The Nasher Sculpture Center – Dallas, Texas





This is my next photo project.  For now, I hope this provides an insight.

Raymond D. Nasher was a real-estate developer and banker who was noted for the construction of the North Park Shopping Center, in Dallas.  He, along with his wife, Patsy Nasher, amassed a world-class collections of Modern and contemporary sculpture.

The Nasher Sculpture Center, located adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art, was designed by Renzo Piano and Peter Walker.  It opened in 2003.  This 55,000-square-foot museum and sculpture garden is managed by a private foundation and was built at a cost of $70 million.

Additionally, Mr. Nasher donated $7.5 million to his alma mater, Duke University, for the construction The Nasher Museum, which opened in 2005.  Heestablished a long-term association that enabled the Guggenheim to exhibit some of his works at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

The Nasher Sculpture Center was designed by Renzo Piano. Piano won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1998, has designed several critically acclaimed art museums, foremost among them are the Beyeler Museum in Basel, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris designed in collaboration with Richard Rogers and  The Modern in Fort Worth.  (Renzo Piano Building Workshop.)

Jeff Koons - Louis XIV

A native of Boston and the only child of a garment-maker who had emigrated from Russia, Mr. Nasher developed an early appreciation for art during monthly museum visits with his parents. His first sight of Van Gogh’s “Postman Joseph Roulin” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, he once said, “did something to my psyche.”

Vincent Van Gogh – Postman Joseph Roulin

His life as a dedicated collector began after he graduated from Duke University and moved to Texas with his wife, the former Patsy Rabinowitz, daughter of a prominent Dallas businessman. The two had been spending relatively small amounts of money on pre-Colombian art. But in 1967, for his birthday, Mrs. Nasher bought her husband a Jean Arp bronze, “Torso With Buds,” and was waiting nervously with it in their foyer when he returned from work.

Jean Arp – Torso with Buds

He loved it, and the couple began collecting Modernist work in earnest, acquiring sculptures by Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, Barbara Hepworth and others.

Henry Moore - Working Model for Piece Number Three: Vertebrae

Barbara HepworthSquares with Two Circles

Willem de Kooning – Seated Woman 1969 and Eduado Chillida – Silent Music II

Pablo Picasso – Head of a Woman

Joan Miro – Moonbird 1946

The Nashers discovered an enlarged version of Joan Miró’s Moonbird, 1944-1946, while visiting a gallery in Paris to see works by Alexander Calder. Raymond recalled in 1996, “When we got to the gallery, we suddenly saw in the courtyard the Miró Moonbird. It had just arrived, and I said to Patsy, ‘Oh my God!’ Calder is great, but the Moonbird, we felt, was one of the most important works of Modern sculpture ever made.” In the end, they purchased both the Miró and a Calder.

Alexander Calder – Trois Bollards

Anthony Cragg Exhibit:

 

In 1971, when Mr. Nasher commissioned the sculptor Beverly Pepper to make a work for NorthPark Center, a mall he built in Dallas, he became one of the first developers to regularly include art in commercial and retail buildings.

Mr. Nasher said that he concentrated his collecting activities on sculpture in part because, when he and his wife began visiting galleries and studios, he found it was less expensive than paintings.

“No one wanted it.  That gave me a great opportunity.”

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the couple increased the pace of their collecting, adding many pieces by Minimalist and Pop artists like Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, while also buying older masterpieces by Giacometti, Rodin and Picasso.

Auguste Rodin -Eve and Richard Serra – My Curves are Not Mad

Often, Mrs. Nasher took the lead, traveling, consulting, befriending artists and buying while Mr. Nasher focused on his business and civic duties, which included serving as a United States delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and a part ownership in the Texas Rangers.

Pablo Picasso

The Nashers collected several works by Pablo Picasso. Though the artist died in 1973, before the Nashers had a chance to meet him, the couple did get to know his last wife and muse, Jacqueline, when she visited their home in Dallas in the mid-1980s. During that visit, she shared memories of Picasso and of his works in the Nashers’ collection. Patsy and Raymond later had lunch with Jacqueline at Picasso’s home in France, toasting the artist with the very pottery he had made.

The acquisition of Matisse’s Large Seated Nude, 1922-1929, was also a milestone for the Nashers. The couple had waited several years for a chance to add the sculpture, one of Matisse’s largest and most ambitious, to their collection.

In 1983, a cast from Europe became available at a gallery in New York but at an astounding price—more than twice what the Nashers had paid for any other work in their collection. With only twenty-four hours to reach a decision and several museums interested, Patsy made the call. She later explained to Raymond, “There is nothing good about the deal except that we have the piece.” As shocking as the price was, the purchase was a transformative event for the Nashers. Recalling it later, Raymond said that buying Large Seated Nude had given them “the freedom and confidence to seek only the very best. It gave us a new sense of what was possible.”

When an extremely rare plaster cast of Picasso’s Head of a Woman (Fernande), 1909, became available in 1987, the Nashers jumped at the chance. Considered one of the most important sculptures of the past century, it marked Picasso’s first attempt to translate into three dimensions the pared-down, geometric vocabulary of his Cubist paintings.

The acquisition, made while Patsy was undergoing treatment for cancer in a New York hospital, came as welcome news for the couple. Since she could not travel, Raymond had the sculpture brought to her hospital room. Patsy was ecstatic: “I love it. I get a thrill when I look at it. I wanted it in my bedroom so I could look at it at the different times of day and night.”

At the time of Patsy Nasher’s passing in 1988, the Nasher Collection was being introduced to the world in an exhibition that traveled from the Dallas Museum of Art to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain, the Forte di Belvedere in Florence, Italy, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. Raymond continued to expand and share the collection as widely as possible, even lending it for another exhibition from 1996 to 1997 at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

After Patsy Nasher’s death from cancer, in 1988, Mr. Nasher continued to build the collection aggressively on his own.

As it grew, filling his North Dallas home and the courtyards and atriums of his developments, so did jockeying among museums that wanted the collection and fevered speculation about where it would eventually reside. In the 1980’s the Dallas Museum of Art built a sculpture garden largely in hopes of winning the works.

In 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York devoted the entire museum to an exhibition of the Nasher collection, pieces of which had also traveled to exhibitions around the world. The National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco also courted Mr. Nasher.

Naum Gabo – Constructed Head 2

William de Kooning - Clam Digger

Henri Matisse – The Serf

While Mr. Nasher had seriously considered the offers from other institutions, the decision to create his own namesake museum did not surprise many who knew him and were familiar with his penchant, as a self-made man, for doing things his way.

“There is an interesting quality of the loner about this man,” said Paul Ylvisaker, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where Mr. Nasher had taught. ”I think he ultimately consults his own oracles.”

Jonathan Borofsky - Hammering Man

Those oracles generally told Mr. Nasher to surround himself with art, of which he once said: “It’s much more fun than business.”

Source:  Dallas Morning News Obituary:  Raymond Nasher

Joan Miro – Caress of a Bird

Recent Exhibits Nasher Sculpture Center

 

 

 



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Lee Ann Torrans.






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