Neuberger Museum Publishes First Catalog of Landmark Modern American Art Collection

Published on

This September, the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College will publish an impressive new tome, When Modern Was Contemporary: The Roy R. Neuberger Collection. The 276-page, fully illustrated, hardcover collection catalogue chronicles Roy R. Neuberger’s work as collector, donor, and arts advocate, providing new information on a remarkable moment in the history of the development of modern art in the United States. The book will be published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, now on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art, featuring many works that Mr. Neuberger purchased within a month to a year or two of their execution, reflecting his commitment to support living artists working in the United States, particularly during the formative stages of their careers.

Edward Hopper featured in "When Modern Was Contemporary: The Roy R. Neuberger Collection."
Edward Hopper featured in “When Modern Was Contemporary: The Roy R. Neuberger Collection.”

Mr. Neuberger was not only at the forefront of acquiring works by soon-to-be-canonical artists—including Milton Avery, Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Charles Sheeler—but also by Romare Bearden, Forrest Bess, Kenzo Okada, Hedda Sterne, Rufino Tamayo, and others who were less well-known or socially marginalized in their lifetimes and whose work has only been given the attention it deserves in relatively recent scholarship.  The collection reflects the diversity of Mr. Neuberger’s discerning eye and his interest in artists and styles that extended beyond what was commercially popular during the era of their creation, but that have subsequently proved invaluable to our understanding of this period of art and history.  

When Modern Was Contemporary includes an introduction by Dr. Tracy Fitzpatrick, the museum’s chief curator and associate professor of art history at Purchase College, SUNY, who also organized and edited the publication, as well as short essays by additional scholars and researchers on 50 of the most important works in the Roy R. Neuberger Collection.

“The Roy R. Neuberger Collection reveals the passionate interests of one of the twentieth century’s most important collectors of contemporary art,” writes Dr. Fitzpatrick. “Although I have worked with the Roy R. Neuberger Collection as a curator of modern art for many years, it was not until I began this project that I understood fully the importance of the objects in the collection in terms of the man who acquired them and donated them to the Neuberger Museum of Art. Mr. Neuberger was one of the 20th century’s most important collectors of contemporary art and this collection is one of the best of its kind.”

The Roy R. Neuberger Collection, the cornerstone of the Neuberger Museum’s permanent collection, was built mainly between the early 1940s and 1960, and was considered by many to be the most important private collections of contemporary American art in the world. The collection is strongest in materials that describe the evolution of modernism in the visual arts of North America.

The Neuberger Museum of Art opened its doors 40 years ago on the Purchase College campus as a cultural and intellectual center for modern, contemporary, and African art. It had been the dream of New York’s then-Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to build a world-class art museum on the campus to enrich the life of the college and local community. Rockefeller turned to financier Roy R. Neuberger to donate part of his collection to establish the museum’s holdings. In 1969, Neuberger donated over 100 works from his extensive art collection, considered by many to have been the most important private collection of contemporary American art in the world, and became the Museum’s founding patron. Over the years, Neuberger continued to donate works from his collection to the Museum, now numbering over 800, forming the core of its 7,000-piece collection.

Copies of book may be obtained from the Museum Shop at the Neuberger Museum of Art for $60. For further information, call 914-251-6131.

More in the auction industry