PAFA acquires 20 works, half by women and artists of color

Nick Cave’s Rescue, 2013, an assemblage of enthroned ceramic dog and found objects, acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA’s Morris Gallery currently features further explorations of this theme by the artist. Detail. PAFA
Nick Cave’s Rescue, 2013, an assemblage of enthroned ceramic dog and found objects, acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA’s Morris Gallery currently features further explorations of this theme by the artist. Detail. PAFA

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has acquired 20 works for its permanent collection, including sculpture by Nick Cave and paintings by Didier William, Mequitta Ahuja and Betty Tompkins, and photographs by Abelardo Morell and William Wegman.

Half of the new acquisitions are by women and people of color. That is by design, said Brooke Davis Anderson, director of the PAFA museum.

“PAFA continues to build a permanent collection devoted to the American experience, and we are currently particularly interested in women artists and artists of color, so we are utilizing our resources to tell an expansive story about the art of America,” Anderson said.

The acquisition includes two archival pigment prints by Boston-based photographer Morell — Camera Obscura – View of Philadelphia from Loews Hotel room 3013 with upside down bed (2014) and Camera Obscura – Night View of Philadelphia from the Loews Hotel room 3013 (2014).

“This pair of camera obscura images are a breakthrough for me,” Morell said in a statement. “They represent my first attempts to picture day and night views from the same viewpoint.”

Also new is Marassa Jumeaux (2017), a wood carving, ink and collage panel by Didier William, an associate professor of art and chair of PAFA’s M.F.A. program.

PAFA also acquired a mixed-media sculpture by Chicago-based artist Nick Cave that features his work utilizing found ceramic dogs on thrones of discarded flea-market objects. Nick Cave: Rescue, on view in the PAFA Morris Gallery through May 13, explores this theme extensively.

“We are thrilled to have a second work by Nick Cave in PAFA’s collection, alongside his 2003-4 sculpture Soundsuit #26, acquired in 2006,” said Jodi Throckmorton, PAFA curator of contemporary art. “Adding a second work by Cave to the collection strengthens PAFA’s commitments to this nationally-significant contemporary artist and to acquiring works by African American artists.”

About $247,000 in acquisition funds was spent for the new works, which also include pieces by James Smillie, James Castle, Alexi Worth, Darren Waterston, Humaira Abid, Ebony G. Patterson, David Ireland, Isaac Julien, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Venturi.