The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has acquired nearly 300 works, including a monumental oil self-portrait by San Francisco artist Joan Brown and eight archival pigment prints by Philadelphia artist Jeffrey Stockbridge depicting the opioid crisis in Kensington, the institution announced Friday.
Stockbridge has gained prominence for his chronicling of Philadelphia’s burgeoning drug crisis, and his photographs were featured in a recent New York Times article on the subject. These are the first of his grim works to enter the PAFA permanent collection.
Brown played a prominent role in the Bay Area’s figurative-art movement in the 1970s.
“We have a few artworks by Joan Brown in our collection, but nothing from this period of time,” said PAFA curator of contemporary art Jodi Throckmorton. "Such a major work really fills a gap for us in her work and strengthens our collection.”
Completed in 1977, Brown’s depiction of herself stands seven feet high and portrays the artist seated on a chair, wearing white gloves, heels, and a suburban, ginghamy dress. She is working on a still life of a vase and flowers. In reality, the artist, who died in 1990, was covered with paint more often than not.
Also among the 296 acquisitions — a mix of gifts and purchases — approved by the PAFA board at its Dec. 19 meeting is a mixed-media installation by PAFA graduate Aaron Fowler, You Are Not the Father (2017-18), The piece combines a mirror, cotton balls, and a motorized spinning globe on a little girl’s deconstructed bedroom set.
About $571,000 in acquisition funds was spent to buy the works, PAFA officials said.
PAFA also acquired 38 prints, drawings, and paintings from the estate of Evelyn Statsinger (1927-2016), which will join the two works already in the permanent collection. Together, the 40 works will create a thorough collection of Statsinger’s abstract works.
Other highlights among purchases include three works by Cuban American artist Nestor Armando Gil, whose work was on view at PAFA last summer in the two-person exhibition “SWARM”; 155 prints spanning the career of Philadelphia artist Ruth Fine, from the 1950s through 2017; a self-portrait, Carried Beauty (2018), by Nigerian American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola; and a commissioned drawing by Philadelphia artist Mark Stockton, The Poet in His Bedroom or Walt Whitman in repose amongst a chaos of papers in Camden in 1891.