Indigenous photography, Anila Agha, sculpture highlight new Amon Carter Museum acquisitions

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art announced the acquisition of works by Luis Jiménez, Norman Lewis, Richard Misrach, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, and Kara Walker, among others, introducing major works by a diverse roster of artists to the Museum’s renowned photography and painting, sculpture, and works on paper collections. From Stephanie Syjuco’s reframing of mythologies of the West to accounts of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent political unrest by Anila Agha and Sandy Rodriguez, these additions bring critical dimension to the histories chronicled through the Carter’s holdings and elevate contemporary storytelling by living artists.

Jiménez’s Lowrider, 1997, and Lewis’ Seachange XIII, 1977, along with works by more than 15 other photographers, sculptors, and printmakers, mark the first from these artists to enter the collection, significantly advancing its representation, and in turn, the Museum’s mission to relate the full breadth of artistic creation in America. In addition, 16 photographs by Tom Jones, Shelley Niro, and others, as well as a newly commissioned photo-weaving by Sarah Sense, have been acquired in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Speaking with Light: Contemporary Indigenous Photography—organized by and premiering at the Carter on October 30, 2022. 

“We are committed to expanding our storytelling across media with thoughtful acquisitions that reflect both the nuance and diversity of artistic expression in our country,” Andrew J. Walker, Executive Director of the Carter, said. “The essential voices introduced to our collection this year challenge and empower us to explore deeper layers of the American experience and cultivate new access points for all members of our community to connect with the living history of American creativity.”

Extending the Museum’s legacy of collaborating with living artists and leadership in the study and presentation of photography, over the past year the Carter has continued to grow its landmark collection of lens-based works by Indigenous artists; its stewardship of recently exhibited site-responsive installations; and its core holdings in 20th-century sculpture and painting. Among the works acquired in 2022, highlights include:

Photography

  • Night Landscape near Nellis Air Force Base, 1999, by Richard Misrach (b. 1949). This image extends Misrach’s exploration of military presence across the western U.S. desert, and counterposes a duplicate print in the Carter’s collection, offering a widely different color interpretation of the same original negative.
  • Set-Up (The Outlaw), 2021, by Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974). Made for the Carter’s 2021-22 site-specific installation Stephanie Syjuco: Double Vision, this photograph responds to the Museum’s cast of The Outlaw, by Frederic Remington, as an embodiment of the mythology of the American West and the role of institutions in narrating that history. Cargo Cults: Basket Woman (Small), 2016, also entered the collection.
  • The following works were acquired in conjunction with the organization of the Carter’s upcoming exhibition Speaking with Light: Contemporary Indigenous Photography, one of the first major museum surveys of Indigenous artists’ lens-based practices over the past three decades.
    • Grandma, 2003, by Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (b. 1954, Taskigi/Diné). One of Tsinhnahjinnie’s early Portraits Against Amnesia—a series of manipulated images from the artist’s family archive and from eBay—the photograph speaks to Indigenous artists’ struggles to preserve personal histories under systems of settler colonialism. Grandma is the first work in the Carter’s collection by Tsinhnahjinnie.
    • Bayous Meander, Water Heals, Trees Remember, Roots Meander, 2022, by Sarah Sense (b. 1980, Choctaw/Chitimacha). Conveying not only a troubled history of displacement but also resilience, this paneled weaving explores the overwhelming of Chitimacha life by settler colonialism and relief found in the fluidity of the natural world.
    • Chippewa, 2006; Peyton Grace Rapp, 2017; Anna Rae Funmaker, 2015; Arlene Greengrass Rodriguez, 2017; Henry Decorah, 2014; Harold Blackdeer Jr., 2006, by Tom Jones (b. 1964, Ho-Chunk). These six works demonstrate a significant shift that has occurred over the last decade among Indigenous photographers from focusing on issues of historical survival, resistance, nostalgia, and stereotype to reflecting on present-day values and needs. These prints are the first works by Jones in the Carter’s collection.
    • Gar-Non-De-Yo, 2015, by Shelley Niro (b. 1954, Member of the Six Nations Reserve, Turtle Clan, Bay of Quinte, Mohawk). Haudenosaunee history and the Mohawk diaspora have long interested the artist and Gar-Non-De-Yo goes to the heart of that attachment, questioning how history is constructed through seemingly innocuous markers. This is the first image in the Carter’s collection by Niro.
    • Selected works by Rapheal Begay (b. 1991, Diné); Mercedes Dorame (b. 1980, Gabrielino Tongva); Rosalie Favell (b. 1958, Canadian, Métis (Cree/English/Scottish)); Ryan RedCorn (b. 1979, Osage); Cara Romero (b. 1977, Chemehuevi); and Kali Spitzer (b. 1987, Kaska Dena/Jewish), all of which are the first by their artist to enter the Carter’s collection.
  • Collection of 12 portraits, 1986-2003, by Nancy Katz (1947-2018,). This collection features portraits of Vija Clemens, Helen Frankenthaler, Gordon Parks, Ed Ruscha, and other major artists whose works are represented in the Carter’s collection. These prints are the first images by Katz to be acquired by the Carter.
  • Stuart, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2021, by Alec Soth (b. 1969,). Made with a traditional, large-format camera, this work from Soth’s recent publication, A Pound of Pictures, explores the space and weight of photography while memorializing everyday life. The artwork was selected to enter the Carter’s collection by members of the Museum’s Photo Forum through the Museum’s annual View and Vote event, which took place in May 2022.

Painting, Sculpture, and Works on Paper

  • Emancipation Approximation (Scene #9)2000, by Kara Walker (b. 1969). Based on Walker’s monumental, cycloramic installation of the same name, prints from this portfolio spotlight the complexities of interracial relationships during the Civil War era, while drawing attention to a continued legacy of sexual and physical exploitation.
  • Seachange XIII, 1977, by Norman Lewis (1938–1979). This oil painting is one of the most significant works in Lewis’ Seachange series, a group of late abstractions that the artist created to convey his emotional transformation after a 1973 trip to Greece. This is the first work by Lewis to enter the Carter’s collection.
  • Lowrider, 1997, by Luis Jiménez (1940–2006). Relating to a series of prints and drawings in which the artist portrayed Southwestern lowrider culture in the mid-1970s, this vibrant, hand-colored lithograph elevates and celebrates a Mexican-American car subculture often viewed as “lowbrow” in the fine art world. Lowrider is the first work in the Carter’s collection by Jiménez.
Anila Quayyum Agha (b. 1965) A Beautiful Despair (Cube) 2021 Laser cut, lacquered steel 5 x 5 ft Anila Quayyum Agha: A Beautiful Despair Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth September 25, 2021, through January 9, 2022PHOTO © 2021 AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, FORT WORTH, TEXAS
Anila Quayyum Agha (b. 1965) A Beautiful Despair (Cube) 2021 Laser cut, lacquered steel 5 x 5 ft Anila Quayyum Agha: A Beautiful Despair Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth September 25, 2021, through January 9, 2022PHOTO © 2021 AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, FORT WORTH, TEXAS
  • A Beautiful Despair (Cube), 2021, by Anila Agha (b. 1965). The Carter commissioned the interdisciplinary artist to create this sculpture and a group of mixed-media drawings for the Museum’s 2021-22 exhibition Anila Quayyum Agha: A Beautiful Despair, in response to the tumultuous years of the pandemic. Three drawings, Winged Shadows, 2018, This Old Shade 1, 2022, and This Old Shade 2, 2020, also entered the collection.
  • For Sarah, Carnations and Lupine, 2020, The Night Garden 1 (For JJ), 2020and The Night Garden 2 (For JJ) 2020, by Natasha Bowdoin (b. 1981). In 2020, the Carter commissioned Texas-based artist Bowdoin to create an immersive installation referencing the natural world, including these three drawings, which were acquired this year, inspired by the Carter’s rare nineteenth-century floral dictionaries.
  • Nocturne for Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch, 2020-21, by Sandy Rodriguez (b. 1975). This is one of 30 new works on paper that the painter debuted in the Carter’s 2021-22 exhibition Sandy Rodriguez in Isolation. Impacted by the rapid news cycle of rising COVID-19 fatalities and nationwide demonstrations against police brutality during her Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency, Rodriguez explores here the possibilities for healing past and present trauma through the recovery of Indigenous knowledge systems. COVID-19 Sunrise with Rabbit, 2020-21, and JTree Studies, 2021, also entered the collection.
  • The Texas Cabinet, 2020, by Mark Dion (b. 1961). Commissioned by the Carter for the 2020-21 exhibition The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion, this installation was the culmination of the artist’s travels through Texas, over the course of four years, tracing the footsteps of nineteenth-century explorers John James Audubon, Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge, Frederic Law Olmsted, and Charles Wright.
  • Five Beauties Rising, 2021, by Willie Cole (b. 1955). Produced at Highpoint Printmaking in Minneapolis, MN, this five-print series honors and celebrates the unheralded contributions of domestic workers in American society while underscoring the traumatic legacy of Black labor in the U.S. This work was selected to enter the Carter’s permanent collection by members of the Museum’s Paper Forum through the Museum’s annual View and Vote event, which took place in May 2022.
  • Over 300 drawings and watercolors and a selection of books, letters, and other ephemera by and related to John F. Kensett (1816–1872). This is the last significant collection of drawings by any major artist associated with the Hudson River School to have remained in private ownership, and only a small number of these works have been exhibited publicly.
  • Seven and Seven Flower, 1998, by James Surls (b. 1943). As a prime example of the highly personal motifs Surls created at the height of his career, this hanging sculpture represents a complex portrait of self, family, and land that draws inspiration from Mexico’s surrealist tradition. Seven and Seven Flower is the first work in the Carter’s collection by Surls.

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