Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo Fine Arts Academy: History, Collection Highlights.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Among
the best art museums in the world.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York


History of the Albright-Knox
The Permanent Collection
The Deaccessioning Issue

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Situated in Delaware Park close to Buffalo State College, in Buffalo, New York, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is one of the best art museums in America. The gallery concentrates on modern art as well as contemporary art, and its collection represents most of the major art movements, including Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and many others. With masterpieces by important European painters such as Gauguin, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Picasso and Joan Miro, as well as American modernists like Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky and the sculptor Louise Nevelson, its no wonder that art scholar Thomas Hoving, a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, describes the Albright-Knox as a must-see art museum - a small and intimate place, with one of the most arresting collections of 20th century art in the world. For another compact fine arts museum in New York, see the Frick Collection.

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The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is part of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, established in 1862, which - along with the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven - is one of the oldest public arts institutions in the United States. The classical Greek-style gallery building, designed by local architect Edward B Green, was financed by the Buffalo philanthropist, John J. Albright, and built during the period 1890-1905. In 1962, thanks to donations by Seymour H. Knox Jr. and his family, the gallery was enlarged and its collection significantly expanded by almost 700 works. The institution was then renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The gallery building is listed in the American National Register of Historic Places.

The Permanent Collection

The Albright-Knox art collection covers 19th-century movements like French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as well as 20th-century Schools like the Ecole de Paris (Picasso, Modigliani), Fauvism (Matisse, Andre Derain), Analytical and Synthetic Cubism (Picasso, Braque), Constructivism (Alexander Rodchenko), Surrealism (Joan Miro), and others. Post-war works by the likes of Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, De Kooning, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol illustrate Abstract Expressionism (New York School), Post Painterly Abstraction and Pop Art. The museum's collection of postmodernist art (1970-present) includes items by Georg Baselitz, Kiki Smith, Allan Graham, Per Kirkeby and John Connell, with recent acquisitions of avant-garde art by the likes of Matthew Barney, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Catherine Opie, Jorge Pardo, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Rachel Whiteread.

The collection contains several smaller sub-collections, as follows:

The Natalie and Irving Forman Collection
This assembly of abstract art, mostly monochrome, was gifted to the museum by Irving Forman (1921-2009) and his wife. It includes over 160 abstract paintings and works of sculpture plus almost 200 works on paper. Artists represented include Picasso, Josef Albers, the American minimalist Robert Ryman, and many others.

The Panza Collection
This collection of 71 works of mid-20th century (mostly) minimalism was donated by Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (1923–2010) and his wife Giovanna. It features paintings and sculpture by 15 artists including Stuart Arends, Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Therrien, Anne Truitt among others.

The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection
This is part of an ongoing national project entitled "Fifty Works for Fifty States", a program run jointly by the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2009.

Highlights of the Albright-Knox Collection

Among the most famous masterpieces of fine art in the Albright-Knox collection, are the following:

Vincent van Gogh (Expressionist)
La Maison de la Crau (The Old Mill) (1888)

Paul Gauguin (Post-Impressionist, Synthetist)
The Yellow Christ (1889)

Modigliani (Expressionist, Ecole de Paris)
La Jeune Bonne (The Servant Girl) (1918)

Frida Kahlo (Surrealist)
Self-Portrait with Monkey (1938)

Arshile Gorky (Abstract Surrealist)
The Liver Is the Cock's Comb (1944)

Jackson Pollock (Action Painting)
Convergence (1952)

Robert Motherwell (Abstract Expressionist)
Elegy to the Spanish Republic XXXIV (1954)

Victor Vasarely (Op Art)
Vega-Nor (1969)

Louise Nevelson (Assemblage)
Sky Cathedral (1958)

The Deaccessioning Issue

In June, 2007, Artemis and the Stag, a bronze sculpture, owned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, was auctioned at Sothebys in New York for $28.6 million - one of the highest ever prices paid for a piece of Greek sculpture. The sale highlighted the uncertainty attaching to the mission of the Albright-Knox, and its decision to deaccession a number of works which were deemed to fall outside the institution's historical core function of exhibiting modern era art. Specifically, it triggered sale rumours concerning paintings by the English artists William Hogarth and Sir Joshua Reynolds, as well as pictures by French painters Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, Jacques-Louis David and Eugene Delacroix.


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