On View August 6 through November 28, 2021
The Enduring Mark Includes Fifteen Exceptional Drawings Donated to BAMPFA by Richard and Mary L. Gray
(Berkeley, CA) June 14, 2021—One of the world’s leading private collections of European and American works on paper will go on view at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) this summer, highlighting a major new gift to the museum’s collection. The Enduring Mark: Six Centuries of Drawing from the Gray Collection illuminates the holdings of Richard and Mary L. Gray, who assembled a remarkable collection of works spanning multiple centuries of Western art history with a primary focus on representations of the human figure. Among the more than eighty drawings featured in the exhibition are fifteen that have been donated to BAMPFA, including works by Francesco Guardi, Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Géricault, Paul Klee, Juan Gris, and Joan Miró.
The Gray Collection was established by the prominent Chicago-based art collectors and philanthropists Richard Gray (1928–2018) and Mary L. Gray, who assembled one of the most distinctive collections of European and American drawing in private hands. Spanning centuries of Western art, the collection reflects the Grays’ particular historical and aesthetic interests, with strengths in drawings from the Italian Renaissance, seventeenth-century Holland, nineteenth-century France, and the postwar United States. While their collection includes notable landscape, still-life, and abstract drawings, the large majority of their holdings are depictions of the human form, reflecting the Grays’ belief that these images—as represented through the distinctively intimate and probing medium of drawing—offer a unique window into artists’ understanding of the human condition. Their collection encompasses rare and fragile works on paper by some of the most celebrated masters in historical Western art, including Peter Paul Rubens, François Boucher, Giovanni Antonio Canaletto, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning—all of whom are represented in the BAMPFA exhibition.
The Enduring Mark is organized chronologically to illustrate the trajectory of artistic and historical influences that have shaped depictions of the human figure in Western art over the past six centuries. A particular focus of the exhibition is the variations of early figurative practices in different Italian cities during the Renaissance era, and the impacts of these movements on subsequent generations of artists elsewhere on the European continent. The vibrant artistic cultures of Bologna, Rome, and Venice are a central focus of the exhibition, given their distinctive and mutually influential roles in the development of European figurative drawing practices. Among the selected works are fifteen important drawings that are gifts to BAMPFA from Richard and Mary L. Gray.
The Enduring Mark is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, which has published an illustrated catalog on the Gray Collection that is available to purchase in the BAMPFA store. The exhibition was previously on view at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City; the BAMPFA presentation is curated by the museum’s Director Emeritus Lawrence Rinder.
“As audiences return to BAMPFA this summer after a long hiatus, we’re delighted to welcome them back with this presentation from one of the world’s finest collections of European and American works on paper, offering visitors the opportunity to see exquisite examples of draftsmanship and artistic expression while also learning about historical connections among countries and across centuries,” said Rinder. “We’re deeply grateful to the Gray family for entrusting BAMPFA with fifteen exceptional works from this outstanding collection, which will broaden and deepen the museum’s existing strengths in the field of European art.”
“The Gray family’s generous bequest to BAMPFA will have a powerful positive impact—an enduring mark, if you will—on the museum’s European art collection and on art lovers across the Bay Area, where material of this kind is very seldom seen,” said BAMPFA Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm. “The works in this exhibition span centuries of art history and are particularly relevant given the renewed interest in figurative painting and drawing among a new generation of artists exploring diversity and representation in these more traditional art forms. We hope that The Enduring Mark will be especially meaningful to students of drawing who can closely view these historical works’ approaches to the figure, gesture, and mark-making.”
In conjunction with the exhibition, BAMPFA will mount a series of lectures, panel discussions, guided tours, and early music performances inspired by the history of European artistic traditions. A full slate of programs will be announced later this summer; visit bampfa.org for the latest updates.
Attributed to Benedetto Luti: Polyphemus, 1675–1700; BAMPFA, gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray.
The Enduring Mark: Six Centuries of Drawing from the Gray Collection is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago. The BAMPFA presentation is made possible with major support from the Richard and Mary L. Gray Foundation, Katrine and Harry Gray, and Alan Templeton. Additional support is provided by the BAMPFA Trustees.
An internationally recognized arts institution with deep roots in the Bay Area, the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), is a forum for cultural experiences that transform individuals and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and film. BAMPFA is UC Berkeley’s premier visual arts venue, presenting more than 450 film screenings, scores of public programs, and more than fifteen exhibitions annually. With its vibrant and eclectic programming, BAMPFA inspires the imagination and ignites critical dialogue through art, film, and other forms of creative expression.
The institution’s collection of more than 28,000 works of art encompasses pieces dating from 3000 BCE to the present day and includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and conceptual art. BAMPFA’s collection also includes more than 18,000 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, impressive holdings of Soviet cinema, West Coast avant-garde film, and seminal video art, as well as hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film.