The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced yesterday promised gifts of 473 photographs from several private collections including a celebrated series from Diane Arbus, a two huge donations of works by renowned Japanese photographers.
The new Arbus collection comes from the photographer's untitled series shot at residences for the mentally disabled between 1969 and 1971 and are a dramatic departure from her more absurdist works. Arbus herself originally called the works from this period "lyric and tender and pretty" only to say she hated them shortly before taking her own life in July of 1971. The donation comes from San Francisco dealer Jeffrey Fraenkel and doubles SFMOMA's collection of Arbus' work while recognizing the museum's role in celebrating Arbus through the 2004 exhibition Diane Arbus Revelations.
The remaining 450 or so new gifts of photography come from two collections — one anonymous donor and the Kurenboh Collection in Tokyo — and include over 350 examples of work by major Japanese photographers like Hiroshi Sugimoto, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Hiroshi Yamazaki, Kohei Yoshiyuki and others. Many of the works were previously featured in SFMOMA's 2009 exhibition The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography. According to the museum, the Japanese works will make SFMOMA home to the biggest collection of Japanese photography in the United States.
After 75 years of collecting and presenting photography as an art form, SFMOMA is considered a leader in the field. The new gifts build upon the museum's extensive collection of over 16,000 works by photographers such as Robert Adams, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Irving Penn, and Garry Winogrand.