Recent Acquisitions

April 15 – June 8, 2008 —

Since the beginning of 2005, the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) has added over 250 realist, abstract, and semi-abstract artworks to its collection including paintings, sculpture, prints, photographs, and fiber. These works span the four time periods of Nebraska art: Artist Explorers, Early Nebraskans, Modern Artists, and Artists of Today. Thirty-six were selected for inclusion in Recent Acquisitions, and they exemplify the diversity and quality collected by MONA that further documents the rich history of the visual arts of the state.

Among some of the most noteworthy acquisitions are five works by Artist Explorers created in the mid-to-late 1800s. Paintings by William Holbrook Beard, Albert Bierstadt, Alfred Jacob Miller, and Jules Tavernier, and a drawing by Heinrich Balduin Möllhausen not only document the land and individuals of Nebraska in the 19th century but also chronicle an important era in the history of the United States – westward expansion. In Albert Bierstadt’sNebraska Homestead, a handsome oil on paper that shows the artist’s characteristic use of glowing light, we are presented with an image of a log cabin in a landscape. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act that gave 160 free acres of land outside of the original 13 colonies to those who filed an application, improved the land, and recorded a deed of title. This Act was the beginning of change in the landscape and cultural climate of Nebraska as homesteaders began streaming into the state. Works such as Nebraska Homesteaddocument those seeking opportunity in the West and also provides insight about the artists who chose to make the journey, observe what they saw, and create imagery for the curious masses in the East.

Works by Early Nebraskans, individuals who first made a home in the state, were also added to the collection. Mitchell’s Pass, a watercolor by William Henry Jackson, captures bullwhackers goading a team of oxen through Mitchell Pass, the main route for many California and Oregon Territory pioneers. Frank Rinehart’s photograph Black Foot, Standing Bear, Big Eagle (Sioux), a gift of Carl and Jane Rohman in honor of Duane W. Smith, MONA Board President, 2005 – 2007, details three Sioux at the Indian Congress of 1898 held in conjunction with the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha.

Modern Artists pieces that became a part of the collection include Kady Faulkner’s regionalist painting Untitled (construction scene) that depicts a construction site on the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she was a professor. The painting was a gift from Ken and Viola Albers who discovered it in a closet of a cabin they purchased. Four Lyman Byxbe drawings and prints created in 1934 for the Public Works and Art Project are part of an on-going gift ofByxbe works from Robert and Pat Kennedy Crump. Of pivotal importance was the acquisition of an Aaron Douglas painting. Untitled (seated man with head resting) shows a seated man in an informal posture, shown in a naturalistic style. This is the third work by Douglas to be added to the MONA collection and the first oil painting. Douglas, who gave the Harlem Renaissance its iconic look, was a well-known illustrator and muralist. In 1922, he became the first African-American student to graduate with a degree in art from the University of Nebraska. His work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, both in Washington, D.C; The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; and Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Artworks by Artists of Today show a remarkable diversity in style and media including pieces by Cliff Hollestelle, Diane Marsh, Michael McLoughlin, Katherine Nash, Therman Statom, and Marguerita Worth. Katherine Nash’s Walking Woman is a steel sculpture of an abstracted woman’s form, welded together, with a gestural appearance. Walking Woman was a gift from Harriet Miller along with a second piece titled Fallen Angel. The two sculptures are the first by this artist to be added to the MONA collection. Other sculptures include a glass house assemblage, Onions (house), created for MONA’s Nebraska Glass Artists exhibition by internationally recognized artist, Therman Statom. Other works include the painstakingly carved wood sculpture of a woman by Marguerita Worth, gift of Peter Worth, and the large-scale figure oil painting, The Ending of Sorrow, by Diane Marsh – a purchase from the artist’s first showing at MONA in her two-person exhibition Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form, and the Natural Condition, with her husband, Eddie Dominguez.

The works of art featured in Recent Acquisitions highlight the depth of the MONA collection and attest to the support of MONA patrons. Nearly 85% of the 250+ artworks were donated to the Museum while the remainder of works was purchased through funds also provided by MONA supporters.