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Crystal Bridges Announces New Contemporary-Art Acquisitions

Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton has spent the past several years building a major collection that will form the core of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.

NEW YORK—Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton has spent the past several years building a major collection that will form the core of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark. The museum was originally scheduled to open this year, but the opening has been pushed back. According to a museum spokesperson, a firm opening date is not yet available.

The Crystal Bridges Museum’s collection includes major works by Jasper Francis Cropsey, Asher Durand, Thomas Eakins, and Gilbert Stuart, and dozens of other American artists from the 18th through the 20th century. The museum has also recently announced the addition of several works of contemporary American art to the collection, including Kerry James Marshall’s acrylic and printed-paper collage on canvas Our Town, 1995, and Mary McCleary’s mixed-media collage on paper The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer, 2008.

“Both Marshall and McCleary are creating compelling works that speak to contemporary life in late 20th/early 21st century America,” said Crystal Bridges chief curator Chris Crosman in a museum statement. According to the statement, Our Town presents “a tidy vision of suburbia … and then undercuts it with the tense expressions and postures of the children in the foreground.” The work will be on loan to the Vancouver Art Gallery for its upcoming Marshall retrospective (May 8–Jan. 10). On the other hand, in McCleary’s work—which takes its title from William Butler Yeats’s 1919 poem “The Second Coming”—“domestic disaster is explicit.” According to the museum’s statement, the “complex assemblage of electrical wire, twigs, paper and glitter painstakingly adhered to heavy paper represents a home engulfed in flames.” Museum representatives declined to reveal any information about how the works were acquired or what prices were paid for them.

In January, Crystal Bridges announced its acquisition of a new work by Walton Ford (b. 1960), who is known for his large, highly detailed watercolors of exotic birds and animals. In The Island, 2009, a three-panel watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink drawing, the artist presents “a writhing mass of Tasmanian wolves, grappling with each other and a few doomed lambs.” Crosman called the work, one of Ford’s largest to date, a “tour de force.” It is included in an exhibition of Ford’s work on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, through May 24, which will then travel to the Alber­tina Museum, Vienna (June 18–Oct. 18).

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