The University Art Galleries maintains the University’s collection of modern and contemporary art that it has acquired over the years through bequests and donations by faculty and friends of the University and local community. Most notable are George Segal’s piece Street Crossing, works by Alexander Calder, drawings by Alberto Giacometti, the Lida Hilton Print Collection and the Lucy Lewis Collection of contemporary Native American pottery, some of which can be seen in buildings on campus.
The University also owns the Wingert Collection of traditional African and Oceanic masks and sculptures, the well-known Cosla Collection of Italian Renaissance and 16th- to 19th-century European art, and the collected works of the American abstract expressionist Ben Wilson.
The Cosla Collection
In 1962, Dr. and Mrs. Oscar K. Cosla bequeathed their significant collection of 16th through 19th-century paintings to Montclair State University. The nucleus of the collection was formed in Italy in 1760, when it was part of a larger collection given to Anne de Clerici as a dowry for her marriage to William K. Cosla of Romania.
The George Segal Collection
George Segal (1924 – 2000) is best known for his existential plaster cast figures. Decades of work distinguished him internationally for introducing an innovative approach to sculpture – live casting – using plaster-impregnated gauze wrapped on a live model for the purpose of creating a hollow mold of a life-size figure. His works on paper are characterized by their arresting draftsmanship and vibrant colors. Like his sculptures, the themes humbly capture everyday life through abbreviated simplicity.
The Wingert collection of fifteen African and Oceanic sculptures was donated to Montclair State University in 1986 by Mrs. Emily Wingert of Montclair, New Jersey.
“The traditional art of primitive peoples is stylistically and aesthetically diverse, has rich symbolic content, and relates directly to the socio-economic, political and religious lives of the peoples who produced the forms.”
The Ben Wilson Collection
Admired by critics throughout his long career, Wilson was singled out as a “discovery” by the New York Times art critic Edward Alden Jewel even before his first one-man show at the Galerie Neuf in 1946. His paintings of the ’30s and ’40s were expressionistically rendered, often Biblical parables, filled with what he called “the grief of the intolerable” and reflecting an acute awareness of the agony of the time, from the Holocaust to the Spanish Civil War.
The Alexander Calder Collection
In 1972 a devastating earthquake leveled much of the city of Managua, Nicaragua. Besides charitable missions and fundraising by celebrities for aid, Calder was one of several artists approached to donate some lithographs for reproduction. The medium of the reproductions was maguey fiber, braided and stitched by native artisans. These artisans reproduced his images but they varied the weaves and textures in a free interpretation of the overall design, thus creating fresh works of art in their own right, blending the inventiveness of the artist with that of the weavers.
Other Holdings (coming soon)
The University Art Galleries are fortunate to host many other pieces of art, and a selection of those will be made available for online viewing in the near future.