Architect Graham Gund ’63 H’81 and his wife, Ann, have made a gift to the Kenyon College Gund Gallery of 80 modern and contemporary artworks, including prominent sculptures already displayed on campus.
At a multimillion dollar value, the artworks are by masters including Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, Kiki Smith, Paul Manship, Dale Chihuly and Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The Gund Gallery’s recently launched permanent collection is fortified by this extraordinary gift.
Donated works include nearly all of the Gund pieces previously on loan to the College, including Chihuly’s Gilded Silver and Aquamarine Chandelier in Storer Hall, which was designed along with a number of campus buildings by the Gund Partnership, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Others include Manship’s Indian and Pronghorn Antelope and Henry Moore’s Large Spindle Piece.
The gallery has accomplished much in its four years, Gund said. “I’m excited about the potential with this gift to enrich the Kenyon community and bring visual art into the mainstream of the liberal arts experience.”
“The Kenyon community deeply appreciates the warm generosity and commitment of Graham and Ann Gund in making this gift of extraordinary fine art to the College and the Gund Gallery,” President Sean Decatur said. “The impact of this gift will be felt by generations of Kenyon students, who will benefit through an education greatly enhanced by gallery programs that tie world-renowned art into our curriculum.”
The new pieces include a substantial wall relief by Stella and a ceramic piece by Picasso that shows the artist’s important engagement in that medium, Gund Gallery Director Natalie Marsh said. A 1977 drawing by Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, shows their vision for Wrapped Reichstag. The project to wrap the historic building in Berlin in fabric wasn’t realized until 1995, after Germany’s reunification.
About a dozen of the works, including a Robert Mapplethorpe piece and one of Kenneth Noland’s signature paintings of a target, will be featured in a student-curated exhibition opening April 23 titled Intervention: Refine, Distort, Disguise, Expose.
Gund donated $11.5 million toward construction of the 31,000 square-foot gallery, which includes museum staff work space, classrooms, art history faculty offices and an auditorium. His touch has transformed Kenyon’s landscape. His firm renovated Peirce Hall and designed buildings including Storer Hall, the science and mathematics complex, the Kenyon Athletic Center, the North Campus Apartments and Horvitz Hall.
Gund Gallery’s mission is to celebrate art as a critical centerpiece of Kenyon’s liberal arts mission, Marsh said. The gallery brings the best artists of the 20th and 21st centuries to the community with an active exhibition schedule and formal and informal learning experiences. “We are truly honored to be granted the opportunity to steward these important works as they enter a new life in service to the ambitious educational mission of the Gund Gallery and Kenyon College,” she said.
The exhibition this spring will be organized by a team of Gund Associates, who are student interns. A larger exhibit of the collection will be planned for a future year.
In the long-term, collection works will be displayed at different times, sometimes combined with loaned works to form thematic exhibitions. Pieces from the collection also will be made available to faculty and students for close study and curricular use, Marsh said. Having a high-caliber collection improves the gallery’s ability to exchange works with other lending museums.
David Horvitz ’74 H’98, chair of the Gund Gallery Board of Directors, said the gift advances the gallery’s mission by providing examples of top modern and contemporary art for professors to incorporate into teaching. “This new opportunity for Kenyon faculty and students — learning from original objects rather than photographs of original objects or pictures in books or periodicals — allows our community to experience the power of great art in a different and much more intense way,” Horvitz said.
The recent donation follows on the heels of a major 2013 gift of two video works by Icelandic multimedia artist Ragnar Kjartansson, donated by Graham and Ann Gund to the Gund Gallery, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, through a co-ownership arrangement. The Gund Gallery was the first U.S. museum to screen the work The Visitors, considered by many to be one of the artist’s most moving works. It is on view through May 24 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland.
Steve Miller P’15, a member of the Kenyon Parents Advisory Council and a former Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art board member, said he visits Kenyon often, “each time with eager anticipation to see what’s up at the Gund.”
“I’m also excited that our region’s cultural offerings are expanding so dramatically with the Gund Gallery’s growing collection, its dedication to presenting new contemporary art from around the world, and its ongoing commitment to student work.”