PAFA Receives Unprecedented Gift of Art by Women from Philadelphia Art Collector and Artist Linda Lee Alter

PAFA InteriorThe Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) recently announced a gift of the collection of art by women from Philadelphia art collector and artist Linda Lee Alter. This collection includes approximately 400 works of art spanning the 1910s to the present in all media and by a wide range of artists from the well-known to the underappreciated.

It includes works by artists PAFA does not yet have in its collection such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Joan Brown, Viola Frey, Ana Mendieta, Christina Ramberg, and Beatrice Wood (among others) to complementary works by artists already in the collection such as Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Gertrude Abercrombie, Edna Andrade, Sue Coe, Janet Fish, Sarah McEneaney, Gladys Nilsson, Elizabeth Osborne, Betye Saar, Nancy Spero, and many others.

Realizing that art by women artists was underrepresented in most art museums, Linda Lee Alter started collecting art by women artists in the 1980s, creating a significant collection of art by women with a distinct character and diversity museums would want. Alter states, “My hope was to find a museum emphasizing inclusion and diversity; one working toward greater representation of art by women and artists of color in its permanent collection, exhibitions and outreach programs; where the art by women would be fully accessible to students, teachers, scholars and the general public; and where my collection would be enthusiastically welcomed because it embodied the institution’s vision.”

Robert Cozzolino, PAFA’s curator of Modern Art, says, “Over the years, we have been impressed with the depth and reach of Lee’s collection, and her commitment to adding the voices of women to the story of American art. The gift greatly enhances our holdings of work by women and allows us to more fully examine the place of women artists in the canon of American art.”

“Lee has decided that PAFA is her preferred institution, and we are truly grateful for this very important gift,” adds David R. Brigham, PAFA’s president and CEO. “At PAFA this work will be integrated into how we present and teach art history, featured in rotating installations, highlighted in special exhibitions, brought to bear on the studio and liberal arts curriculum, included in public programming for all ages, and will be digitized and published in its entirety.”

Linda Lee Alter, whose collection includes ceramics, photography, painting, sculpture, assemblage, as well as works on paper, believes that her goal has been accomplished: “The Academy has warmly welcomed my collection. It is the home for the art by women I’d always hoped to find.”

Works from the Linda Lee Alter gift will be on view at PAFA by late spring, and a comprehensive catalog of the collection is planned in the near future.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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