MCAC Awards and Major Gifts
Modern Art galleries at LACMA circa 1973 © Museum Associates/LACMA.
Very early in its history, in 1963, the CAC recognized what senior curator Maurice Tuchman described as the Council’s “responsibility to our regional artists." The council had already given 24 grants to young artists in Southern California of about $1,200 each—enough to pay a year’s rent on a typical Venice studio. (For many it represented the first validation of their work and led to subsequent grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, which then made direct grants to artists.) Each artist met with LACMA curators to select a work for the museum’s permanent collection.
View a complete list of Young Talent Award/Art Here and Now Award recipients.
The MCAC has inspired impressive largess from some of its most dedicated members and even some non-members. Three major gifts, each comprised of an entire collection, stand out:
The Michael and Dorothy Blankfort Collection (multiple gifts including major bequest in 1999)
Michael and Dorothy Blankfort were founding members of the Council; later Dorothy became a chair of the MCAC and served for several years on the Art Here and Now committee, while Michael served on LACMA’s board of trustees. They donated 448 works of contemporary art to the museum through the Council , including , works by important Los Angeles-based figures Billy Al Bengston, Tony Berlant, Wallace Berman, Joe Goode, and Ed Kienholz, and works by nationally and internationally recognized artists including Willem DeKooning, Archile Gorky, Philip Guston, and Yves Klein.
The Dorothy and Benjamin B. Smith Collection (1975)
Benjamin B. Smith was a Council chair who, with his wife Dorothy, amassed a large collection of nearly 300 editioned works on paper produced in Los Angeles at the esteemed Tamarind Lithography Workshop. They brought together an array of works ranging from the pre-modern subtlety of James Abbott McNiell Whistler to the austere minimalism of John McLaughlin. The Smith Collection gift is housed in LACMA’s department of prints and drawings.
The Robert H. Halff Collection (multiple gifts including major bequest in 2005)
Robert H. Halff, a long-time member of the Council and later a museum trustee, was well known to international collectors of modern and contemporary art, and, for them, no trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a pilgrimage to his Beverly Hills mid-century modern home. During his lifetime Halff made numerous gifts to LACMA and contributed funds toward numerous Council purchases. He bequeathed much of his collection, including paintings, sculptures, and drawings by such figures as Richard Artschwager,Lee Bontecou, Chuck Close, Frank O. Gehry, Robert Gober, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Joan Miró, Robert Motherwell, Martin Puryear, Joel Shapiro, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, and And Warhol. Collectively his 81 gifts to LACMA form a body of truly significant works.
Other notable works in LACMA's collection have come as anonymous gifts through the Council or by individuals or groups funding works through the Council. Among them are Ed Ruscha’s widely known Actual Size, Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Pool Balls, and Sherrie Levine's Une Pipe.
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