Orlando Museum of Art receives major gift from James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett

The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) announced a major gift from Dr. James Cottrell and Mr. Joseph Lovett, longtime art patrons, social activists, and Manhattan residents, on April 4, 2024. The gift includes over 300 artworks from their extensive collection of downtown New York City and international artists from the past 50 years. This collection will enable the museum to share a diverse range of artistic perspectives with the community, researchers, educators, and students.

The Orlando Museum of Art has been a long-term steward of the Cottrell-Lovett Collection, having mounted two large-scale exhibitions: in 2004, Co-Conspirators: Artist and Collector: The Collection of James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett, and in 2016, The Conversation Continues: Highlights from the James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett Collection, as well as incorporating works in the museum’s permanent collection exhibitions over the years. These thoughtful, unique, and innovative showcases benefit both the OMA community and the Orlando art scene at large.

Now, thanks to Dr. Cottrell and Mr. Lovett’s gift, the museum can build upon its strengths—a contemporary art collection featuring diverse voices—and expand its mission to stimulate creativity and intellectual curiosity by connecting people from all backgrounds and experiences with compelling art and new ideas. Chief Curator Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon emphasizes the urgent need to confront homophobia and all discrimination in today’s world. She views this donation as “not only a pivotal moment for the OMA but also as a catalyst for broader societal change, permeating through the institution’s cultural reach.”

“We are especially proud to create a lasting impact via the museum, which has long demonstrated a vested interest in sharing and supporting our commitment to disability activism, non-censorship, accessibility, and LGBTQ+ issues,” Cottrell and Lovett remarked. “We’ve long been deeply inspired by OMA’s vibrant outreach into underserved communities, creating educational programs for people of all ages.”

The donation of over 300 artworks by international, diverse artists significantly expands the OMA’s existing holdings, particularly with the addition of artworks by figures from the latter half of the twentieth century. Notable artists represented in the collection include Donald Baechler, Miguel Barcelo, Barton Lidice Beneš, Kwame Brathwaite, Sophie Calle, Jean Cocteau, Noël Dolla, Roland Flexner, Helen Frankenthaler, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Deborah Kass, Jonathan Lasker, Robert Mapplethorpe, Malcom Morley, and Dana Schutz.

The Cottrell-Lovett gift to OMA also complements their recent gift of 200 works to the prestigious New York University-affiliated Grey Art Museum. The coinciding gifts aim to create new ties and foster relationships between the OMA and The Grey by allowing the two institutions to share works and educational opportunities.

This summer, a small exhibition titled Variations & Iterations: Exploring Art Series in Gifts from the Dr. James Cottrell & Mr. Joseph Lovett Collection will focus on thematic series within the collection of works already on-site at OMA. In the Spring of 2025, the Orlando Museum of Art will open its 101st year by presenting a major exhibition that will showcase a large portion of the Cottrell-Lovett gift.

Additionally, the entire Cottrell-Lovett collection will be accessible on the museum’s website within the next year. Finally, the gift also includes the named position of Chief Curator as Cottrell-Lovett Collection Chief Curator.

ABOUT THE COTTRELL-LOVETT COLLECTION

Dr. James E. Cottrell, a past president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, began his New York medical career at New York University—where he was an associate professor of anesthesiology before serving as Chairman of Anesthesiology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn for forty years. He holds the rank of Distinguished Service Professor and is currently chairman emeritus at SUNY Brooklyn. He is also the Garry and Sarah Sklar Endowed Professor and a Regent at Large for the University of the State of New York.

Dr. Cottrell was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology and helped found this subspecialty. His current research is on memory and cognitive dysfunction after anesthesia and surgery for neonates and the elderly.
 
Mr. Joseph Lovett is a Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker who produced the first gay-positive report for network television in 1977 (CBS). After producing early television investigations on government inaction during the AIDS epidemic at ABC News 20/20, Lovett founded Lovett Stories and Strategies in 1989 where he has focused on public health, creating In A New Light, a series of AIDS education specials for ABC; Cancer: Evolution to Revolution (HBO); Gay Sex in the 70s (Sundance Channel); and Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss (PBS).

His latest films are Children of the Inquisition: Their Stories Can Now be Told (PBS), and Something Terrible Happened to Joey, an animated film about childhood trauma (www.sthtjoey.com)
 
Together, they have been collecting art for more than forty years. As a young SoHo couple, Dr. Cottrell and Mr. Lovett grew their art collection based on their personal vision and vital friendships with artists. The pair was active in the neighborhood’s booming art scene and engaged in activism around the HIV/AIDS epidemic and gay rights—many artworks entered their collection through fundraising auctions, such as the first art auction for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

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