George Segal Gallery receives gift from Warhol Foundation
Although it’s often said that good things come in small packages, it is also sometimes true that really, really good things come in large, flat, cardboard shippers delivered via Federal Express. That was certainly the case last November when M. Teresa Rodriguez, director of the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University, along with the rest of the gallery’s staff unpacked six prints by Andy Warhol on the large table in the gallery’s conference room.
The prints were a gift from Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. And while Rodriguez had been notified that a donation would be coming, she did not know which prints would arrive or even, it turns out, how many there would be. She and her staff, all wearing latex gloves to protect the works, peeled back the layers of glassine between the six prints, admiring the vibrant colors and examining the artist’s marks and the stamps of authentication on each print. “They notified us that they were giving us four [prints],” says Rodriguez. “A few days later, six arrived.”
Part of the Warhol Foundation’s mission has been to ensure that the many facets of Warhol’s complex body of work are both widely accessible and properly cared for. This most recent round of donations, meant to disperse Warhol’s works as broadly as possible, will be among the Foundation’s last. The 180 universities, museums and galleries that were a part of the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy program in 2008, a group that included the Segal Gallery, have each received five or six prints from the Foundation’s archive, many iconic and instantly recognizable. The donated prints are signed artist’s and printer’s proofs that were never meant to be sold and have never been framed or publicly displayed.
The works donated to the Segal Gallery, which include a 1970 color iteration of “Flowers,” a portrait of artist Joseph Beuys, done in Warhol’s signature quad style, and two works from the artist’s “Cowboys and Indians” series, created near the end of his life, will complement the 153 Warhol Polaroids and black and white photographs donated to the gallery in 2008, says Rodriguez.
The donation comes at a time when the value of some of Warhol’s work is soaring. Last November, a 1963 painting by the artist sold for $105 million at auction, setting a new record for his work. In addition to being a significant addition to the gallery’s permanent collection, the gift will increase the opportunities for fine arts students at Montclair State’s College of the Arts to examine work by an American master.
“To be one of a select group of recipients of art from the Warhol Foundation is an exceptional honor, and it points to the outstanding reputation of the George Segal Gallery,” says Daniel Gurskis, dean of the College of the Arts. “This donation provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to share some of the artist’s iconic work with both the University community and the general public.”
The gift is an acknowledgement of the Segal Gallery’s growing collection and its outreach efforts, according to Rodriguez. “Only three groups in New Jersey received the art,” she says. “Princeton, Rutgers and Montclair State.”
Rodriguez says that she hopes that the Warhol prints will be the centerpiece of an exhibit focusing on the gallery’s growing collection of mid-20th Century prints and works on paper, including works by American masters Will Barnet, George Segal and Alexander Calder, perhaps as early as fall 2014.
Warhol, who died in 1987 and was best known for exploring the impact of celebrity and mass media, left an indelible mark on the world of modern art and remains popular with the public and collectors alike.
“When we exhibited the photographs in 2009,” she recalls, “we had 4,000 visits in one semester. We were the only recipient of the works in New Jersey to mount an exhibition.”