Mead Art Museum given 170 contemporary artworks by anonymous donor

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    Los Angeles-based abstract painter Ingrid Calame's work "CgONG!" made in 2002. Courtesy of the artist. INGRID CALAME

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    Matthew Day Jackson "Sacajawea (American Martyr Series)," made in 2005. Courtesy of the artist. MATTHEW DAY JACKSON

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    Ulrich Lamsfuss's "Untitled (Andy 1)," made in 2002. Courtesy of the artist. ULRICH LAMSFUSS

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    Carroll Dunham's "Particular Aspects (three)," made in 2003. Copyright Carroll Dunham. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. CARROLL DUNHAM

Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2019 12:44:56 PM

AMHERST — A donor who wished to remain anonymous has given the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College 170 works of contemporary art.

The works are by a wide range of artists — Mark Bradford, Mona Hatoum, David Hockney, Cindy Sherman and Thomas Ruff, to name a few — and in a range of mediums, from video and mixed-media pieces to sculptures and paintings. The museum plans to display some of the art beginning Sept. 10 in an exhibition titled “Starting Something New: Recent Contemporary Art Acquisitions and Gifts.” The show will feature 60 works created between 1967 and 2019.

“These are works that would only come to us if they were gifted by an Amherst alum — or a non-Amherst alum, which is the case here,” said David Little, director and chief curator of the museum. “It’s a real coup for us to get this gift.”

The museum would have been unable to afford this kind of collection otherwise, he said.

“Most college and university museums really have limited acquisitions budgets, and so most of these works we could never have purchased,” he said.

The Mead has been placing more emphasis on contemporary art recently, Little said. 

“We’ve made that a real focus, especially given the student body and the changing demographics of the student body,” he said. “Having these contemporary artworks is fantastic because they really give us a chance to connect with the students.”

The works vary widely, from photographer Danny Lyon’s documentary work inside six Texas prisons, “Conversations with the Dead (1967-1868),” to Mona Hatoum’s “Rubber Mat,” in which silicone rubber is made to look like coiled intestines.

“What I love about the collection that we received is the diversity of it,” Little said.

Little encouraged members of the community to visit the museum, which is always free and open to the public. During the academic year, the museum is open until midnight on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at
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