Minneapolis, MN, January 2015—The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) announced today the long-term loan of more than 550 works from the personal collection of the late Myron Kunin (1928–2013). On extended loan from the Kunin family, the 396 paintings, 64 prints and drawings, 21 sculptures, and 77 photographs comprise one of the foremost collections of American modern art in private hands. As part of the MIA’s centennial year of surprises, the Kunin collection will form the basis of a special exhibition that opens on January 1, 2015. “American Modernism: Selections from the Kunin Collection of American Art” will feature more than 80 works, including signature paintings by Reginald Marsh, Marsden Harley, Stuart Davis, Walt Kuhn, and Paul Cadmus, which have rarely been seen on public view.
“We are grateful to the Kunin family for their continued generosity to the museum and their willingness to share this important private collection with the public,” said Kaywin Feldman, the Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “I can think of no better way to launch our 100th birthday celebrations than with a long-term loan that enhances and deepens our galleries. That the story of American art can be told so thoroughly and so engagingly through this microcosm of the much larger collection is a credit to Myron Kunin’s keen eye and his irrepressible love of the chase after great art.”
Over the span of four decades, Myron Kunin assembled one of the most important private collections of American paintings from the first half of the 20th century. Featuring both innovative American modernists and celebrated American realists, the collection includes notable works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, and Andrew Wyeth, among others. Of his collecting philosophy, Mr. Kunin was quoted as saying in a 2005 article in the Star Tribune: “I try to buy things that are an extension of the Renaissance, the Old Master artists, and that have some kick to them. I like a painting that reaches in and grabs your heart and stomps on it…a painting that you cannot not have, if you can afford it. So I try to do that.”
Strengths of the collection, and favorites of Mr. Kunin, will be represented in the galleries, including: Marsden Hartley, Prayer on Park Avenue, 1942; Philip Evergood, Madonna of the Mines, 1932; Winslow Homer, Cape Trinity, Saguenay River, Moonlight, 1904–09; and Robert Henri, The Sunday Shawl, Edna Smith, 1915. Other important works to be showcased in “American Modernism” run the gamut, such as nudes, circus talent, social themes, land and seascapes, abstraction, and portraits.
“Art for Myron was a true passion, beginning with his purchase of Lady at the Theater by George Luks in 1977,” said Anita Kunin, Mr. Kunin’s widow. “The collection developed through his enthusiasm and dedication to learning about American art, and I know he would be so pleased with this exhibition and the opportunity to share these works with the public.”
Mr. Kunin, who died in October 2013, had a strong commitment to the museum and served on the MIA board for over 35 years. A Life Trustee since 1988, he served as Chair of the Board (1991–98) and was Elective Trustee with the museum (1978–87). An active and enthusiastic participant in Board activities, Mr. Kunin served on the following committees: Executive, Accessions, Nominating, Finance, Membership, and Development. Together, the Kunins made significant contributions toward the acquisition of works of art, including African and Native American textiles, photographs, the Frankfurt Kitchen, as well as the Tatra T87 car, which was one of the objects that Mr. Kunin particularly enjoyed, and other works for the museum’s collection. All told, Mr. Kunin’s gifts to the MIA include 230 paintings, drawings and other works.
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