design the installation and write the texts to accompany the exhibit, according to a press release.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts selected the Cantor Arts Center as the permanent home of Warhol's archive of contact sheets and negatives after an invitation-only competition among some of the nation's leading art museums.

From 1976 until his death in 1987, Warhol used his Minox 35EL camera to document his daily life. The acquisition of 3,600 contact sheets and corresponding photographic negatives represent the complete range of work and include images of celebrities and artists of that era, such as Truman Capote and John Lennon.

The photographic archive builds upon the Cantor's existing collection of Warhol works and adds to the university's preeminence in the study of the history of photography, from Eadweard Muybridge to Carleton Watkins to Andy Warhol to Robert Frank to Lee Friedlander. The inaugural exhibition and a major international symposium are scheduled for 2017, the 30th anniversary of Warhol's death.

Funds are being raised for a permanent, restricted endowment dedicated to the archive's storage, conservation, digitization and staff. The Cantor will digitize the full archive and make it accessible online.

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