The Delaware Art Museum’s contemporary collection of American art surveys artistic trends from the second half of the 20th century through the present. Additionally, the DelArt collection pays special attention to presenting contemporary art from our vibrant community.
Fine examples of paintings and sculptures by Edna Andrade, Jim Dine, Felrath Hines, Robert Indiana, Elizabeth Osborne, and Anne Truitt show the diverse ways in which artists responded to the myth and drama of Abstract Expressionism. In 2008, the Museum was the recipient of a major gift from The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States program. Comprised of 50 works of art by artists such as Lynda Benglis, Robert Mangold, and Richard Tuttle, the gift of conceptual and minimal art strengthened the Museum’s ability to tell the story of American art in the 1960s and 1970s.
With the approach of the 21st century came a renewed commitment to enhance the strengths of the Museum. Contemporary American artists concerned with identity and politics in the 1980s, such as Luis Cruz Azaceta, Deborah Butterfield, Robert Colescott, Melvin Edwards, Faith Ringgold, and Joyce Scott, began to share the spotlight in the increasingly inclusive Museum collection. At the same time, the Museum’s continued commitment to represent experimentations in the field of craft introduced acquisitions of works of art by Wendell Castle, Dale Chihuly, and Toshiko Takaezu.
Since the Museum’s renovation in the early 2000s, the contemporary collection has grown rapidly, adding more than 1,000 works. Artistic practices at the turn of the 21st century integrate a variety of interdisciplinary approaches. Acquisitions to the collection by Chul-Hyun Ahn, Nina Katchadourian, and jc lenochan represent these current tendencies. In addition, artists mine artistic precedents for style, technique, or source material. A common practice throughout the history of art, these methods of visual quotation allow viewers a point of recognition and artists a means of critique. For example, Robert C. Jackson’s The Apple Guy humorously quotes Rene Magritte’s The Son of Man (1964, private collection), with a bright green apple obscuring the artist’s face in a self-portrait.
Throughout the last decade, DelArt has strategically focused on acquiring more examples by women artists and artists of color. Recent acquisitions include works by Lesley Dill, Jack Whitten, Peter Williams, and Deborah Willis. Notably, those acquisitions also include Hank Willis Thomas’ Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot (2018), a commissioned work that became a catalyst for dialogue during the city-wide reflection on the 1968 occupation of Wilmington by the National Guard.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1983, Grace Hartigan (1922–2008), Oil on canvas, 77 3/4 × 71 3/4 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Fay and Alfred Chandler, 1995
© Estate of Grace Hartigan.
Queen's Closet, 1995, Richard Cleaver (born 1952), Ceramic, wood, and beads, 87 × 37 × 15 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Louisa du Pont Copeland Memorial Fund, 1998, © Richard Cleaver.
Birth of the Mammy I, 1999, Joyce J. Scott (born 1948), Mixed media, overall: 21 × 9 × 6 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the Alberta du Pont Bonsal Foundation, 2000, © Joyce J. Scott.
Updraft, 1976, Edna Wright Andrade (1917–2008), Acrylic on canvas, 81 x 50 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Dr. John Hunt and Carol Hunt, 2005, © Estate of Edna Andrade.
Pink Lady #1, 1989, Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011), Stoneware, 16 x 9 x 9 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Toshiko Takaezu, 2009, © Takaezu Studio.
unfinished business "it may not be televised", 2012, jc lenochan (born 1970), Chalk on canvas, 60 × 48 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the Museum Docents, 2012, © jc lenochan.
Large Mandala, 1990 and 1995, Gregory Gillespie (1936–2000), Oil and mixed media on board, 104 × 84 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Robert and Cheryl Fishko, 2016, © Estate of Gregory Gillespie.
Black Doorway I, 1966, Elizabeth Osborne (born 1936), Oil on canvas with objects, 40 × 49 3/4 inches, Delaware Art Museum, Louisa du Pont Copeland Memorial Fund and partial gift, from Locks Gallery, 2016, © Elizabeth Osborne.
Smile, 2016, Peter Williams (born 1952), Oil on canvas, 72 × 144 inches, Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 2016, © Peter Williams.
How to Live through a Police Riot [Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot], 2018, Hank Willis Thomas (born 1976). Screen print on retroreflective vinyl with aluminum backing, 62 × 48 inches. Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 2019. Commissioned by the Delaware Art Museum. Photograph of Wilmington Riots and National Guard. © Hank Willis Thomas.
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Layered Abstraction: Margo Allman and Helen Mason
This survey of two important local artists features stunning images of their work as well as contributions from those familiar with their art. 66 pp., $30.00
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art by E. Carmen Ramos
An overview of contemporary Latinx art, as seen at the Museum in 2016. 366 pp., $39.95
Wilmington 1968 Sourcebook
The Sourcebook, compiled by Simone Austin, is a collection of documents, photos, and writing that shed light on Wilmington's history during the Civil Rights movement. 248 pp., $78.50