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The Friday Foundation donates artwork, funds to the Seattle Art Museum

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SAM and The Friday Foundation

Lee Krasner (1908-1984), Night Watch, 1960, Oil on canvas, 70 x 99 in. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation.

The Friday Foundation — which supports arts organizations in commemoration of Seattle art patrons Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang — has donated 19 artworks as the Lang Collection and $10.5 million in dedicated funds to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). The 16 paintings, one drawing, and two sculptures, originally part of a private collection, will be on display sometime this fall.

The Friday Foundation was established in 2017 to manage the Lang estate. The Langs were very involved in the Seattle arts community, often taking on active roles in committees. They supported the Seattle Symphony, theSeattle Opera, the Henry Gallery at the UW, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, in addition to the SAM.

“SAM was an institution very close to their heart. They had been not only board members, but active in serving in committees and supporting it in so many ways,” Pablo Schugurensky, a representative from the Friday Foundation, said.

The Langs were avid collectors of abstract expressionist art from the postwar period following World War II. Abstract expressionist art is characterized by spontaneity in brush strokes or marks, but is expressive in its effect on the viewer. The Lang’s art collection spans the years 1945-76, and includes several works from defining members of the New York Abstract Expressionist circle. 

Several other artworks from the Lang’s private collection were donated to the Yale University Art Gallery, including six works completed by painters Franz Kline and Mark Rothko.

“These specific pieces [donated to the SAM] are to represent what we call the core or the heart of the collection,” Schugurensky said. “They are the very best works in the collection, and they are also excellent examples of each artist’s works. So they are not only emblematic in terms of style of each artist’s work, but they are also themselves just exceptional artworks.”

Some of the pieces are the first of the artist to be featured at the SAM. This includes Francis Bacon’s “Portrait of Man with Glasses I” and “Study for a Portrait,” Adolph Gottlieb’s “Crimson Spinning #2,” and Lee Krasner’s “Night Watch,” and more. The collection also features the first major painting by Joan Mitchel and the first “Elegy” composition by Robert Motherwell.

Other notable pieces include Alberto Giacometti’s first sculpture, “Femme de Venise II,” the rare Mark Rothko painting, “Untitled 1945,” and another 1951 untitled painting by Jackson Pollock. Many of the pieces in this collection are from formative periods in the artists’ lifetime, and are now considered pivotal works of their careers. 

The Lang’s were especially passionate about the Seattle cultural scene, and the Friday Foundation made an intentional decision when donating this collection to the SAM.

“They knew that the collection at the SAM would elevate the museum,” Schugurensky said. “The foundation also hoped that it would inspire others to participate in the museum, and with other art institutions, by giving, attending, and engaging in whatever ways they see fit.”

The Friday Foundation also made a monetary donation to the SAM of $10.5 million, which is intended to be used in the SAM’s art conservation programs for the purchasing of equipment as well as funding the costs of maintaining and presenting the Lang Collection.

This fall, the SAM will present all 19 works in “Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection,” alongside portraits of the Lang benefactors. The exhibition will be displayed in the museum’s third floor galleries.

Reach writer Taylor Bruce at Twitter: @Tay1or_marie9

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